Potential GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently criticized Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman for glamorizing out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
The day after the Oscars, Huckabee said: "Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-children wedlock."
With unmarried mothers delivering 41 percent of all newborns, Huckabee deserves credit for telling it like it is. And after years of teaching at the Lincoln Technical Academy (then the Lodi Adult School), I have witnessed over and over again the exact situation that Huckabee referred to.
Portman's meticulously groomed and glowing personality belies the truth behind the average unwed mother's plight. Hollywood is an alarming advocate for keeping the birth rate churning, all the while falsely portraying pregnancy as a glamorous adventure.
Because Hollywood's big names have a built-in platform for their various causes, they have the power of persuasion over many of their fans — especially younger ones.
A few weeks ago, I watched the Red Carpet ceremonies that preceded the 2011 Grammy Awards. The E Channel hosts, Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osborne, gushed endlessly about "baby bumps" and giddily quizzed the pregnant actresses about their pending maternity.
According to Hollywood insiders, "baby bumps" have replaced Hermes handbags and Louboutin heels as the essential accessory.
Kate Hudson, Jewel, Alicia Keys, Amy Adams and dozens more — all pregnant and gushing! Tell me, Giuliana, is there anyone out there who isn't pregnant?
Age isn't a factor in the stars' childbearing, either. Last year, Kelly Preston, John Travolta's 47-year-old wife, had her third child. And although he wasn't on the Red Carpet, septuagenerian Larry King fathered his seventh just a few years ago.
The baby boom has reached across thousands of miles to Australia, where 40-year-old Penny Lancaster delivered 66-year-old rock icon Rod Stewart's eighth child. That sounds like a bad choice to me, but maybe Stewart can get a song out of it.
The enlightened among us could, if the problem were not so urgent, dismiss it as more crazy Hollywood nonsense. But what about impressionable, fertile teenagers?
Even if their families don't get basic cable, teens are still exposed to the deceptive message. Here are some recent tabloid headlines screaming at the gullible: "Kim's In Love; 'I Want His Baby!'" and "Kendra: We're Having a Baby!"
To the uninitiated, the baby phenomena is deceptively alluring. Hollywood's mothers outfit their babies in Little Lark, the chic place to buy tots' T-shirts and body suits.
But teeming bank accounts don't guarantee well-adjusted children. Britney Spears, rumored to be pregnant with her third, will have to undergo a major lifestyle overhaul to give her 5- and 4-year-old sons a fighting chance as adults.
For the less financially fortunate, babies often represent a new start: a living, breathing opportunity to have and hold something that they can love and that will love them back. Since fathers are infrequently in the picture, rarely does it work out well.
We can't expect Hollywood to take a responsible position on overpopulation. But the problems it creates are real and irreversible.
As I look at today's world, I see millions of fathers and mothers but only a few sensible parents. Less bubbly blather about baby bumps would help everyone.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He is a Senior Writing Fellow at Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.