Unfit: The Tale of One Pregnant Teen in the Bible Belt Before Women Had Choice

Unfit: The Tale of One Pregnant Teen in the Bible Belt Before Women Had Choice

by Lani Jo Leigh


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It was the Age of Aquarius and a time of sexual freedom, but in Oklahoma sex, drugs and rock & roll were still the devil’s handiwork. In the repressed fundamentalist culture of her small hometown, 16-year-old Lani Jo struggled with the “sin” of her sexuality. When she learned that she was pregnant, she was given one option—banishment to a maternity home in New Orleans. While most girls were sent away for the third trimester, Lani Jo spent six months at Sellers Baptist Home for Unwed Mothers. Unfit tells the story of her time there—a time of despair, rage, betrayal, and abandonment. With twenty-four high school and college age girls residing at the Home at any one time, it is also the story of friendship and genuine caring written with humor and pathos.

Lani Jo always imagined a different ending to her story—a way she could keep her baby—but Hollywood endings are hard to come by. A week after giving birth, she relinquished her son, Bo, for adoption and returned home alone. With no emotional support, she was told to act as if “nothing had ever happened.” But that was an impossible ask. The agonizing pain she felt from losing her son and the longing to find and know him never left her heart, mind or spirit. It sapped much of the color out of everything that followed.

In the decades between World War II and Roe v. Wade, an astounding 1.5 million girls and young women were sent to maternity homes and coerced into relinquishing their babies. Now that women’s reproductive rights are once again fueling a divisive national debate, Unfit provides a poignant, heartbreaking and personal look into our nation’s grim history when abortion was illegal, sex education was almost non-existent, and birth control was tightly restricted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781734265903
Publisher: American Lifeograph
Publication date: 12/12/2019
Pages: 322
Sales rank: 951,782
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)

Table of Contents

Part One: The South Canadian

Clean Catch

Unwelcome News

Chicken Fried Steak


Ugly Shoes

The Johnstown Flood

Unhappy Birthday

A Steak Made for Two

The Wrong Movie

Part Two: The Mississippi

Sunday Driving



The Powers-that-Be


Audubon Park

Margaret Haughery

A. Wilson, Stalker


Were You There?

Peggy Lee Was Right

Cardboard Breastplates


Lake Champlain

Christy Makes a Different Choice

Voodoo Queen Marie

On the Banks of Lake Pontchartrain

Cotton Candy

Glenda Sends Cookies

Gin Rummy

A Month of Sundays Summer

Baby Booties

Past Due

Out to Lunch

One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi

Tiny Blue Bundle

It’s So Hard

Don’t Look Back

Part Three: Roll On, Columbia


Finding a Keeper

Chanel No. 5

Welcome to the Circle

The Pathos of Things

$400 and 24 Hours


About the Author

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