by Russell Shaw | Catholic World Report
"Is Traditional Marriage Toast?" That question recently caught my attention as the heading of an article in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard. The answer was either "very possibly" (a subhead attached to the piece) or "probably not" (an objective reading would suggest that). Take your pick.
Be not afraid. Marriage and family life won't vanish, given that they correspond to fundamental human interests and needs. But marriage and family are indeed in serious trouble in America. And many--most?--public policy solutions to this crisis are wrongheaded, to say the least.
Repeatedly operative here is an unarticulated value system that concerned Americans have a right to insist be brought to light and debated. Take the current dispute over whether to give very young teenagers unrestricted access to morning-after pills. Partisans on both sides of this argument evidently take for granted (and some perhaps even welcome) a degree of social breakdown that their preferred policy approaches would not just confirm but make worse.
After all, wouldn't sensible policy-makers go after the root of the problem--teenage sexual activity, that is? Foolish ones water the roots. Which, to change the metaphor, is like trying to fix a cracked teacup by banging on it with a hammer.
In April, a federal district judge held that the government should allow children of any age to buy so-called emergency contraceptives without a prescription. The Obama administration has ordered the Justice Department to appeal this ruling on the grounds that the judge exceeded his competence. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has reacted by setting 15 as the earliest age for over-the-counter purchases.