The liberals' narrow approach to abortion

Mona Charen

June 23, 1993|By Mona Charen

THE New York Times has focused on the story of on teen-age girl in Buffalo, N.Y., who decided not to have an abortion.

In selecting this one girl, Marisol Rodriquez, 19, the Times thinks it has found a story that shows "why the anti-abortion movement is criticized as caring more about fetuses than children."

Well, maybe. But the story shows a great deal more than that. It illustrates the narrowness of the liberal approach to social problems.

It is a sacred tenet of liberalism that our illegitimacy rate is going through the roof because young people are poorly informed about birth control. More sex education classes and more condoms are the answer, we are told again and again.

Yet in the story of Marisol, we have evidence that this is hardly the case. Marisol and her boyfriend began their relationship when she was 14.

Though the girl's mother considered premarital sex to be a sin and cautioned Marisol to abstain until her wedding night, there ,, were other, alas, more powerful forces at play in the girl's life. "Everybody at school kept bugging us," Marisol told the Times. "Asking us, 'When are you going to have sex? When are you going to have a kid?'"

This is what liberals find impossible to admit: Kids know all about birth control. But in many communities, having babies is not just an unintended consequence of unguarded sex; it is a goal.

Liberalism tends to suffer from an overly instrumental emphasis. Are there too many gun deaths in America? Well, let's just take the guns away. Are there too many illegitimate babies? Well, let's just hand out condoms and abortions.

I've seldom heard a liberal acknowledge that lots of teen-agers are either a) having babies deliberately or b) having them carelessly.

Marisol and her boyfriend succumbed to peer pressure and had sex. She says she conceived the first time. Perhaps so. She also says that she and her boyfriend didn't believe it was possible to get pregnant "the first time." Maybe they were misinformed. But if so, it was not for lack of sex education classes. The New York school system offers its kids encyclopedic information on sex and birth control.

Once pregnant, Marisol was distraught. Feeling happy and "womanly" on one hand, yet fearful of her mother's fierce disapproval, she decided to have an abortion. But when she reached the Buffalo GYN Womenservices clinic, she found herself in the middle of a pro-life protest rally. As she headed for the door, Marisol heard someone call out, "Don't kill your baby," and it stunned her. "That's when it hit me," she said. "I was going to kill my baby."

Now I'll admit that some of the tactics of pro-life protesters make me uncomfortable. And the words "Don't kill your baby" sound harsh to the ear. But that bluntness worked with Marisol and 11 other young women that week.

Marisol decided to carry the child to term. She was housed, fed and clothed by the pro-life movement. They even threw a baby shower for her. But after the birth of the child, she was on her own -- her boyfriend having long since bailed out. Lindsay Gruson, the reporter for the Times, thinks this is evidence that the pro-life movement cares only for fetuses, not for children. But what does he expect? Shall the pro-life movement, in addition to saving the life of the baby, care for mother and child forever?

Nowhere in the Times story does Mr. Gruson acknowledge that there is a third alternative in crisis pregnancy cases. It is not a stark choice between abortion and a life of poverty for an unready single mom. There is the life-affirming, loving choice of adoption available to every woman who feels she cannot give her baby the kind of life he or she deserves.

No one argues that choosing adoption is an easy alternative for a mother -- even a very immature one -- who has carried the baby for nine months. But every woman who says, "I could never do that," and chooses abortion instead is passing a death sentence the baby. Is that kinder?

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

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