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Things don’t seem to be getting any easier for Heather Darling, the Republican candidate for Morris County Surrogate. After withstanding unusually harsh personal attacks from a GOP primary opponent, Darling is now being accused of urging struggling families to help make ends meet by selling their babies.
The impetus for this Jonathan Swift moment was a Darling appearance last month at a county NAACP event.
Morris County Democrats are pointing to a video of Darling that they say establishes her as a “baby broker” for low income families.
In the video sent out by Morris Dems, Darling talks about a struggling family with three kids and another on the way.
“The mortgage is behind. There’s holes in the roof,” she says.
Darling said she wants to help such financially-strapped families by linking them with a qualified adoption service.
Then she adds, “And adoption isn’t free, right. … There’s some money that comes with that. So now this family can fix the roof, get the mortgage current.”
The Democrats jumped on the video with a release asserting that Darling wants to help low-income families “sell their child to pay their bills.” The statement was distributed by the Morris County Democratic Committee, not by Michael Thompson, the party’s surrogate candidate.
The statement added, “Darling’s suggestion is not only immoral, but also flagrantly illegal and demonstrates her lack of understanding of the basic duties of a surrogate.” The Democrats also faulted Darling for bringing the matter up before the NAACP, inferring that it was tasteless to make such a suggestion before an organization “seeking the advancement of people of color.”
In fairness, I have heard Darling make roughly similar comments about adoption before Republican audiences during the primary campaign.
Still, there is much to unpack here.
Abortion was not mentioned in the Democrats’ release, nor did it come up in the distributed video. But we can not ignore it.
A staple in the nation’s continuing abortion debate is that those on the pro-life side – most Republicans – care little about the well-being of a child beyond wanting to mandate that no pregnancies be terminated.
Darling seems aware of that. So, she is offering an adoption alternative to those who want to explore it. Nothing she said in the video would be compulsory. It certainly would be up to families themselves if they want to consider putting a child up for adoption.
While the GOP candidate further explained her views in a statement, Democrats contend the more off-the-cuff video should carry more weight. There’s some truth to that. Candid public comments often are more revealing than a carefully prepared handout.
For what it is worth, Darling’s statement said she wants to increase adoption awareness, specifically saying that, “Unfortunately, not all expecting parents feel they are in the financial or lifestyle position to raise a child and they deserve to know all their options in order to make the best decision for both themselves and their unborn or young child.”
She added that she wants to work with the county bar association to enlist attorneys who would offer adoption legal services to low income families at “substantially reduced rates.”
One can argue about what’s more important – Darling’s public comments or the statement.
But from this vantage point, it seems safe to say that no matter who wins the race for surrogate, no Morris County family is going to be forced to sell a child to make a car payment. Glad, we got that straight.