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Utah Woman Who Killed Six Babies Struggled with Meth Addiction

Megan Huntsman is Viewed as a Monster But Yet Same Callous Society Accepts Abortion

The story of a Utah mother who killed six of her newborn babies over a decade outraged the world. After killing each of the infants, Megan Huntsman kept the bodies of the infants in her garage, where one was discovered by her ex-husband, leading to the investigation and her arrest.

USA Today reported a possible cause for the tragedy—that Huntsman was addicted to methamphetamine and couldn’t cope with caring for the children.

Addictions combined with postpartum issues and financial stressors form a tragic ‘perfect storm’ that leads to desperate behaviors.

I won’t speculate the exact reason Ms. Huntsman killed her babies but we know that meth addiction causes significant levels of depression and anxiety, lowers frustration tolerance, increases agitation levels and interferes with decision making and problem solving. Add in stimulant-induced decreased appetite, which leads to the brain not getting enough nutrition, and stimulant interference with sleep, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, we often see in the news that those struggling with addictions will do almost anything, regardless of morals or values, to save themselves and preserve their addiction.”

We need to have compassion for Ms. Huntsman, get her treatment while also holding her accountable for her actions. But while society views Huntsman as a monster, I don’t understand the striking contrast between this view and the way society views the aborting of a baby still in the womb.

It is tragic when anyone kills a fellow human being. Even more overwhelming is when a young child’s life is prematurely ended. We grieve with and extend our prayers to all those affected. While we can’t make light of, or in any way excuse Ms. Huntsman’s horrific behavior, when we compare it to how many in society accept or even condone abortion, we realize how callous, de-sensitized, or distorted our values have become in certain areas.

In this situation, a woman killed her babies soon after they left her womb because of her misguided perception that doing so would somehow improve her own life. Now, she is being viewed as a monster. But when we learn of women who abort their babies while they are still in the womb, thinking that this is the only option for improving their own lives, they are looked upon in a neutral or even positive way. Yet, it’s a distorted me-centered lens that drives both behaviors. And both behaviors are wrong.

Another way to view Megan Huntsman’s situation is to see her as an overwhelmed mother, with many financial stressors, who was dealing with her own depression and substance abuse.

Megan Huntsman obviously had some extenuating circumstances and a medical/psychiatric illness that, while not excusing her behavior, shows the fertile ground for her aberrant actions. We often have pity on those who are ill or who are experiencing undue duress. Even so, Ms. Huntsman is looked upon as a monster while a woman with no illness who chooses to abort, kill, their child is looked upon as independent and even heroic, although the final act, killing their baby, is the same.

The New York Times gave some insight into Huntsman’s disturbing life. “Her marriage decayed into substance abuse and violence, she told people close to her. Her ailing father’s suicide pitched her into despair and heavy drinking. Illness ravaged her family. She lost her job at a supermarket bakery and spent recent days alone at her boyfriend’s trailer home,” the newspaper reported.

This subtle decay of absolutes into a cesspool of relativism bleeds into our society, slowly turning us one degree at a time from what is psychologically and spiritually right and what God teaches us toward a corrupted and complete opposite attitude and frame of reference. This shift in worldview or, more accurately, this dirtying and distorting of our lenses to block the truth, has a damaging effect on our decision-making process, allowing for an emotional and knee-jerk ‘my-kingdom-come-my-will-be-done’ mentality.

Ultimately, this mindset and attitude are the direct opposite of the two greatest commandments—to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves—where loving others and ourselves displays a healthy, nurturing love rather than a narcissistic or indulging love.

In all, the bodies of seven full-term babies—five girls and two boys—were found in the Huntsman home. DNA testing showed that Huntsman’s estranged husband, Darren West, fathered all seven babies. West was released from federal prison in January after serving eight years for having meth-making chemicals. Huntsman, who was charged with six counts of murder because authorities believe the seventh baby was stillborn, will appear in court next week.

Drug abuse, mental illness and the emotional and psychological effects of traumatic life events may seem overwhelming for those who have a friend or loved one struggling with addiction, but help is available. The most effective help for long-term recovery is the bio-psycho-spiritual approach using biblically based, Christ-centered principles combined with sound medical and psychological science, so those being treated do not return to the addiction lifestyle.

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb