Maria is still talking

Since the Boston Herald reported April 20 that a tax-payer funded website was encouraging abortions among teenagers, telling them that "getting an abortion is much easier than it sounds," many have called for the governor to shut down the site. As of today, the website is still up and Governor Deval Patrick is still supporting its content.

The website, MariaTalks.com, presents advice from a fictitious 18-year-old named Maria and her "friends" on issues such as sexuality, birth control, pregnancy and abortion. The language of the site is clearly aimed toward young teenagers ("Ok, I totally know that this information can sound pretty intimidating and overwhelming...").

While the Massachusetts Department of Health contends that the site presents medically accurate information, many feel it simply promotes promiscuous sexual activity among teenagers and trivializes abortion and its consequences, all under the guise of health education.

For example, "Maria" describes abortion in the following way: "An abortion is when the contents of the womb (uterus) are removed, so that the uterus goes back to how it was before a woman got pregnant." In the same paragraph it adds "Induced abortions are more common than you may think."

What is the message? No human life was present, no child, not even a fetus ... just "contents" that have to be removed from the uterus. And, by the way, many women do it, so no big deal.

Even more disturbingly for some, the website openly encourages young girls to circumvent their parents in seeking an abortion, saying, "Again, I know it sounds crazy, but just keep reading ... this really can be done and young women do this all the time here in Massachusetts." The site then goes on to describe how Planned Parenthood "will provide you with a free lawyer who will help you go to court and talk to a judge" to obtain an abortion without parents' knowledge.

The website has been denounced by a number of groups, including the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, a group of 63 state legislators and the bishops of Massachusetts for its trivialization of abortion.

Had this website been privately funded, it would have been bad enough; but its public funding and its backing by Gov. Patrick is an example of the current Massachusetts administration's lack of sensitivity toward a respectful public discourse on moral issues.

Are the governor and the Department of Health comfortable promoting sexual promiscuity and abortion among teenagers as a personal lifestyle choice? Aren't they aware that sexual activity at an early age is never without serious and long lasting psychological consequences? Don't they know that often times those young girls have been abused by older males and left to their own fate? Is this the best that our administration can offer to our youth?

Regarding sexual intercourse, the website says: "The right time is when you feel ready and safe." Is that the message our tax dollars should be promoting? As a society we have a duty to create safe and welcoming environments for our children. We strive to provide them with positive opportunities; we protect them from the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gangs, and all manner of self-destructive behaviors. As a society, we do not leave it up to young people to decide if drinking alcohol could be a valid choice. Why then have we become so lenient when the issue is sex, even when we know that the scars of sexual activity during teen age years can be as deep, or often deeper, than the ones other destructive behaviors cause?

Our youth need guidance and positive role models, not Maria's casual talk about sex and abortion. We Catholics have a responsibility to oppose actions that promote the destruction of the moral values of our children.

The Massachusetts Family Institute has published a website, www.StopMariaTalks.com, with more information and an easy way to sign a petition urging the governor to shut down MariaTalks.com. Please talk to your friends about this outrageous state funded initiative and let the governor know how you feel about it.

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