Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Pregnancy Pact in Gloucester, Ma.

A clarification:

This is what I read on 6/23/08:
"I am not able to confirm the existence of a pact," Mayor Carolyn Kirk said. "Any planned blood oath to become pregnant there is no evidence."

Time magazine last week reported a rumor, given credence in an interview with Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan, that the girls, all under 16 years old, promised each other to become pregnant and raise their children together.

"Beyond the statement of the principal, we have no evidence there was a pact," the mayor said. "The principal could not remember who told him that."

The mayor and school officials said the girls may have made an agreement to support each other after becoming pregnant, but that was not the same as creating a premeditated "pact" to become pregnant.

So there is no evidence of a pact about getting pregnant. Whether the 24-year old homeless man story is true or not is also unclear.

Yeah. Despite that caveat I entered in the original post, I sort of fell for the story, because it was in Time, with interviews with some of the students, because I woke up to a talk show about it, with experts and because I heard the reporter being interviewed about the interviews she had done. Nowhere did they say that all information came from the high school principal alone.

My apologies. Will try to do better in the future.

Time reports on schoolgirls getting pregnant on purpose, in a pact to bring up their children together. It's not possible to say whether any of that is true, of course, but you can judge for yourselves:

As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town. School officials started looking into the matter as early as October after an unusual number of girls began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were pregnant. By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, "some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. "We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," the principal says, shaking his head.

The whole piece creates more questions than it answers. Is it really true that the school has made pregnancy too attractive an option? What would be the alternative, then? To shame pregnant girls into hiding and not going to school? And does nobody tell these girls what taking care of a child really means? And if they do, why don't the girls listen?

What do the pro-birth people think about all this? Now that's a real conundrum. I can imagine their eyes going all crooked in trying to decide whether this is good or bad.

But of course the saddest part of the story is a future looking so bleak to these girls that getting a baby seems like the best way to get unconditional love and a plan for something to do. The next saddest part is that they have been left adrift this way, without other plans or the healthy kind of self-love they need to wait until they actually do have the resources for a child.