A Florida couple has been awarded $21 million in a wrongful birth lawsuit. Their first child was born with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome; a doctor failed to diagnose it. The couple had a second child. The basis of the lawsuit: had they known that they were carriers for the Smith-Lemli-Opitz gene (the disease is genetic and recessive), they would have tested their second child and aborted it.
There is something grotesque about parents who sue others over their child’s birth. These are not parents who state that they would have ceased having children altogether had they known they were both carriers; that merely expresses the natural desire to stop having children at some reasonable point in one’s life. This lawsuit, however, is about issues that happened after reproduction occurred.
Teen sex rates have stopped falling, and conservatives are to blame. Sexual activity amongst teenagers increased radically during the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1990s, the rates began to decline. Around 2001, they leveled off. The Washington Post noted that the end of the downward trend coincided with President Bush’s abstinence-education efforts.
Logically, this is nonsense:
- the theory presumes that the programmes had an immediate effect (i.e. that there was no time lag between Bush taking office and the implementation of nationwide abstinence programmes);
- ignores the fact that teenagers who had sex during the late 1990s would still be counted in the data for 2001 onwards (the questions are structured so that any teenager who has had sex with be counted as “sexually active”);
- reaches the conclusion that hearing liberals talk about sex makes teenagers not want to do it (presumably, that would be the fundamental difference between abstinence ed and sex ed; this is about sex, not pregnancy, rates); and
- ignores other cultural factors (i.e. the marketing of thongs to ten-year-olds).
Apropos of points 1 and 4:
A recent study of four separate abstinence programs, conducted for the Department of Health and Human Services by Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan firm, found no evidence that the programs delayed the start of sexual activity among teens, but Unruh and others said such programs need more time and wider use to counter pervasive messages encouraging teens to have sex.
A comparison is meaningless unless there is something to compare against. “[N]o evidence that the programs delayed the start of sexual activity” is compared against what? contraceptive education? What that stat really tells us that high school health programmes do not change the behaviour of teenagers. This should not be surprising: school programmes intended to combat obesity do not have long-term effects, either.
Congress has passed a bill, signed by President Bush, which will raise the federal minimum wage by $0.70 each year until 2009, when it will peak at $7.25/hour. Previous pachyderm complaints still stand.
One in three residents of Southeast coastal areas (defined as living within 20 miles of the coast) would not evacuate if ordered to do so. Last year, only 25% of respondents said they would ignore such orders.
In January of 2005, New Orleans had 454,863 residents. If 31% of them ignored evacuation orders, 141,000 would be left in the city. That is nearly 3,000 busloads of people. H0w is the federal government supposed to orchestrate an evacuation of that many people at the point of a gun?