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We Have a Sick Society

December 30, 2011
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The blog world is currently involved in tearful delight over the story of a misguided teenage girl who discovered she had brain cancer, got knocked up, and refused to have treatment to save her own life, preferring to be a baby making machine, like her mother, who had 8 children.  She died a few days after giving birth to a child who had a teenage father, who can’t support him.  Instead, his mother is raising the baby.

If this were the story of a young minority woman in the projects in Atlanta, St. Louis, or DC, the discussion would not be about the young woman’s courage, but just another teenage mom, adding to the welfare rolls. Instead, the story is being spun that she is another Mary, giving birth to another messiah.

She is courageous for getting pregnant AFTER knowing that the chemo she was taking would harm any child she was carrying.  She was not pregnant when she knew she had a form of brain cancer that allowed for a 30% survival rate beyond 2 years.

That’s a good survival rate.  This day and age, when you are diagnosed with certain cancers, the idea is to get it stabilized and keep your fingers crossed.  There’s a good chance, if you can beat it back for awhile, that a new treatment will come along to extend your life even longer.  When I was first diagnosed with melanoma, 14 years ago, unless one had an early stage, as was mine, it was a death sentence.  They basically have a cure, now.  The same thing holds true of the stem cell cancer my aunt has.  She was given a grim prognosis 13 years ago.  Even with treatment, they told her she would not survive beyond a few years.

Jenni Lake had a half-way decent chance of surviving.

Sometimes there are stories that are disturbing on so many levels.  This is one of them.  Please pardon The Pink Flamingo for not being at all sympathetic to the plight of now departed teenage unmarried mom, Jenni Lake.  I’m not.  Maybe I’m just cold, but I don’t think women should be baby machines.  The last time I made this statement I was barraged with mail stating that there was something wrong with me.  I guess there is.  I guess there is something wrong with me for thinking that there is more to life than having babies.  There are some conservatives who think our primary goal in life, as men and women, is to people the earth.  Good. Let them do it.

  • What is wrong with our society where girls are now so pressured to have a baby that they go almost insane if they don’t?
  • What is wrong with our society when a young woman would forgo her own life in order to get pregnant and have a child she knows will kill her?
  • Oh, the story is spun about how courageous she was, but maybe she wasn’t.
  • Was she even given a chance to survive?
  • Did anyone bother explaining that there are improvements in cancer treatment?
  • Does anyone even care that she was not even given a chance for life?

Don Surber

Jenni Lake was a minor.  She was under the age of 18.  She was told that, if she were to have chemo, she might be sterile.  Interestingly, the proper term is infertile.  She was NEVER given any alternative, such as freezing her eggs.  Instead, when she learned that she might be sterile, as a minor, she went out and got herself pregnant.

Her story is alarming because this is NOT about a so-called mother’s love, but a teenage girl who, following the trend of other teenage girls, got herself knocked- up so she could have a baby.   She is a courageous mother because she chose to allow herself to die in order to give her child life.

Why is that courageous?  To me, it is horribly selfish.  It is also blatantly dishonest for conservatives to praise the suicide “selfless” sacrifice of a young woman who had a brain tumor that may or may not have effected the way she processed information and behaved.  She should have had a viable adult to help make decisions, but evidently she did not.

Even more troubling is the possibility that our culture is increasingly limiting the value of women beyond baby-making.   Jenni Lake should have been taught that there is more to life than making babies, and more to a legacy than leaving an infant for someone else to raise.  She should have been taught that wanting to have a baby and reality are two different things.  Somewhere along in her life, she should been given worth as a person and not just as a womb.

Those who are waxing poetic about her self-less desire to leave a motherless infant to be raised by another, should also consider the fact that she was not even mature enough to make that decision.  She is part of a culture of teenage girls who think having babies will solve all their problems in the world – because they were not loved enough as children.

This tragic young woman was no hero.  The most tragic part was the fact that the treatment she was receiving was working. When she discovered she was ten weeks pregnant she discontinued treatment, opting for suicide the life of her child rather than her own life.  The irony here is we don’t know what effect the chemo she was taking had already had on the 10 week old fetus. The first trimester is the most important time in a baby’s development.

Like I said, if Jenni Lake had been a different race, living in the projects in Atlanta, St. Louis or DC, or in LA, she would be criticized for bring another unwed child into the world.  Because she was of a different race in circumstances just a little different, she is being praised.

I suspect, if she had opted for an abortion, she would be criticized by those on the far right who don’t even want an abortion to protect the life of the mother, and this was one of those circumstances.  Instead, she is just another heroic mother, giving life to a child who must be raised by someone else, an irresponsible teenage father who could not even be bothered marrying her, and the possibility that the child will be raised on welfare.  She could have opted to have a life of her own, but she had no one to help her understand that she had a future beyond breeding.

How many other young women are going to go down this path before we start teaching them that they are viable humans with self worth?  This is the saddest part of all.

