Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (2): November 14, 1985

In November, 1985, the paper published an editorial, Our Greatest Problem, I gave response and a cascade began.


Editorial: The birth of children to parents who either don’t want them or are unable to care for them may be the single greatest source of societal problems.

Child abuse, juvenile delinquency, mental illness, malnutrition, divorce, the welfare syndrome, homelessness — an almost endless list — can be correlated to unwanted pregnancies.

In Massachusetts, the record is somewhat better than it is elsewhere in the nation. But teenage mothers still account for nearly one birth out of every 10 here, and about 65 percent of those teen mothers are unwed. Unwed mothers in all age groups account for about one out of every six births in Massachusetts.

Our best hope for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies has always been family planning and sex education. The more teenagers know about how to prevent a pregnancy through contraception, and the more available contraception is, the fewer children will be born to parents who can’t care for them.

More money is needed for this sort of service, but a bill in Congress would cut the federal support for family planning. An Amendment to the federal Title X, which provides money for family planning, threatens to cut funds now being channeled to groups to provide information about abortion as well as controlling or preventing pregnancies.

One of those groups is the North Shore Family Planning Council, headquartered in Beverly. The group provides such services as pap smears, contraceptives and pregnancy testing to 8,000 women yearly, most of them teenagers and the poor. It also will give a pregnant girl or woman the information about where to get an abortion, and ow to put a child up for adoption, or where to get support if the woman wants to carry the pregnancy to term and keep her baby.

Thirty percent of the Family Planning Council’s budget comes form Title X. Under the amendment sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., the council would lose that money.

We think that would be a case of Congress attempting to supercede the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion. The Hatch-Kemp amendment, if passed, would also have its greatest effect among the poorest segments of our society — the segments that need family-planning services the most — and would result in even more children being cared for by parents who aren’t ready to do the job well.