Babies Having Babies: The Fallout Continues

1213900985The Gloucester baby boom story has been ugly from the get-go. Last week, Time magazine reported on its website that a group of teenage girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. The national firestorm was immediate.

Now the Gloucester debate isn’t focused solely on teenage sex. It’s also become a media issue.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Gloucester mayor Carolyn Kirk told reporters that high school principal Joesph Sullivan’s claim that the girls made a pact to get pregnant couldn’t be substantiated.

“He was foggy in his memory of how he heard about the information,” Kirk said. “When we pressed him for specifics, about who told him, when was he told, his memory failed.”

Which naturally brings the focus back to Time reporter Kathleen Kingsbury, whose story gives the impression that she at least tried to confirm the pregnancy pact with the students.

The girls who made the pregnancy pact — some of whom, according to Sullivan, reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives and plans for baby showers — declined to be interviewed. So did their parents.

Dan Kennedy rounds up the continued volleying between city officials, students, and media types.

Some of the young mothers have started commenting, and most are debunking the pact rumor. Lindsey Oliver, a Gloucester student who is five months along, appeared on Good Morning America yesterday with boyfriend Andrew Psalidas and dismissed the claim as GMA host Chris Cuomo happily cooed at her expanding belly. (Seriously, it felt more like watching a baby shower than an interview about such a controversial issue.)

Today, the Gloucester Daily Times has three pregnant students who also say they didn’t make a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

“Lots of people were talking about it, saying: ‘This girl’s pregnant. This other girl is pregnant,'” junior Kacia Lowe, 16, said yesterday. “But I did not know anyone who was part of a pact. I had heard a couple (of girls) decided to get together and get pregnant, but no one used names.”

This “did they or didn’t they” brouhaha is obscuring what is the most disturbing part of the story that nobody denies—many of these girls are happy to be pregnant. Before the Time story brought the Gloucester baby boom to national attention, the Globe quoted the school nurse as saying some girls reacted with glee when she told them they were with child.

What do we blame for the sudden spike of teenage pregnancies? Abstinence-only sex education? The lack of contraception available at the high school? Juno? Your humble blogger will attempt to add perspective to the Gloucester High School problem on NewsNight with Jim Braude. Catch it on NECN tonight at 8 p.m.