Children suffer mercilessly as America no longer honors their needs—nor even their lives. Laws, policies and institutional support that would safeguard their birth, well-being, safety, development, and education no longer matter to leaders and adults entrusted with their care. Legislators, judges and courts, legal and mental health professionals and organizations, houses of worship, citizens’ groups, and our business community, all have been unable to join together to assure mercy for our littlest members of America.
The accelerated decline of marriage and its extraordinary ramifications for 92 million spouses, their children, families, and our homeland these past four decades, directly coincides with dissolution of safeguards for children and the common good that are woven in the contractual “I do” of man and woman as they marry. Historical and scientific evidence abounds to support the common sense conclusion that this relationship is more causation than coincidence.
Marriage has become so unsafe that 54% of American teens now grow up in broken homes, that 53% of babies born to women aged thirty and younger are out-of-wedlock, which dooms 90% of them to single parent and broken childhoods, that 44% of all American births are unwed and growing 1% annually, that the marriage rate has plummeted 54% since the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act of 1970 (official name for No Fault Divorce) and 35% more since 1990. In Motown, the nation’s poorest, most violent Metropolis, Detroit shrank from 1.5 million people to 700,000 after the Michigan legislature scrubbed 125 years of marriage and child safeguards when it passed No Fault Divorce in 1971. Unwed births soared as marriages plummeted. Today, 80% of children born in Detroit are out-of-wedlock, up from 5% in 1960.
America suffers an historic pandemic that dwarfs the human destruction of bubonic plague, the 1918 world-wide, H1N1 influenza epidemic, swine flu, small pox, polio, meningitis, HIV and the Holocaust. The penicillin cure for this plague requires merely that we ask as Jesus advises in Mt 7:7, that our legal guardians craft the model legislative fix that will safeguard both our children and our nation’s future.
One of the most remarkable recent developments in the public square garnered no attention from the media. Few heard anything about the 150 leaders representing Christianity’s denominations and divisions who convened in Manhattan to discuss pressing concerns about the disturbing direction our nation has taken. They distilled their pooled angst into three values worthy of agreement: the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and the dignity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. At a Washington DC press conference November 20, 2009, these historic leaders announced their Manhattan Declaration (www.manhattandeclcaration.org). Swiftly, 525,000 signatures gathered from adherents of its triad of core values, including signatures of major Christian religious leaders across America. The document declares timeless Judeo-Christian values of decency founded in natural law. One could imagine any adherent of truth embracing these three declarations, in some way, whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or Sikh—whether an American religious leader or just a believer in the US Constitution.
Are the Declaration’s founders, religious leaders, academic, political and professional signers, prepared to ask, if not importune, the 525,000 signers to join together to ask the official designers of the No Fault Divorce legal paradigm, the Uniform Law Commission (nccusl.org), to acknowledge their error and its historic human devastation by agreeing to fix the fundamental flaws of its No Fault Divorce legal design?
Facilitating rapid introduction and passage of the model fix to the 50 state legislatures to redress this shameful mockery of legal justice and its promotion of child abuse and neglect would be a core component of the asking. The evidence that the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act of 1970, No Fault Divorce, violates Article I Section 10 & 5th, 7th, 9, & 14th Amendments of the US Constitution is obvious by now, if it were somehow less so then. Evident too, is the scientific and historic data of the devastating ruination America and our citizens have experienced as the foul fruit of the Uniform Law Commission’s model marriage and divorce law these past four decades.
A dead man can not escape the contractual requirements of an economy car lease without presenting his case in court and honoring the other party by paying up as required. Yet, our legislators, judges, and legal community appear to have agreed in advance that the marriage contract is the only contract not entitled to legal protection. Spouses who sue their marriage partners under No Fault Divorce earn guaranteed rewards for violating their vows and contracts from economic entitlements encoded in our social security welfare statutes. Child support now means paying or obtaining such benefits rather than mom and dad jointly parenting children born to their marriage.
State and federal police powers fully safeguard these entitlements and incentives, and politicians routinely trumpet them to prove their marriage and family values as they promise to protect America’s children and families. How is it that such a patently unconstitutional law, which renders so much destruction to life, spousal and family relationships, marital estate, religious and other civil liberties, and to the integrity of every American institution, could endure for forty years without an authentic challenge?
This is so much like the pandemic of puerperal fever killing one-third of mothers in the US and Europe in the 1840’s when birthing moved from home to hospital. Healthcare professionals spread the deadly disease as they delivered the babies of defenseless moms. In nations an ocean apart, two law school drop-outs, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, father of the famous same-named Supreme Court Justice and later Dean of the Harvard Medical School, and Hungarian obstetrician, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis in Vienna, each independently discovered that simple hand-washing would reduce the death rate nearly thirty-fold to only 1-2%. They advocated for a simple change in daily hand-washing practice.
The medical community in Europe and the US refused to implement the inexpensive, life-saving measure and persecuted both physicians for suggesting such a change. Dr. Holmes ultimately traded his Harvard stethoscope for the academic poet’s pen. Dr. Semmelweis was driven from Vienna and forced to relocate his practice 135 miles away in another nation. His persistent advocacy for hand-washing prompted intense reprisals. His wife was persuaded to commit him to a psychiatric ward where he was brutally beaten by hospital attendants and died of infected wounds two weeks later at age 47. Eighty years passed following Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes’ first published paper on hand-washing’s life-saving benefits, and Dr. Semmelweis’ heroic efforts to defend life, before their recommendations would become standard medical practice on both sides of the Atlantic.
Is it possible that one fruit of the Manhattan Declaration could be reversal of the egregious legal injustice, institutional indifference, and political tyranny of our 50 United States, particularly for children, which arise daily in the uniform violations of these three natural law declarations for life, religious civil liberty, and true marriage? Even the addition of simple, ministerial Responsible Spouse Guidelines[i] to the current No Fault Divorce statutory scheme would initiate a joyous, fresh spring of safety, justice, mercy and common sense for children and their parents. Such a development would substantively help to reverse our nation’s downward moral and economic spiral.
Is now not a propitious time to give mercy to our children—poor, middle class, and rich—whose experience of systemic suffering, broken and tortured family lives, neglected safety, well-being, development and education, leads the world’s nations in the wanton abuse of children?
Copyright ©2012 Michael T. Ross, MD
Michael T. Ross, MD
152 Randall Drive
Troy, MI 48085
Email: [email protected]
Cell: 248 561-7272
[i] Grignol, R. and Ross, M., Broken Family Law Guidelines and Fixes, FCS, Vol. 34, No. 2, Summer 2011.