Location: United States

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Tragedy, A Lack of Leadership

The New York Times posted a front-page story yesterday that told the story of why women sometimes seek abortions. More to the point, it wrote about how they deal with the mental and spiritual backwash that comes from making that decision. If they wanted a complete story, however, they didn't need to run all the way to Arkansas. They could have just taken a trip across the Hudson River and watched one of the most gruesome stories of twisted secrecy and destruction known to man unfold.

It started when West New York resident Martina Russo heard an infant's cries echoing up an air shaft outside her bathroom window. A newborn infant was discovered at the bottom of the shaft, despite New Jersey's safe haven laws that allow a mother to give up her baby legally. The baby was traced to Lucila Ventura - whose own mother says she was unaware that her daughter was even pregnant..

Let's set aside the fact that the baby was carried full term and weighed well over seven pounds when it was thrown to what was intended to be its death. There is no way a parent cannot notice their daughter is that far advanced in a pregnancy. But, there was, it turns out, a lot more going on in the Ventura household that a mother would want to turn a blind eye on.

First, it was discovered that this was not the first time Lucila had thrown her own child down the air shaft to die. Then the reason for the young girl's actions came to light - she was ashamed of carrying her father's child. The final straw in this sad and tragic tale came from those who knew the family - and weren't surprised at the full story.

But the full story is that after serving jail time both father and daughter/sex-slave will be deported back to El Salvador.

I suppose the law takes the view that what happens in El Salvador stays in El Salvador.

I can't excuses Lucila's actions - she brought two lives into the world for the sole purpose of snuffing them. My heart does break for her, though. I also refuse to stick my head in the sand so deeply as to think that, in a metropolitan area with several million people living here, she is the only one to face this situation or to find this "solution". This is why we need both a legally defended right to medical privacy and universal medical care. It is highly possible that access to a doctor would not have changed anything. But, it may have saved a whole lot of suffering and one very cruel death. It may have brought this horrible situation to light before a second murder was attempted. Free access to birth control might have prevented a great deal of the story as well.

The father was a willing accomplice. He knew what he was doing and he knew his daughter was pregnant - twice. Anyone with the intelligence of an eight year old knows that baby's don't disappear. He knew what happened - and it's highly likely that he was a willing accomplice, if not the "mastermind". My opinion is that this is exactly the type of case for which the death penalty was reserved.

As for Lucila's mother - it is possible that she knew absolutely nothing about what happened. If I've learned nothing more about the human psyche I've learned that we have an incredible capacity for denial. It is difficult for me to absolve her entirely of any responsibility. If Lucila's friends suspected something was wrong, her mother should have as well.

It's easy to sit in Washington and deal with abstracts about "rights" and "Constitutional obligations". The fact of the matter is that civilization resorted to government to address real world problems encountered by real people. There is no way to construe what happened in West New York this last week without identifying several problems. These problems have real solutions - at least some do. However, you won't hear about them during the confirmation hearings or during the plans for spending even more billions without raising revenue. In fact, you won't hear about them at all from our national leadership.

Which begs the question: exactly WHY are THESE PEOPLE running our country, when they are as guilty of denial as Lucila's mother?


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