Maggie Gallagher

The very public feud between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump erupted after Rosie criticized The Donald's decision to give Miss USA a very public "second chance." Donald, what do you think about doing the same for Miss New Jersey USA?

Ashley Harder voluntarily stepped down after discovering that she was pregnant, which is against the pageant rules.

Ashley could have kept the chance to compete for the Miss USA title this March by having a safe and legal abortion. Instead she demonstrated that some things really are more important than reaching for Donald Trump's tiara: "This isn't another scandal. This is a baby; this is a life," Harder told a reporter. And she said being a mom "is a title I have always wanted and will always cherish."

Ashley also told the Philadelphia Daily News that she and her live-in boyfriend (28, with a snowboarding apparel company) are thinking of getting married. People like me would wish she had thought harder about that before getting pregnant.

But in fairness to Ashley, her situation is no longer unusual. According to the CDC's latest report, nearly four in 10 American babies are born outside of marriage, an increasing proportion to cohabiting couples. An analysis of the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth found that young women who cohabit are about twice as likely as young women who are either married or have a noncohabiting boyfriend to experience a "contraceptive failure." For women in Ashley's age bracket (20 to 24), about a quarter experience a contraceptive failure (also known as a pregnancy) in the first 12 months of use.

Other surveys show that the majority of cohabiting young women see themselves in permanent, faithful, marriagelike relationships. Unfortunately, surveys of young men who cohabit show that as a group they are less committed to their girlfriends than men who are simply dating (and not living with) a woman. I sincerely hope that Miss New Jersey USA has chosen a man who will prove an exception, the kind who properly appreciates having in his life a beautiful, talented woman who, given a choice between bearing and loving his child and parading before national television cameras, appears to have had no difficulty picking the former. (Memo to same: At my mall, Tiffany's is open until 9 p.m.)


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.