Jenni Lake deliberately went out and got herself pregnant to have a baby before she died – even when she was told that the tumors were shrinking.   She deliberately cut off her life-saving treatment go have a baby.  Why was there no responsible adult to step in and help the child make decisions.  When a girl who is underage goes out and gets pregnant, just to have a baby, and is undergoing treatment for cancer – where are the courts?  Where is child services?

By praising her, other girls will think this is just wonderful.

It is not.

We are dealing with a tragic young women here.  It is quite obvious her mother was not a bit attentive to her, even when she had cancer.  I cannot imagine a mother so disinterested in their 16 year old daughter that she did not find alternatives to the possibility of sterility.  I am reminded of a woman I now who has a twenty-something daughter (L) who has battled ovarian cancer for several years.  If she had opted for a hysterectomy,  she would have been fine.  Instead, she opted for chemo in order to have a child later in life, even though there is a possibility that she will be infertile. ‘L’ did not opt to die, which is what Jenni Lake did.  She also did not go out and get pregnant.  Instead, her loving parents drove several hundred miles, packed her up, and brought her home, where they could care for here.  Even though ‘L’ is in her late twenties, her mother was right there beside her.

Contrast this to what we have learned about Jenni Lake.  Her parents were obviously not all that involved in her care, and they should have been.  If anyone had truly loved her, they would have forced medical issues, or demanded she be made a ward of the courts to receive proper treatment – which was working.

The drive for Jenni Lake to have a baby appears not to be about a self-sacrificing mother, but a seriously disturbed teenager who just wanted the unconditional love she was obviously not getting from her family.

Now – that is tragic.

 

 

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13 Comments

  • Tom Leith says:

    Saints are unnerving, aren’t they?

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    The poor child is not a saint, but someone who needed help. I guess I happen to believe that the Lord heals people. It is too bad she was not given a future.

    SJR

  • Tom Leith says:

    Hmmmm. How do you know she’s not a saint?

    I have a movie for you: Dancer in the Dark by the Danish film director Lars von Trier. It is particularly apropos this issue.

    http://www.amazon.com/Dancer-Dark-Bj%C3%B6rk/dp/B00003CXKS

    Or maybe you have NetFlix or something.

    Don’t read any spoilers.

    von Trier’s films unfold slowly and (being European) he does not use the standard Hollywood “make you forget you are watching a film” technique. His films tend towards “Fine Art” vs. “Commercial Art” or perhaps the difference between “Designer Boutique” vs. “Neiman’s” in the world of apparel. Note I do not make a value judgement here, I’m just trying to be descriptive. They’re always worth the price of admission. What is Selma’s vision? What about von Trier’s? What’s yours?

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    In that all of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior are ‘saints’, let us hope that she was. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read about the poor child, her family was nominally LDS and did not attend church. The great tragedy of this is the fact that I don’t think anyone gave a damn about her soul. Her story is horrific on so many levels.

    I gather you do realize that the current fad for girls this age is to get pregnant, not have an abortion, keep the baby, go on welfare, and end up as dismal parents. Her family didn’t even want the baby. The boy’s mother has taken him. Girls are opting not to have abortions. Not because of “life” but because their friends are not having them. Don’t ever read morality into a story like this. There is none. It is about a break-down of society

    I fear this tale has nothing to do with Christ. This is about a child who came from a home where she had very little attention from a parent, and like the girls around her, wanted a baby of her own, the way I wanted a new car at her age. It is epidemic here in the Southwest. The problem is so great, the high school in the town where I live had a day care with several dozen babies enrolled, to keep the girls in school.

    I would like to think this was about maternal devotion, etc. etc, but I’ve seen too many girls here in the same situation. They have no reality of life and death due to movies and video games. There is no grasp that life is precious and finite. This is about a girl wanting a baby because everyone else had one. At least this time, the boy’s family stepped in to help. From what I see, that is a rarity.

    SJR

  • Tom Leith says:

    No Christian will praise the girl for committing the sin of fornication, if that’s in fact what she did. But having become a mother she did the motherly thing and put her child’s well-being ahead of her own.

    Tragedy? Yes, of course. Still, she had not been so ruined by the circumstances of her life that the law carved by God on her heart was completely effaced. She didn’t start out a hero, no hero does. But it looks like she became a hero by practicing heroism, and we can hope that she has achieved her end: sainthood, union with God. Maybe not, but “No greater love hath a man than this…” I will not bet against it, LDS upbringing or no. I can’t know her motives. But one thing’s sure — she doesn’t see children as “snotty-nosed little brats”. No, she wasn’t that sick.

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    That’s a pile of crap. First, technically, fornication is not a sin. Adultery is. This is the problem with her action. It was NOT heroic. I will bet my toy poodle it was based on the fact that it was about a fad and not about being some pathetic heroic self-sacrificing mother. That’s also a pile of crap. If you look at the pictures of she and the boy “father”, this is nothing but a seriously disturbed child who did not receive the proper help to make her want to live.

