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Pregnancy Pact Shocks the Nation

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer (June 20, 2008) Glamorizing teen pregnancy in hit movies such as Juno and Knocked Up, broken families and directionless youth are being blamed for a “pregnancy pact” made by 17 girls who deliberately became pregnant at a high school in a Gloucester, Massachusetts. At least one baby is known to have been fathered by a 24 year old homeless man. According to a report by Time Magazine, officials at Gloucester High School started looking into the matter in October after an unusual number of girls began coming to the school clinic for pregnancy tests. According to principal Joseph Sullivan, “some girls seemed more upset when they weren’t pregnant than when they were.”   Those who found out they were expecting reacted with “high fives and plans for baby showers,” Sullivan said. The girls, aged 16 and under, eventually revealed that they entered a pact to become pregnant and raise their babies together. Many factors are being blamed for the girls’ disturbing behavior; including the school that many believe went overboard in accommodating pregnant students. A free on-site day-care center at the school enables teen parents to bring their children with them every day, thus making teen parenting look easier than it is. According to the Time report, “Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC.” Naivety is another culprit. A June 8 graduate of Gloucester High student, Amanda Ireland, 18, gave birth during her freshman year and said many of the now pregnant girls regularly approached her in the hall to tell her how lucky she was to have a baby. “They're so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally,”{ Ireland said. “I try to explain it's hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m.” Another factor is the poor economy in the mostly blue-collar town of Gloucester (pop. 30,000) which derives its income from a strong fishing industry.  But in recent years, as jobs have been disappearing overseas, many families are struggling. “Families are broken,” says school superintendent Christopher Farmer. “Many of our young people are growing up directionless.” The pregnancy pact is forcing this largely Catholic community to grapple with some hard questions, including what to do about it. However, rather than address the underlying moral issues, the school’s nurse practitioner, Kim Daly, and the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Brian Orr, lobbied for offering teens birth control without parental consent. The proposal drew the ire of Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk whose public outcry against the two led to their resignations last month. “It is very clear that the board [at Northeast Health System of Beverly, which manages the clinic] is not in favor and will not support contraception in the school,” Orr told the Boston Globe. “There is an epidemic of teen pregnancy at the school.” Psychiatrist Keith Ablow of Fox News called the school's epidemic “shocking.” "But the other thing we should realize is that we are hot on the heels of [17-year-old] Jamie Lynn Spears deciding to start a family and of mass media embracing the notion and waiting with bated breath for her baby," he said. Jamie Lynn gave birth to a baby girl on Thursday. Ablow said the example in Massachusetts should be heeded as a warning. “In a world that is so technologically based, there will be predictable push-back from young people,” he said. “They want to remind themselves that they are alive and human. One of the ways people do this is that they reproduce.”   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com   

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