How more compassion and less moral judgments increases teen pregnancy

From the centrist City Journal. (H/T Ruth Blog)


Within my lifetime, single parenthood has been transformed from shame to saintliness. In our society, perversely, we celebrate the unwed mother as a heroic figure, like a fireman or a police officer. During the last presidential election, much was made of Obama’s mother, who was a single parent. Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies.

None of this is lost on my students. In today’s urban high school, there is no shame or social ostracism when girls become pregnant. Other girls in school want to pat their stomachs. Their friends throw baby showers at which meager little gifts are given. After delivery, the girls return to school with baby pictures on their cell phones or slipped into their binders, which they eagerly share with me. Often they sit together in my classes, sharing insights into parenting, discussing the taste of Pedialite or the exhaustion that goes with the job. On my way home at night, I often see my students in the projects that surround our school, pushing their strollers or hanging out on their stoops instead of doing their homework.

Connecticut is among the most generous of the states to out-of-wedlock mothers. Teenage girls like Nicole qualify for a vast array of welfare benefits from the state and federal governments: medical coverage when they become pregnant (called “Healthy Start”); later, medical insurance for the family (“Husky”); child care (“Care 4 Kids”); Section 8 housing subsidies; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; cash assistance. If you need to get to an appointment, state-sponsored dial-a-ride is available. If that appointment is college-related, no sweat: education grants for single mothers are available, too. Nicole didn’t have to worry about finishing the school year; the state sent a $35-an-hour tutor directly to her home halfway into her final trimester and for six weeks after the baby arrived.

In theory, this provision of services is humane and defensible, an essential safety net for the most vulnerable—children who have children. What it amounts to in practice is a monolithic public endorsement of single motherhood—one that has turned our urban high schools into puppy mills. The safety net has become a hammock.

The article contains a case study, so you really get the feel for what’s behind the statistics.

Remember that fatherlessness is not good for children – so we should not be encouraging fatherlessness.

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17 thoughts on “How more compassion and less moral judgments increases teen pregnancy”

  1. President Obama’s mother Stanley became single as a result of divorce from his father. And even had she not been married, why wouldn’t she be deserving of respect during the election? How many single moms do you know who raise their sons to be president and a committed father, to boot?

    Facts matter.


  2. Is human life not something that ought to be celebrated, regardless of the circumstances in which that human life was brought into the world?

    And if we are not compassionate towards and supportive of single mothers, then I agree there will be less teenage pregnancies. But I disagree that this will be due to decreased sexual activity among teenagers, but instead because there will be more abortions.

    If we are truly pro-life, should we not be help and be loving to those mothers who carry a child they are not ready for? I would argue that single mothers are in fact heroic, in taking responsibility for their actions and not taking the easy route out, through having an abortion.


    1. Yes, we can help through private charity, which has a moral stigma attached to it, and is frequently linked to religion. If you think that it is a good idea to collect money from fathers-to-be who are saving for their future marriages, and then distribute that money by mail, with no moral stigma, to women who freely choose to have sex with immoral, anti-marriage men, then you are actually LOWERING THE COSTS to immoral behavior. You are encouraging evil. And causing more children to be raised without fatherless. And they in turn raise fatherless children. Note that fatherlessness is linked to LOSS OF BELIEF IN GOD. You are doing God no favors by thinking that “compassion” helps him in some way. I have talked to people who were raised fatherless. It is NOT something to take lightly. MORAL BOUNDARIES. Not compassion. And certainly not celebration.

      You can be compassionate with your own money, but do not celebrate the sin by normalizing it with government subsidies.

      If you want government to do something, offer tax deductions for charitable contributions or ADOPTION.


      1. I think Jamie raises a valid point in that when we heap shame on women who get pregnant outside marriage it encourages abortion. Plenty of Christians get abortions for precisely that reason: they’re more afraid of looking bad in front of their fellow Christians than of the terrible evil of taking the life of their own child. A good balance needs to be struck between not condoning premarital sex and offering grace to the sinner.

        The women who get pregnant outside of marriage are actually often not the worst offenders in terms of sexual sin. Often, the reason they’re pregnant is because they weren’t taking the contraceptive pill. Most of them succumbed in the moment, rather than planning to sin so they could get away with it. There is such hypocrisy in our churches that frown on the unwed mother and yet pretend it’s all fine when professed “Christians” are brazenly living together and fornicating – so long as nobody gets pregnant. Basically, if you plan your sinning you can get away with it, but if you don’t plan on sinning and you succumb in the moment, then you can’t get away with it.