    You do realize the Catholic Church considers indirect suicide a sin. The child chose indirect suicide.

    In fact, I’m right about the teen pregnancy rate where she lived. There is a serious problem in Pocatello with teen pregnancy and gangs. For this pathetic child, who was given no options in life, it was all about having a baby to play with, not about maternal love. That’s a pile of bull. Not every baby machine is about maternal love. Pocatello has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. This is about poor parenting, and a child who had no future, and a child with some serious problems, emotionally.

    Her parents never bothered taking her to St. Jude, or MD Anderson. That says something to me, that the didn’t give a damn, or they would have fought to save her. She was young enough to qualify for St. Jude. The whole story is tragic. I gather you talk a good game about peopling a planet that really doesn’t need that many more people. You wax poetic about a mother’s love, but this child obviously had a mother who didn’t care enough to fight for her life. That’s what a REAL mother does, everything possible to save their LIVING child. I always thought the living came before the unborn, but in this new barbaric anti-woman culture that the far right has created, women are nothing, but wombs, that’s it, no other value than producing babies.

    Sorry, I don’t want to hear your screwed-up religious take on things. I don’t want to be bothered having you condemn me because I’m not allowing your kind to abuse me. Forget it. I know religious abuse and harassment when I see it. Salvation is a miracle. It is remarkable as many people accept Christ into their lives, considering how vile Christians sometimes are.

    Also, her mother is milking the publicity for all it is worth. She is NOT EVEN RAISING THE BABY. The boy’s mother is. He is two years older than Jenni was. He was 18 at the time, she was 16. There are laws about that sort of thing. This is one sick story. From what I gather, reading another article, the maternal grandmother isn’t even bothering to visit with the baby. I read that the paternal grandmother, who is raising the child, has custody of it, said she would be glad to take the baby to visit the other grandmother, IF SHE WANTED TO SEE HIM!

    As to the morality issue:

    “...In fact to neglect the ordinary means for preserving life is equivalent to killing one’s self, but the same is not true with regard to extraordinary means. Thus theologians teach that one is not bound in order to preserve life to employ remedies which, considering one’s condition, are regarded as extraordinary and involving extraordinary expenditure; one is not obliged to undergo a very painful surgical operation, nor a considerable amputation, nor to go into exile in order to seek a more beneficial climate, etc. To use a comparison, the lessee of a house is bound to take care of it as becomes a good father of a family, to make use of the ordinary means for the preservation of the property, for instance, to extinguish a fire which he may easily extinguish, etc., but he is not bound to employ means considered extraordinary, such as to procure the latest novelties invented by science to prevent or extinguish fire.

    Application of principles

    The principles which have been outlined in the four propositions or divisions above given should serve for the solution of particular cases; however, the application may not always be equally easy, and thus a person may by an objectively unlawful act take his life and nevertheless consider it permissible and even an act of exalted virtue.

    It may be asked whether by performing or omitting a certain act a person may injure his health and shorten his life. To apply the foregoing principles: it is first of all clear (1st and 3rd propositions, A and C) that one may not have in view this hastening of death, but, this hypothesis aside, it may be said on the one hand that to expose oneself without sufficient reason to a considerable shortening of life constitutes a serious injury to the rights of the Creator; but on the other hand if the danger of death be not imminent, although it is to be feared that life may be shortened even by several years, it is not a grave but only a venial sin. This is the case with the drunkard who by his intemperance causes his premature death.

    Again it must be borne in mind that with the addition of a reasonable motive the thing may be entirely lawful and even an act of virtue; thus the workman does not sin by devoting himself to rough labor, and the saints performed a very meritorious and highly virtuous act when in order to overcome their passions they lacerated and tortured their flesh by penance and fasting and were thus the cause of their earlier death…”

    SJR

  • Tom Leith says:

    Wow. Do you actually read any of the text you copy & paste? And that fornication isn’t a sin thing is (technically) a real howler. I don’t even need the Popish Catechism:

    Galatians 5:19-21 — King James Version (KJV)

    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    Personally, I prefer the NRSV.

    SJR

  • Tom Leith says:

    OK — your preferred translation makes “…fornication is not a sin. Adultery is” even more a howler. Wow.

    Galatians 5:19-21 — The New Revised Standard Version

    Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    Do you know Christ? Do you have a relationship with him? If you did, you would understand that Christ forgives the sinner. In other words, because St.Augustine of Hippo was guilty of this list, he went to hell. Until you learn the difference between condemning by law and knowing Christ in your heart, you will never understand.. Once Pat Boone wrote that all of his life he lived in the House of the Lord, but it was years before he met the Master. You need to quit reading the law, and start following the Master.

    SJR

  • Tom Leith says:

    Hey, Pinky, you called the kid a slut, not me.

  • SJ Reidhead says:

    I still think she was. I’m sick of the lack of morality in our world. Like a friend of mine said, yesterday, the right has picked the wrong poster child with this one.

    SJR


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