Unwed Motherhood Reaches the Halls of Congress

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Nov 21, 2008 12:03 PM
California congresswoman Linda Sanchez has announced that she will become Congress' first unwed mother.

First, kudos to Sanchez, for -- of course -- not aborting the baby (it's a sad commentary that such congratulations are even necessary).  From the linked story, however, it seems that she deliberately became pregnant out of wedlock; this wasn't an "accident" in any way, shape or form.

That, to me, is a sign of complete and utter irresponsibility.  Since the dawn of time, single women have become pregnant accidentally.  It's only in modern times that society has decided that it's A-OK for them to try to do so, even without any formal commitment (to them or their babies) from their children's fathers.  While in some cases that may work just fine for the women themselves, it's not so great for the children who are deprived of a father who's been willing to make a commitment to them and their mother.

What's more, Sanchez is a highly visible Latina, who may well serve as a role model for many young girls, especially in her community.  Interestingly, she insists that this is a "teachable moment" for them, presumably to learn when it's ok to become a single mother (!) and when it's not.  Here's what she had to say:

I'm established in my life. I have a career. I'm financially stable. I have a loving, committed partner. 

If the "partner" is so "loving" and "committed" -- why isn't he willing to put a ring on her finger and promise to love and cherish her 'til death they do part?  And if he's not, is that really the kind of father she wants for her baby?

Apparently, Sanchez's "partner" told the press:

We have the rest of our lives to get engaged and married -- we don't have the rest of our lives' for Sanchez to become pregnant.

Given the ease and speed with which one can arrange to be married by a priest and/or at City Hall, it really doesn't take that much effort to tie the knot . . . at least for those who actually want to do it.

The moral obtuseness of the entire undertaking is unfortunate -- and unworthy of the example that a woman who'd like to portray herself as a groundbreaking congresswoman should be setting. 

In some circumstances, single motherhood is the only option for a woman and her baby, and those women (and, of course, their children) are entitled to our compassion and concern.  But to see it treated as simply another "lifestyle alternative" when it would be not only possible -- but easy -- to give the child a stable family with a married mother and father is profoundly regrettable.

Update And, by the way, this has nothing to do with the media "trashing" of Bristol Palin.  In contrast to Sanchez, who seems to believe that what she's chosen to do is just great, everyone from the right to the left agreed that Bristol's situation -- a young girl who became pregnant out of wedlock -- was suboptimal, including her parents.  What's more, Bristol Palin and her baby's father have implicitly acknowledged the importance of a family headed by married parents by announcing definite plans to wed, unlike Congresswoman Sanchez and her "partner."  (In fact, Miss Palin sets a standard in that regard that the congresswoman should heed.)

It's easy for some among us piously to insist that no one should "judge" Bristol Palin or Congresswoman Sanchez.  But there was no need to clarify standards of behavior in Bristol's case, as she and her parents already themselves recognized that, despite the fact that every baby is a blessing, Bristol's situation (and the behavior that led up to it) was unfortunate.  In contrast, Congresswoman Sanchez just doesn't seem to get it. 

Finally, it's easy to pretend that one has the high ground by insisting that no one has any right to express an opinion about others' sexual behavior.  The problem with that "hands off" approach is that it ultimately results in the eradication of any standards, with the field being ceded to the most licentious among us.  And in the end, who suffers?  "The children," that group supposedly so beloved by the left.