Articles

We All Must Answer for Why Teenagers Kill Their Babies

Our disposable society tells us that children, forks, diapers and spouses can be thrown away when they are inconvenient.

By: Al Howard

Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1997

I have been a pastor for 23 years. Fourteen of those years have been spent in a very direct way counseling and ministering to young women who find themselves pregnant, scared and in too many cases, with nowhere to go and no one they feel they can turn to for help in their crisis situation.

My wife, Judy, and I decided in 1983 to do something for the brave young women in our society who were pregnant and homeless and decide not to take the easy way out. You might be surprised to know that there are many walking the streets of America, sleeping in their car ( if they are fortunate enough to still have cars) and there are no Planned Parenthoods or feminists’ groups for them to turn to . The same organizations that are so eager to help them secure tax-paid abortions have no housing and no help for them if they opt to give life as a gift to their children.

Now a question ricochets and echoes across American and into the deep recesses of our consciences. How can young women – as is alleged in cases in New Jersey, Delaware and now of students at USC and Cal State Fullerton – give birth and then callously walk away and leave their newborns to die as if this were only one of life’s minor inconveniences?

Why do we recoil in horror of such acts? After all, we live in a quick fix society. These just happen to be incidents that came to our attention because the dead children were discovered. Yet we live in a culture that has disposed of more than 35 million children through what we call “freedom of choice.” Abortion still removes 4,500 innocent babies every day. They were also, I guess, an inconvenience to their moms and dads and in many cases their grandparents.

How can a gifted, intelligent, pretty young teenager who comes from a good home give birth in a restroom to a baby she carried in secret for nine months and leave this tiny defenseless infant dead or dying while she rejoins her friends and dances with her boyfriend to a song that she requested? You may not agree with or like my answer, but I’m prepared to give it anyway.

I have housed and cared for more than 5,000 pregnant women and children since 1983, and almost in every case we see a terrible void in these young women; a breakdown in relationships with mom and dad. They look for love in all the wrong places. They run from insecure situations at home to a world filled with lust that pretends to be love, empty promises, easy drugs and instant gratification. They speak of their “fair-weather” friends who helped them in their initial flight. We live in a “purposeless generation” what seems to have no understanding of the immense value of new life or of the lives of others.

Those of us who still have faith and haven’t given up have our work cut out for us. What do we really expect when our educational system has taught for all these years that the human race has evolved from animals, when we not only see God and Christian values being ridiculed but also see genuine efforts to eradicate them from the face of the Earth.

Films are not good anymore if they aren’t laced with graphic violence.

What do we do with things we don’t want? We throw them away.

Our lives are touched daily with disposable products, from eating utensils to diapers. Use it once, throw it away. If it doesn’t work or isn’t perfect, pitch it and get a new one. This is perhaps, in an unconscious way, the attitude of too many parents about their own offspring.

We hear that by the year 2000, 50% of American families will be step-families. The majority of kids will be raised by a single parent. Already, a whooping 75% of mothers work outside the home.

At His Nesting Place, they cry to me, and they sometimes lie to me, they love me and in certain moments they hate me, many of them ask for so much and are unwilling to give even a little. They exhilarate and disappoint me. In short, they do all the things we did to our parents. But we hang in there with them and do our best to give them unconditional love. This is what the young people of America need: a home, a place they feel secure and cared for, but most especially, a dad, a mom and love.

The Rev. Al Howard is director of His Nesting Place, a home for unwed mothers in Long Beach.

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