Friday, December 21, 2007


In my previous column, mainly devoted to John McCain's, I wrote about Mike Huckabee's unfortunate comment that Jamie Spears's pregnancy was a "tragedy." Now, my comments seem to be controversial with some Huckabee supporters (of whom I'm not one). Here's my additional comment.

I wrote a column today with two parts, one about John McCain, the other about Mike Huckabee's criticism of Jamie Spears, who is pregnant at age 16.

Mike called the pregnancy a "tragedy," which is a rather wild misuse of that word. He then apparently complimented Miss Spears on not choosing to have an abortion. Which is it, Mike? A good thing or a bad thing? Is she being irresponsible -- or is she demonstrating real courage.

Later, I heard that Nikolodeon (which run Jamie's show directed to pre-teens and young teens) was planning to have a special (with Linda Ellerbee) on teen pregnancy. I wish Mike had suggested something like that approach, rather than being the clueless Southern Baptist minister we all have come to know and love.

I've been on the scene with several teen pregnancies (including two in my own family) and the very last thing you should say to any mother-to-be is that being pregnant is a "tragedy" or even the the result of "bad behavior." Frankly, most young girls who are "with child" don't regard it as a tragedy but more like a blessing from God. That's the way members of my family looked at it, and abortion was never a consideration.

Why does Mike Huckabee regard it as some terrible developing? Characterizing a teen pregnancy or any kind of pregnancy as some awful, tragic event is a great way to induce young women to have an abortion.

Frankly, when a woman (or a girl) is pregnant, the "horse" has left the barn, and decent people (even Baptist ministers) have to move into a supportive role. If Mike is this easily horrified by something that happens 800,000 times per year (teen pregnancies), he needs a basic course in reality. The time to condemn Miss Spears ended at the moment of conception.

Parents and friends who tell pregnant children that it will be the ruination of their lives are a major cause of abortion in the U.S.

Pregnancy is NOT a tragedy. So, wake up, Mike.

What I hope Jamie Spears will do is to advise other teens to avoid becoming pregnant when they are 17 or younger. At the same time, I hope she'll urge those teens who do become pregnant to carry their child to term -- and to bring him or her up with the support of family and friends. I also hope she'll take courses in parenting.

In the past, she's been the rational, practical member of the Spears family, and I hope those qualities manifest themselves in the future.

As always, comments are welcome.
steve maloney

Addition on Abortion:

I've written a couple of times on the issue of abortion (and the related issue of embryonic stem cells), and I'm very impatient with candidates, like Huckabee, who are members of what I call "Pro-Life, Inc." Those who people who identify themselves as "pro-life," but propose no practical solutions to the problem.

Huckabee proposes a constitutional amendment, apparently to overturn Roe v. Wade. There will never be such an amendment in our life. The last serious Human Life Amendment (see Wikipedia) was in 1983. It needed 67 votes to pass, and it got 49. It's doubtful that such an amendment would get more than 40 votes.

There are practical ways to reduce the number of abortions -- and increase the number of adoptions -- in America. The candidates who seem most likely to do such things are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

Mike Huckabee's comments about Jamie Spears irritated me. He seems to have little understand of WHO gets abortions and WHY. Until we grasp such facts, little will be done to confront the conditions (such as poverty and parental pressure) that cause women and girls to have abortions.

What has happened -- see Christopher's perceptive comments -- is that abortion is for many people, including Hollywood starlets, the approach with the fewest consequences. Some evangelical (not all of course) with a highly judgmental approach actually encourage pregnant women to have abortions.

If women, especially teenagers, are told that the worst possible thing that can happen to them is get pregnant, then they'll "take care" of that in short order. A child is either a gift from God -- or not. I choose to believe that "is" is the correct answer.


My experience has been that when girls get pregnant at a young age, they need support -- sometone to turn to who won't judge or verbally attack them. Often, they get the opposite from family and "lovers." Learning how to take good, basic care of a child isn't brain surgery or rocket science, but it's not something people know by instinct.

Many of the problems with teens in our society -- abortion, crime, poor performance in schools -- are not beyond solution. Most young people appreciate someone who's there to listen to them and to answer questions. They need a friend, not a persistent critic.

I believe Jamie Spears's mother loves her -- and that she loves her sometimes irritating older daughter. However, the evidence suggests she probably won't win the Parent-of-the-Year Award.

Teenagers like people to listen to them, although they often don't reciprocate. I wish parents and teens spent more time talking to each other -- and not at each other.

Anyways, I wish all mothers well. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it, and they're that "someone."


Christopher said...

