Situation Grave

June 20, 2008 09:00 AM
Lately, there have been a few headlines that have stunned and grieved me. It is when these things come to my attention that I must muster certain level of optimism before I can begin to write about them or comment on the effect such tragic situations have on the culture and our pro-life work.

One example was a report out of Weld County, Colorado. A preborn child was found in a port-a-potty at a sand and gravel lot. The little boy was deemed to be, upon first glance, no more than seven months gestational age. An autopsy had not been performed at the time of the report.

The shock of it overwhelmed me as I contemplated how many of these incidents must occur without anyone even taking notice. When, I wondered, is America going to wake up and understand that a disproportionate number of children go to their graves in complete anonymity and are likely to be remembered by no one?

Within days of that report, we heard the news from Gloucester, Massachusetts about the teenage girls who had made a pact to get pregnant. This news report had a twist that made it different than most of those out-of-wedlock pregnancies I have read about. It made me think that maybe there was a connection between the teens in Massachusetts and the child in the port-a-potty. It's called disregard.

My impression from the various news reports that I read was that adults were not concerned about the driving force that would create a desire among more than 15 girls to get pregnant. Rather, it provoked discussion about whether or not it was time to start providing birth control pills on the school grounds!

Now pardon me for being ignorant, but isn't there something more profoundly problematic in this situation than whether or not the pill is available? Has pregnancy become such a meaningless word that those who are older and should know better are not even concerned about the underlying causes of this crisis? What about the parents of these girls and their responsibilities?

Well, all the principal could say about it was that these young girls are "girls who lack self-esteem and have a lack of love in their life."

Another report suggested that the ones who appeared to be most upset were those who were not yet pregnant! I can only hope that the reason why the parents of these girls were not commenting is that they prefer to do some soul searching as they prepare to be supportive of their daughters and their grandchildren. But I have to ask myself this:

Hasn't the frivolous nature of this attitude toward bearing children dawned on anyone? Who among the "officials" being interviewed for this story has made mention of the fact that the underlying cause of this "problem" might possibly be a total disregard for the dignity of the human person, starting with each of these girls and their own idea of self-respect, purity and dignity? So far, the answer is nobody – and that is tragic not only for these particular young women, but for society as a whole.

It would appear that the nation is rapidly moving down a road, at least philosophically, where the majority of our thinkers have no regard whatsoever for the individuality and vulnerability of each person. Children having children has become such a commonplace occurrence that we view situations like the one in Gloucester as nothing more than a curiosity that deserves a few lines on the nightly news and a page or so in Time magazine.

Our collective response, if this latest report is any indication, seems to be summed up in this line: "Last month, two officials at the high school health center resigned in protest over the resistance from the local hospital to the confidential distribution of contraceptives."

And as if that were not horrific enough to jar us into wondering why the culture seems to think that pills will solve what is, at its core, a crisis in values, we hear about a 16-year-old immigrant in Richmond, Virginia. This young girl has no parents, was in foster care and was being given assistance by the local Catholic Charities staff. But it seems that the counseling she was receiving consisted of having her fitted for a birth control device and then paying for an abortion when she conceived a child.

Of course, the local Catholic bishop, Francis X. DiLorenzo, is upset about the situation, has issued a statement about it, has permitted the firing of a few employees and so forth, but again, we are faced with a question of human dignity that is being handled with attitudes bordering on frivolity.

Now, I mean no disrespect to the Catholic bishop or the Gloucester High School officials or the police who are investigating the reasons why someone left a baby to die in a port-a-potty, but I am suggesting that, at its core, our society has lost its will to protect the vulnerable, shield the young and accept responsibility for its errors along the way.

There is an underlying mentality that makes it possible for mothers to dump their children, parents to consign their teens to unfettered activities and charity workers to take the easy way out of a difficult situation: It is called moral relativism. It is the prevalent philosophy among those who truly believe that problems must be solved with no regard for the consequences, even if it means someone has to die.

As I read the story about the Gloucester teens – not a single one of whom is over age 16 – and I reflected on the 16-year-old Guatemalan immigrant whose baby is now dead, I had to think about that baby in the port-a-potty whose mother has not come forth and ask myself, "What are we doing to our children?"

Have we as a nation, because of our nearly 40 years of decriminalized abortion, arrived at a juncture in history where problem-solving naturally includes the option of doing away with someone in order to avoid the more difficult task of accepting responsibility and making sacrifices? Are we now speeding into the fast lane of contempt for the vulnerable? How many of those teens in Gloucester will be admonished for their behavior but affirmed in their motherhood? How many will quietly visit an abortion mill as parents spend a little cash now to avoid helping out with a grandchild later?

Where in the world is America headed? Is the situation grave? Oh yes, it certainly is. And without a U-turn toward God and His law, it can only get worse.
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