| January 18, 2006
Advance for January 21, 2006
How to Reduce Out-of-Wedlock Births
by Michael J. McManus
Many children are conceived when neither parent wanted a pregnancy.
Alexander Hamilton, for example, was born out-of-wedlock yet rose to become an
aide to George Washington during the American Revolution, his first Secretary of
the Treasury and an architect of America's free enterprise system.
When abortion was legalized in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, I anticipated the
number of unplanned births would sharply decline. However, births to unwed
mothers tripled from 430,000 in 1973 to 1.4 million in 2003, 35 percent of all
The very availability of abortion has increased parental irresponsibility.
Children of unwed parents are three times as likely as those from intact homes
to be expelled from school or to give birth as a teenager. They are five times
as apt to live in poverty, and 22 times as likely to be incarcerated.
Yet pro-life organizations, such as several thousand Pregnancy Resource Centers,
are partly responsible for the flood of children being born out-of-wedlock. They
are so intent on saving the life of the baby, which is commendable, that the M
word (marriage) is never focused upon. I oppose abortion and support the mother
Where I part company with Pregnancy Resource Centers is that the result from the
child's point of view is invariably the worst of three options. Only about 1% of
the children are adopted, though millions of infertile, married couples long to
adopt a child. Studies indicate that children who are adopted perform better in
school, for example, than those born to married parents!
Very few mothers marry the father, which would be an excellent outcome, for
perhaps 60% of pregnant mothers, estimated. Kris Cook of Sycamore House
Pregnancy Center in Urbana, Ohio. Sadly, she added, "In the past year, not a
single client got married. It used to happen all the time."
So the child will be reared by a single mom, who is unlikely ever to marry. Only
a small percentage of those children will fare well in the world.
Therefore, it is time for Pregnancy Resource Centers to take responsibility for
their failure to give the children they help save - a brighter future.
Once a woman has undergone months of pregnancy and given birth, it is almost
impossible to persuade her to relinquish the child to adoption. On the other
hand, the best possible future for the child is to be brought up by his/her own
For many, that is a realistic option. However, if the woman loves the baby's
father and is mature enough, she may want to marry him, but he's not asked. In
other cases, he may be more interested in marriage, but she is skeptical due to
their unresolved differences.
At Marriage Savers, the non-profit group my wife and I lead, we think the answer
is to offer to mentor the couple for three-four months of marriage
preparation. Who should do so? The female volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource
Center (and her husband) - who can be trained to be a Mentor Couple.
If the PRC volunteer tries to talk about marriage with the pregnant woman, the
subject can not get very far because the father is uninvolved. But what if she
says, "Do you love David? Would you and he like to be mentored by my husband and
me to give marriage serious consideration? We would not pressure you to marry,
but help you to build a healthy relationship. You would take a premarital
inventory to assess your strengths as a couple and where you need to grow. We
could also teach you communication and conflict resolution skills.
"Our goal as mentors is to help you increase the quality of your relationship so
that you might decide to marry before your baby is born. That would be the best
outcome for everyone."
Care Net, a network of 900 Pregnancy Resource Centers, invited us to train PRC
directors and their husbands at a convention in September to offer couple
mentoring. In evaluation forms, their observations were very encouraging:
"Awesome. Greatly needed," said one. "Something we have been looking for, for
quite some time," added another.
However, in calling back half of those we trained four months ago, not one has
started mentoring unwed couples, though some plan to do so.
Conclusion: Pregnancy Resource Centers are only focusing on half of their task -
saving the life of the baby, but not on giving that baby a viable future.
It is time for reform.
30+ Years / 1700+ Columns
2017: Column 1860: Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part I
Texting While Driving - A Killer
Why Have "Religious Nones" Tripled?
Norma McCorvey Roe of Roe v. Wade
The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Christianity Gives Women Equal Opportunity
Sextortion Kills Teens
Assisted Suicide Is Growing
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,