Late last week, a Houston, Texas teenager indicted in the death of her newborn baby was remanded to state custody until her case comes to trial. Due to the fact that she is a minor her name has been withheld, but that is not really the crux of this report. The fact that she acted in a manner that resulted in her baby's death is the real story.
Let's start with the media headline for this story, which reads "Teen indicted in baby's bathroom death faces judge." At first glance, this sounds bizarre! Clearly a bathroom did not kill this newborn child – his mother did. Second, what makes this story horrific enough to deserve such a cosmic headline?
I think I know the answer on both counts. In the real world, we would understand that a 14-year-old girl who delivers her baby in a toilet and subsequently kills that baby is someone who has lost all sense of identity, not only for her own self-worth but for that of her child as well. The baby weighed five pounds, six ounces. Yet this young woman told the police she did not know that she was pregnant and did not know she had given birth to a child. That itself is disturbing and, as we learn, erroneous.
The autopsy revealed that a piece of paper had been stuffed down the newborn baby's mouth and that he, in fact, had died of suffocation.
The story gets worse, but the possible cause is not addressed in a way that resonates with someone like me. I am someone who understands that the culture of death has such a grip on our society that it has desensitized far too many to a point where human personhood is nothing more than a confusing phrase for thoughtful philosophers. The identity of a child is equated with the convenience of the person making the decision as to whether or not that human being is wanted or not. In this sad case, the child was a problem that needed a quick solution and death was the chosen avenue.
However, this heinous act will not be recorded anywhere in a manner that would resonate with the nation and with parents in particular. When the U. S. Department of Education, for example, tabulates "violence in schools," they address rape, sexual battery, physical violence with or without a weapon and robbery with or without a weapon. Nowhere in the latest report is murder noted. While we learn that in a single year, 1,466,000 incidents of violence were reported, we know little about the additional crimes committed by students who became pregnant, and then chose death for their offspring.
Eleven years ago, a similar headline was published after a study had been completed on the possible reasons why teens kill their babies. The headline reads "&library" target="_blank">Teens killing babies after secret birth may be more common than once thought."
Several professors are quoted in this article, and the most stunning line is this: "Young women whose parents teach that premarital sex, abortion and out-of-wedlock pregnancy are unequivocally wrong may have a heightened sense of guilt and fear."
Oh yes, even as long ago as 1997, those parents who worked hard to instill values in their children in an effort to help them understand the difference between right and wrong were the ones to blame for heinous acts of violence perpetrated against newborn children by frightened teens.
We are also told in the article that one of the reasons why a teen may kill her newborn is that she is facing a pregnancy that she once wanted but now does not want.
And that may be the closest we are going to get to an honest assessment. Even though it was written in 1997, that insight applies to an even greater extent today than it once did.
For more than 35 years, we as a nation have been discussing "unwanted" pregnancy with our children, be it because of media attention, classroom discussion or frank comments made at the dinner table where a parent joins in and participates in a discussion about sex before marriage.
When the floodgates to birth control opened and access to abortion became a national right of passage, so to speak, conversations no longer centered on chastity and purity, but rather protection and choices. And perhaps a teenager of 14, who was visibly and emotionally troubled by the reality that indeed she had just given birth to a real, live baby, thought for a split second about the fact that she could have had an abortion and chose to abort after birth instead.
Nobody really knows, but there is one thing we do know. Abortion is as commonplace as root canals. It is no longer viewed in most circles as a criminal act, but rather as a solution to a difficult situation. And as one young mother e-mailed me after she read the report from Houston,
The main problem causing so many people to abandon and/or kill newborn babies is abortion. Pro-death activists insist on fighting for and proclaiming abortion "rights" as loudly as they can, imposing their homicidal views on the rest of the world. Our young people are so inundated with this horror that they've become numb and feel that if a preborn baby is simply a "glob of cells" with no rights or even feelings, then a newborn fresh from the womb is no different.
How can we expect them to feel and behave any differently when so many people keep insisting on a woman's right to kill her baby? How is killing a newborn and leaving him in a toilet any different than a doctor with a scalpel tearing apart a preborn baby limb by limb, sucking the parts out of the mother's womb, then flushing the remains down the drain?
When will people realize that all of us are human – from our very beginning to death? This is what needs to be proclaimed throughout the media. With so much focus on abortion "rights," reality becomes clouded, and then people don't hesitate to do something this horrible to a newborn baby. After all, only moments before, the girl could have legally obtained an abortion. I don't understand how what this girl did was a crime, but so-called doctors do the exact same thing every single day under full protection of the law! Something is wrong with our society, and that something is abortion.
How frighteningly profound an insight. Sadly, how true!