Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”

As I thought it might, the Ethics Quiz about “The Ethicist’s” position that a nurse practitioner was obligated to help an unemployed, unmarried, 16-year-old high school drop-out get pregnant provoked a lot of discussion. Here is how the poll results on the issue are running:

And here is Arthur in Maine’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”:

Yikes. I know you hold Appiah in high regard, and your previous posts about his work make clear why. But I agree with you – he’s very much in the wrong on this one.

Many years ago, I worked in a group home for adjudicated teenagers. We had several 15 and 16 year old girls who, like the girl in question, actually wanted to become pregnant (thank God none of them managed to achieve this goal on our watch).

I recognize that my sample size is small enough that this is nothing more than anecdotal – but as far as I’m concerned, well-adjusted 16-year-old girls may adore babies and kids but understand that now’s not the time. To desire pregnancy at that age requires one or more underlying pathologies.

Our clients had all manner of issues, but in the case of these girls, there was a misplaced ideation that the nurturing and care they were denied in their own lives could be re-claimed if directed towards a baby. In other words, these kids were hoping to amend their own loss by showering attention and love on their own kids – to give someone else what they, themselves, weren’t offered.

That’s a rather romantic idea, and one could argue that the desire is, in a sense, a rather sweet way to attempt to cure a terribly cruel factor in their own lives. Certainly, it’s better than stalking their own mothers and taking physical revenge.

But it’s irrational. It should come as no surprise that among other things, these girls were poor students who lacked many of the skills required of normal everyday life – even for well-functioning teenagers. One was a cutter. Another had substance abuse issues. And so on.

Appiah is completely wrong here. Helping the girl get pregnant is a nearly certain way to destroy at least two lives.

9 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Nurse Practitioner’s Dilemma”

  1. It was the last year I was teaching 7th and 8th graders. I heard there was a contest between several 8th grade girls. I found out their names and tried to talk to as many of them as I could. I was unsuccessful in getting a single girl to not participate. Their reasons were exactly the same. They wanted to win. Years latter I ran into one of the young ladies who participated and was one of the winners. She said she wished she had listened. Her life was difficult. She didn’t graduate from high school, she couldn’t find a decent well paying job, even though she loved that little one. The contest was the first one pregnant was the winner. They all won technically. Yet they will always be disadvantaged. Most will live at the poverty level, most didn’t get their high school diploma, few received their GED. There common reason for wanting to win-they wanted someone to love them. Shame on anyone who would help an underage (under 18) female get pregnant. It is one of my biggest regrets that I was unable to influence any of them.

  2. These are words from Lois Anderson from Oregon Right to Life.

    “There were comments about abortion staying legal because of pregnancies that were a result of rape, or because a child might be abused or end up in foster care. Those comments were particularly hurtful to those who survived those situations, implying that their lives we’re less than valuable.”

    I’m sorry but there are completely certifiable 25 year olds, 35 year olds, and even 45 year olds who “should not” have kids but do. What’s next, a screening for those over eighteen for specific traits before they can become parents?

    To me this type of mentality is as supremacist as any abortion or eugenics proponent. I find it amusing that we pearl clutch over an admititedly not too smart teen wanting to have a kid, yet there is radio silence regarding 16 year olds who are able, without needing parental consent, to be sterilized because of a perceived gender-based identity.

    Yeah, the “wrong people” have babies and yes it’s a burden. So should we let government and the medical establishment decide who inconveniences society with their babies? Or do we step up?

    Do we stop blaming others for being stupid and instead foster better schools that aren’t leftist propaganda factories, encourage resilience rather than victimhood in minorities, and mentor teens who would benefit from great leaders in business, ethics, and other industries?

    It’s not up to the government, doctors, or anyone else to decide whose life matters and whose doesn’t. Do I like sixteen years olds having kids for stupid selfish reasons? No. Nor do I like elites deciding who lives and dies or who gets to be a parent and who doesn’t. Medical overreach is a serious problem. It’s obvious that attitudes like the one in this post, is part of the reason why.

    • But 1) Nobody is advocating preventing 16 year old poor fools whose kids will immediately become charges to the state from getting pregnant; the issue was whether an adult in a position to do so should try to dissuade her, or, if she refuses, not enable her. 2) Which 25, 35 and 45 year olds shouldn’t get pregnant is a subjective judgement. Is there any objective position that a 16 year old high school dropout with no job, no skills, no assets and unmarried IS acting responsibly by getting pregnant? I’d love to hear it.

    • A sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant is at a serious disadvantage compared to her peers. Even those girls who are sexually active and use a reliable form of birth control are much better off as far as career choices and are not stuck with raising some nucklehead’s child alone.

    • “encourage resilience rather than victimhood in minorities”

      I remember arguing with a couple people on this site a few years back about that. I was accused of having a “racist” attitude, and in their defense, probably because I wasn’t able to articulate my position very well due to a medical issue. I wasn’t arguing that victimhoods of sorts didn’t exist, but that endlessly belaboring the issue did more harm than good. What better way to poison an impressionable young mind into paralysis than by telling him or her that the very society they were born into is rigged to defeat them? All the giants that humanity has spawned used adversity as a tool for honing incredible strength.

    • I’m not clear on this, Q. Are you saying a medical professional should assist this young lady as she would any other patient and the medical profession has absolutely no right to get involved in this young lady’s decision?

  3. Arthur, great comment. I sympathize with your struggles at the group home. At times I work on a coed child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric ward where we treat children age five to seventeen. Keeping the adolescent he’s from the she’s is a major job. The reason many are in the hospital is almost total lack of impulse control and that coupled with raging hormones makes for an interesting experience.

    • Thanks, John. Fortunately, our client-to-staff ratio was pretty good so we could keep a close eye on that dynamic. More interestingly, though we had both boys and girls in residence they didn’t hook up with each other. A new kid might arrive and start making goo-goo eyes at one of the kids who’d been there a while, but it didn’t take the new arrivals much time for them to start recognizing that the object of their desires wasn’t exactly a catch. A kid who picks his or her nose while watching TV is still a kid who picks his or her nose while watching TV, regardless of how dreamy the rest of the package might have originally appeared.

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