My mind couldn't help but wonder how many other child stars have gotten pregnant? I'd have no idea about the number but there is a reason why I would have no idea. The reason Jamie Lynn Spears is making headlines isn't that she's gotten pregnant, it's because she's chosen to keep it.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Christopher, in a very few words you've said a whole lot. I think what happens with Jamie in the next few years is very important. I read the interview with Jamie in Newsweek a couple of years ago, and I ended up smiling because she did a good job answering the questions (which were the kind adults ask children). Unfortunately, having abortions in Hollywood is about as common as getting a nose job or botox. I'm going to add a little to the column about my friend in GA who worked for "Birthright" and whose attitude to pregnant teens was one of total kindness, gentleness, and support. Mike needs to stop playing to the least attractive elements of the evangelical community.


James H said...


How come when I get the transcript of this I will see that perhaps Huckabee remarks were not so "dramatic".

Generally and I think people agree it is not a great thing when people her age get pregnant in this day and age. True every life is wonderful but I think rational people could agree that perhaps this great miracle of life and goodness couldhave occureed once she was outside HIgh School and perhaps married.

From what I read there was no condeeming or sitting in vast judgment of the girl.

James H said...

Ok I found it

From CBS News producer Mary Hood:

DIKE, IOWA -- Baptist minister and anti-abortion supporter Mike Huckabee was asked today about 16-year old celebrity Jamie Lynn Spears' decision to continue her unplanned pregnancy.

While the candidate has been notably caught off-guard by breaking news events recently, today he passed a test of pop culture with flying colors.

News of Britney Spears younger sister's pregnancy broke this week and now graces international tabloids including OK! Magazine. While the candidate's answer may have fit any out-of-wedlock teen in the same situation, he commented with knowing confidence:

"It's a tragedy when a 16-year-old who is not really prepared for all the responsibilities of adult life is going to be now faced with all the responsibilities of honest-to-goodness adult life. I respect it."

"Apparently, she's going to have the child and I think that is the right decision, a good decision, and I respect that and appreciate it. I hope it is not an encouragement to other 16-year-olds who think that is the best course of action."

"But at the same time I'm not going to condem her. There'll be plenty of people in line to do that and I always look for the shortest lines. I just hope that she will make another right decision and that's to give that child all the love and kindness and care that she can."

Ok lets be honest here. There is nothing bad about what Huckabee said here lol. I mean I know we are Catholic here but its rare that I hear a Priest or a CCD teacher go Lteenage pregnacy is great. GO on do it its wonderful!!!" lol

IN fact doing a quick google search it appears that the media is not even thinking he said anything out of line.

So I suspect this as a campaign issue of "THe mean bad ignorant Huckabee" is not really a winner :)

Oh and give you give me a link to the McCain comments on this when he was asked about it so I compare:)

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Hi James: I don't think what Huckabee said exactly covered him in glory. I wish he said something like: "Look, I don't know this particular young woman or her circustances or her particular capacity to raise a child. In general, my experience and faith tell me it's preferable to wait until marriage until conceiving a child." He said he wouldn't "stand in line' to condemn here but in a way he did. When I encountered similar developments in my own family, I didn't see it as any kind of tragedy, although I felt my own disapproval could turn it into one. My point is mostly that many (mostly) young women choose to have abortions because of pressure from family and friends. I would guess that the age for marriage (with permission of one parent?) in Louisiana would be about 16. In South Carolina, it used to be 14. Another reason many young women give for having an abortion is that they're not old to care for a child. As I mentioned, what I know of Jamie consists mainly of an interview she had two years ago with Newsweek. I don't believe McCain commented on the subject, and I hope he doesn't.


James H said...

In the end he was asked about it and he did a quick ad lib anwer. To be honest I am surprised that someone even had time to brief him on who this girls was. Unless he Huckabee is a Nick fan.

Anyway his slight shot across the mighty Huckabee bow is the leat of my worries. If you notice Huckabee is being attacked on all sides now. Somebody in DC that likes HUckabee was quoted in an Atlantic BLog and Rush goes off for 4 hours. Oh well. Take heed my friend!!! If we go down then you will have the pleasure of taking the arrows when they go after your GUY :) Trust me if its McCain their short truce with him will not last.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Whoever is the frontrunner, and Mike is in Iowa, gets his turn in the barrel. I realize that candidates get asked their opinion on nearly everything, and I think it's alright (the media doesn't) to say, "I don't know enough about the particular circumstances of that matter to give an informed comment." The abortion issue is a tricky one. Those of us who would like to see fewer (a whole lot fewer) taking place have to make sure that we don't unintentionally encourage girls/women to have them. When a girl, be she 14, 15, 16, or 17 gets pregnant, we need to show Christian love -- period. Yes, some good counseling would also help, but there's not enough of that around. As I started reading who had abortions (especially Blacks and Hispanics) and why they had them (poverty is a big factor), I started to look at the situation in a much different way. Being judgmental in any sense tends to backfire. Somebody like Jamie is lucky enough to have the resources to get help, which she will need. Whether she knows she needs it is another matter!