June 21, 2007

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Publisher's Note: Kid coddlers
By Jody Reese

Sometimes I feel we live in a nation of kid coddlers with our play dates and our adult children still living at home.

Last week a controversy involving Planned Parenthood arose in Manchester. The local YMCA brought a group of seventh and eighth grade students to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Pennachuck Street as part of a tour of social service groups in the city. That clinic is a frequent target of anti-abortion protesters and that day was no different. The students not only got a lesson in what services are offered at the clinic (not abortion), but also a civics lesson in civil protest, one of the core freedoms our nation offers.

Unfortunately, some in the community felt that these kids should not have been exposed to the protesters or Planned Parenthood. Others — including some of the parents — felt there were not sufficiently warned that their kids would be going to a Planned Parenthood clinic. The reasoning being that Planned Parenthood by its very nature is controversial. The YMCA official that was responsible for the trip resigned.

While it’s true that many people feel that Planned Parenthood’s advocacy of abortion taints the entire organization, it’s also true that it is one of the few places a poor woman in Manchester can go for routine medical care. A tour of social services offered in Manchester excluding Planned Parenthood would not be a full representation of what is available and I think excluding that would defeat the point of the tour. So what’s the big issue here?

It’s that many wrongly feel that seventh and eighth graders shouldn’t have been exposed to the abortion debate. It wasn’t appropriate.

That where the coddling comes in. It’s hard to let go, but if we don’t our kids will never be able to deal with the hardships life will throw at all of them. Seventh and eighth graders are less than five years away from voting for the first time. Most middle school curriculum includes a heavy dose of our history and the constitution. What is more central to the debates over constitution today, than the abortion debate. We tell these kids that the constitution is still living document, but then refuse to expose them to one of its more controversial aspects — the right to privacy, a concept so living its not even mention in the constitution.

Our culture has gotten so kid-coddled that some companies are now human resource people to deal with the angry parents of their employees. Pro-choice, anti-abortion — we should all agree that this debate is an important one and that if your kid is old enough to learn about the death penalty or slavery, they’re old enough to learn about the abortion debate.

One final note, if you don’t like it that Planned Parenthood offers medical care to women, then start your own clinic that doesn’t offer abortion as a choice — now that’s a choice that almost everyone could support.