A strange story is emerging from the town of Gloucester, Massachusetts as a result of a Time magazine investigation into the presence of a high number of pregnancies at the town’s high school. Gloucester is one of those communities which exist on the fringe of our nation’s prosperity, not as economically devastated as some, but still not enjoying any benefits of the growing post industrial development of America. It is a community whose fishing industry has been damaged by many issues, and the town has slowly witnessed an economic slowdown. Like many such places in America the number of interesting social activities is limited to personal interactions between people.
Time magazine was intrigued by learning Gloucester’s North High school had 17 pregnancies in one year. Girls were coming to the school clinic all year anxiously awaiting results of pregnancy tests and several were obviously disappointed they had failed. It was finally discovered a group of girls had made a pregnancy pact-getting pregnant that is. Perhaps, they were influenced by the hit film Juno which depicts a young girl who gets pregnant but still has a wonderful time.
Several of the girls now have babies and are learning what all parents come to know, a baby howling at 3:00 a.m. is not a time for joy. The school Medical Director, Dr. Brian Orr, wants contraceptive advice provided students but the staunchly Catholic community is in no mood for such advice. Of course, if girls have entered into a pact to get pregnant then contraceptives are the last thing on their mind.
One can only wonder if the story has symbolic aspects. A depressed city in a depressed nation.