Friday, April 30, 2010

The Enabling Society Has Hit a New Low

Vivaldi, the great Venetian composer, known as the "Red Priest," did most of his work at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children.

Now, centuries later, almost every day and night, you can hear a local group play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" there.

If you walk around the side of the beautiful church facade, you can still find the opening in the wall where women who knew or feared that they could not care for their babies could leave the infant to be cared for.

This provision of a safe haven for babies in such dire circumstances has been around in most countries in the world since practically forever.

Now, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to revive this very practical but troubling tradition.

St. Paul's Hospital has created a "baby drop off."

A bassinet near the ER will be alarmed so that staff will be immediately alerted if someone has left a baby there.

The mother will not be subject to arrest.

This is in many ways a reasonable response to an ugly reality.

But it is at the same time deeply disturbing.

First, I found myself shuddering as I listened to some young enthusiastic policeman saying repeatedly on the radio yesterday that this initiative would make things "easier" for the woman in trouble.

Is that our job?

To make things "easier" for people to not care for their own babies?

Second and finally...

I am sitting here today at the age of 67 writing this piece because that many years ago, my mother made a courageous choice and lived up to its challenges.

My mother chose to be a single parent and to raise her child.

She did this in 1942 and in the milieu of an orthodox Old World Jewish family.

She passed on to me, among other things, life, food and shelter, endless curiosity, humour, and a deep sense of social justice.

Not much was "easier" for her.

But here we are, having this conversation.

Maybe as we continue on this path of accommodation, we will soon be providing a place to drop off your baby and right there a place to safely inject some free heroin.


Evil Eye said...

A very sad comment on BC, its Social Services and the Minister in charge.

More and more Campbell and his sleazy crew of malodorous compatriots, seem to lead the pack to the bottom wrung of humanity.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how stories like this can hit a raw nerve. My own mother was almost 40 when she became pregnant with me and already had teenage children at that time. My father was very upset that she was pregnant but, while not Catholic, felt abortion was a mortal sin.

I'm not religious and I'm pro choice, however, 'there but for the grace of God go I.'

Dave C. said...


Thanks for sharing that tribute to a great mom. You're right about the easy path not usually being a character-builder. But if St. Paul's decision saves one infant from a dumpster, I'd say it was the right thing to do. At least then that child would have a chance of being raised by a loving and competent parent.


harriet hedgehog said...

Right on the button David. I am very fed up with people not taking responsibility for their children. I am still stunned at how my Godson's parents neglected to take proper care in his upbringing and provide for his education. As older parents, his Father was 63yo at his birth, they surely must have thought about this? Does Govt have to step in and put part of the pension's of older parents into an RESP because they are too self-centered to do it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with DC -- I could care less about making life easier for mothers who have babies they don't want, I am hopeful that this will save a baby, even one baby, from being dumped in a garbage can. Women will continue to have babies they don't want and can't care for -- we need to be realistic about this and help save these innocent babies from an horrific end. And on a personal note, my mom was also a single mother.


Anonymous said...

I have no idea what type of situation a woman might find herself in to bring a baby to term and feel the need to abandon the infant.

I do know that some of the comments are extremely judgmental and hateful towards a woman who has a baby in a crisis situation and would make use of this service at St. Pauls so that the infant doesn't end up in a dumpster.

David, how you can compare this to the safe injection site is completely beyond me. A drug addict needs treatment and shouldn't be encouraged to continue their habit.

A baby is a separate, very, very vulnerable entity. To harp about the St. Pauls enabling a woman in a crisis situation where she would discard her baby like trash in a dumpster is a far cry form harping about safe injection sites.

The drug user is hurting him/herself. The new mother in crisis can hurt/kill an innocent baby.