        I don’t think that cheques to single mothers across the board are the answer though, so I agree with WK in that respect. The left wasn’t really worried about preventing abortions anyway, so that’s not the rationale behind their strategy (although I can understand that many Chistians would vote for such strategies with preventing abortion in mind). If the leftists making financial decisions in government really cared about preventing abortion they wouldn’t have funded Planned Parenthood, and they wouldn’t try to remove federal funding for pro-life crisis pregnancy centres.

        I think the answer is to fund pro-life crisis pregancy centres, to promote adoption, and to address poverty in sensible ways, like feeding schemes in poor schools, educational bursaries for children who work hard, etc.

        I think the title of your post, WK, is a little misleading. The problem is not compassion (vs judgment). The problem is mismanaged compassion. If we apply compassion rightly we can do good. Compassion and moral judgment are also not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand-in-hand.


    2. Is human life not something that ought to be celebrated, regardless of the circumstances in which that human life was brought into the world?

      I don’t know anyone (though I’m sure there are some somewhere) that would be against celebrating the birth of the child. WK is not arguing that the birth of the child shouldn’t be celebrated. What he is arguing is that single moms, especially teens, shouldn’t be glamorized and put over as heroes. Also, the Government shouldn’t be supporting single moms the way it does because the supporting backfires. I know of women/girls that had unprotected sex to get pregnant so they could have a free ride through college. I’m not the only one that could attest to that. Backfire. That is the problem with government aid; people milk the system.

      I know it might sound harsh to say that government shouldn’t provide aid the way it does for single moms, but the aid is not truly aid when it creates dependency systems and incentive to get pregnant for no other reason than to get free tuition for college or other freebies.

      As WK said, people can help single moms through private charity and the government can help by offering tax deductions for charitable donations or adoption. Private aid does not create dependency or incentive for freebies.


        1. You’re welcome. I know some might would think I understand because I’m a male and can’t ever experience the problem of an unwanted pregnancy the way a female does. However, that argument has the odious smell of a fallacy and shouldn’t be used.

          Folks on our side understand the consequences of government aid for problems like unwanted pregnancy. Like I said in my other comment down below, people have an emotional problem with this issue not an intellectual one.


  3. How this got glamorized is simply appalling. There is nothing glamorous about the raising a bastard child (not being mean or blaming the child- just pointing out a accurate fact that has lost meaning in Western Society) or raising a child without a father in a stable home.

    I am sorry to say – the children suffer for the willful cruelty of the parent.


    1. And it’s worse when well-meaning Christians jettison the moral boundaries in the Bible and substitute postmodern relativist standards of morality, and call that Christianity. Call the sin a sin, then open your own wallet and lead the person as you support them. Do not not give your money to a secular-left government so they can affirm the bad behavior with your tax dollars.


      1. Many Christians don’t even know that they are substituting postmodern relativist standards of morality. They don’t even know what that means!


        1. That’s what Greg Koukl and Doug Groothuis books are for. Greg has a lecture called “Christianity at the end of the Twentieth Century” or something and I really recommend that. One of the things I like about him is that he actually gives a damn and you can hear it at the end of his lecture.


          1. I love Greg Koukl. I’m currently reading Tactics, and I listen to his podcast. Thanks for the recommendation.


  4. Intellectually, this post and the article you used with it convince me that yes, single moms are declared heroes in the eyes of popular media and other outlets. I don’t think people will have any intellectual problem swallowing that. However, I do think people will, emotionally, have a problem swallowing this post.

    Ann Coulter also makes a good case for your argument. I think she makes the case in her book Guilty.


    1. That’s why all the men love Ann Coulter. Left-wing feminist socialist women complain that men don’t like strong, outspoken women – but it’s a self-serving lie. What we don’t like are outspoken feminists and socialists. Ann Coulter is a friend of men. She knows how we work and she knows what we do. She doesn’t want our money going to the state. She doesn’t want to stifle us from our male roles in the family and in society. In her written work, she often makes strong defenses of policemen, firemen and the military. Women think that they are winning men over when they oppose guns and war. That is exactly the attitude that cause men to avoid marriage. Women say they like men, but they really just want to be liked by men. To like men, you have to understand men. It’s not possible to understand men unless you are well-informed. And emotions and intuitions are not the way to be informed. You do not say to a Marine deployed in Iraq “Guns are scary because they go boom”. That is just ignorant. And men don’t like ignorance.


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