Posted by: bridget | 23 July 2007

Monday Musings

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?

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Responses

  1. “There is something grotesque about parents who sue others over their child’s birth.”

    Although it seemingly makes sense if you look at it from a totally detached position, it is just plain ghoulish.

  2. Sickening. I’ll have a post later this week on abortion and Down syndrome. If these nice parents would just get counsel from Peter Singer, they’d realize they still have a solution to their problem. After all, if it was OK to kill a few months ago, why not now?

    Re. school programs – it is the hubris of the politicians to think that only things they do impact people’s decisions.

  3. “reaches the conclusion that hearing liberals talk about sex makes teenagers not want to do it”

    Maybe you are on to something there. Generally speaking hearing liberals talk about doing anything makes me not want to do it.

  4. Ghoulish and sickening indeed. I cringe at the thought of Neil’s upcoming post — but it needs to be exposed.

  5. Re: suing for wrongful birth and Neils future post, a couple days ago I started studying the Baby Doe cases of when parents and physicians let their born children die for lack of life saving medical treatment and operations simply because they are disabled. It goes beyond disgusting and grotesque. I don’t know if there are any words that can describe it.

  6. TT: it makes sense to sue over wrongful conception – i.e. a doctor botched a vascetomy, or the parents, had they known that they were both carriers for a horrible genetic disease, would have chosen to not have more kids. I don’t think that “I would have aborted” is really sensible. (After all, they could have gotten an amniocentesis themselves….)

    Neil – I can’t wait to see it.

  7. Sunday School Teacher –
    M
    aybe that’s the solution to many of our problems – drug use, crime, teenage pregnancy…..

    Tammi-

    Ditto that.

    Tieki Rae –

    That’s horrible. More moral schizophrenia for you: a lot of extreme preemies (less than a pound) have health and mental problems down the road. (It ranges from mild issues in an otherwise bright kid to things which are totally disabling.)So if the kid is not genetically flawed, we do everything possible to get her to survive, even though she may have developmental problems. If there are genetic issues, though, we let them die. Hum, who does this sound like? Takers?

  8. Bridget…..”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.”

    Next Stop Lauderdale complaints still stand too! …. steve

  9. (Laughing) Good to know. If you would like, drop a link so anyone reading can see your complaints, too. :)

  10. SUING over birth. I hope those parents gave their children to someone else to raise. That is just horrid.

  11. SUING over birth. I hope those parents gave their children to someone else to raise. That is just horrid.

    That would be nice – somehow, I doubt that these parents are kind enough to give their kids to someone who would want to raise them anyway.

    I mean, I know it’s expensive, but what next? Suing because your kid might not be that smart and can’t get a college scholarship? When will people learn that people are not responsible for the various permutations of humanity?

  12. Random thought: there is often a duty to mitigate damages. Would that include giving your child up for adoption? After all, if you lack an emotional connection at the sixth month of pregnancy, enough to abort, why not give up your child at birth? That would certainly reduce your child-rearing expenses.

    (As a matter of policy, I would not mind requiring people to do that before suing under the “I wish I could have aborted my child” theory.)


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