The Gloucester Pregnancy Pact: Inspiration for the Play

Gloucester High School

In 2008, teenage pregnancy rates spiked among the students of Gloucester High School, and rumors swirled of a “pregnancy pact” between the students. The case quickly made national headlines. According to an article in Marie Claire, by May 2008, school nurse Kim Daly had given out 150 pregnancy tests; 17 of them were positive, four times as many as the year before. The article recounted how many students returned multiple times for pregnancy tests after their first one was negative. Some of the girls were excited about positive results, or reacted to dashed hopes if the test was negative. Yet as the media whirlwind grew, several young women came forward to say that the story of the pact had been made up and that the many overlapping pregnancies were not collectively planned.

In the coverage of Gloucester, reporters emphasized the depressed economy of the town and speculated how economic stress may have led to increased pregnancy rates. The initial coverage inspired playwright Kirsten Greenidge to start thinking about the dynamics of teen pregnancy and the interplay of opportunity and choice in young women’s lives. “Even if it wasn’t true, it begged the question why was the teenage pregnancy rate there so high?,” she recalls.

Greenidge decided to explore the scenario through a fictional lens. “I chose to take it away from Gloucester,” Greenidge says “so the question [for audiences] wouldn’t be ‘Did they, or didn’t they? Is this Gloucester or isn’t it?’” Greenidge drew inspiration instead from students she was in conversation with at the time. “I taught public speaking,” Greenidge recalls, “So the pieces that these young women were writing were about themselves, about the choices they had made to go to college while their friends that they had gone high school with were making different choices. Their friends were getting pregnant, having a second child, partying a lot, or didn’t have jobs. Those students were trying to make sense of ‘I’m here, but a lot of people around me aren’t doing so well.’”


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