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Senator Obama, Meet Gloucester High School
Gloucester, MA--Right on cue, real life illuminates the truth. As I described a few days ago, Senator Obama gave a Father"s Day speech calling for "responsible fatherhood.' He, like President Bush, lays all the blame for rampant fatherlessness on irresponsible fathers who are "acting like boys, not men.' Now along comes Gloucester High School to show that the Senator got it only part right. TIME magazine and the CBS Evening News report a surge of pregnancies among high school girls in Gloucester beginning last October. Seventeen girls are expecting babies in this 1,200-student school. None of these girls is older than 16. It now turns out that nearly half these girls have confessed to making a pact to have babies and raise them together--a sad adolescent fantasy if ever there was one. Senator Obama, this proves my point, that irresponsible fathers are just one part of the problem. Women too are choosing fatherlessness for their children--single mothers by choice, single mothers by semi-choice (if the kid can have a father great, but if not, no big deal), and divorcing mothers who obstruct shared parenting, who move far away, or who obtain false restraining orders against the father. Gloucester High School shows us that both males and females have decided that children having fathers is not nearly as important as adult narcissism--men who can have sex without consequences, and women who can have babies to love them without the bother of a partner. Gloucester officials and the media are debating all the wrong points, and are neglecting all the important ones. During the school year, the school nurse and a local pediatrician wanted to prescribe contraceptives without parental consent. But the girls wanted to get pregnant, so this would have prevented nothing. Besides, this is a terrible idea; what we need is more parental involvement, not less. The school nixed parentless contraception. Instead, it touts its on-site childcare center, another non-solution. The CEO of the childcare center, sensing more business, said, "We"re proud to help the mothers stay in school.' Here are the real issues -- the ones nobody is discussing, at least not publicly. Why did these girls feel so unloved that they needed babies to feel whole? What"s going on in their families? Here"s my wager: most of these girls are fatherless – the strongest predictor of teenage pregnancy is fatherlessness. Is anyone counseling these girls to adopt out their babies (with the consent of the fathers)? This is the best solution for the babies. There are long waiting lists of loving, fit, middle class parents trying to adopt newborns. Where is the concept of "best interests of the child' when we need it? It will be painful for the girls and boys who have produced these babies, but we all suffer pain when we make a bad mistake, and it will be far less than the chronic pain for girls of single parenting and for boys of crushing child support payments. Who are the fathers? How old are they? Will the parents of the babies marry, and if not, what role will the fathers be allowed to take in helping to raise the children? If these babies grow up fatherless, how will we prevent them from becoming the next generation of single parents when they become teens? Senator Obama, President Bush and all other advocates of "responsible fatherhood': You are making fathers the scapegoat for a deep-rooted problem created by both men and women – a cultural attitude that these babies don"t need fathers. Your vision is too narrow, your remedies a placebo. It"s always easier to find a scapegoat than to solve a problem. Give us your take on this below.