Month Archives: December 2012

A Royal Baby or a Royal Fetus?

by Family Research Council

December 6, 2012

I got up at 4 AM to watch the royal wedding last spring. I own a replica of Princess Diana’s, and now Duchess Catherine’s, engagement ring. Two weeks ago, I happily watched a documentary on Will and Kate that I’m pretty sure repeated no more than five cuts of footage for something like two hours. When I found out the Royal Couple was expecting a baby this week, I was so excited that you’d have thought Duchess Catherine was my best friend and had called to tell me personally.

I immediately turned to Twitter, where there were about five trending topics on the matter. I gleefully joined the throng tweeting things like “ROYAL BABYYYYYY!!!! I hope ABC covers the first sonogram!!”

The irony of the world’s (appropriate) joy didn’t strike me until later.

Archbishop Cranmer” addresses the tension between the humanness of Duchess Catherine’s unborn child we acknowledge by our happiness (and use of the word “baby”) and our reproductive health elite’s insistence that, especially at such an early stage, the child is not a person or a baby:

His Grace would like to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement that they are expecting their first baby. Girl or boy, he or she is destined to ascend the Throne and reign over the United Kingdom (should it remain united) and the Dominions overseas.

But His Grace is puzzled.

Everywhere he turns he reads about a Royal baby. Even The Guardian talks of the couple ‘expecting their first child’, despite the Duchess being in the ‘very early stages’ of pregnancy. We are told that the couple ‘are to be parents’, and that this ‘will be the Queen’s third great-grandchild’, and ‘a first grandchild for Prince Charles’.

And the child’s birthright is acknowledged: yes, he or she is ‘destined to wear the crown one day’; he or she ‘will become third in line to the throne’, which the Prime Minister described it as ‘absolutely wonderful news’. Even Ed Miliband tweeted: ‘Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.’

[… ]Baby? Destiny? Parents? Great-grandchild? School? Even the Twitter hashtag is #RoyalBaby.

Surely such ‘pro-choice’ newspapers and journals (and people) should be talking about a bunch of pluripotent stem cells, an embryo or a foetus? For reports suggest that the Duchess is still in her first trimester, so this is not yet a baby; and certainly nothing with any kind of destiny. At this stage, surely, it is a non-person, just like the other 201,931 non-persons who last year were evacuated from wombs in England, Scotland and Wales.

Or are royal foetuses endowed with full humanity from the point of conception?

Downgrading American Fertility

by Family Research Council

December 5, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in theU.S.from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. TheU.S.birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957.

Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S.population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23% (emphasis added).

The article goes on to note that the United States has seen a slowdown in Mexican immigration, and that, though immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the total population, they comprise a relatively large share of total number of children born, because immigrant women are more likely to be of childbearing age.

The authors also note that dips in the American economy are accompanied by dips in the birthrate, and as the economy begins to recover, so does the birthrate. However, if our economy is to sustain itself and grow, and “if a society is to continue, stable fertile marriage is necessary,” as Henry Potrykus and Patrick Fagan note in the Marriage and Religion Research Institute publication Marriage, Contraception and The Future of Western Peoples.

Ross Douthat writes of the drop in the birth rate:

The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.

Florida: Family Planning Vs. Family Belonging

by Sharon Barrett

December 4, 2012

As MARRI intern Lindsay Smith notes in her recent post, “The State of a Woman’s Union,” family structure and religious involvement are strong predictors of a teen’s sexual activity. Growing up in a stable married household decreases a young woman’s likelihood of having either an abortion or an out-of-wedlock birth. Lindsay continues,

Combining regular worship attendance with an always-intact family bolsters these effects. As seen in diagrams here, here and here, MARRI research verifies that teens attending weekly worship with an always-intact family are least likely to sexually debut as a teen or have a premarital pregnancy.

Why is this important? The state of Florida is surveying young women’s sexual lifestyles to help design state family planning services, including pamphlets and counseling.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Sunday that the Department of Health sent surveys to 4,100 women between 18 and 24, giving participants a CVS gift card.

Officials say the survey will help them understand women’s need for and approach to family-planning services.

So far, 782 surveys have been returned. The survey, which is voluntary, contains questions like the following:

-How old were you when you first had sex? The last time you had sex with a man, did you do anything to keep from getting pregnant? If not, why not?

-Has a sexual partner ever “told you he would have a baby with someone else if you didn’t get pregnant?”

-Are you depressed? Have you ever been physically abused? What’s your religion? Do you smoke? How much do you weigh?

Some women who received the survey (which is voluntary) in the mail were offended by the questions, finding them “offensive and invasive.” But what Florida’s Department of Health is really looking for, according to state Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, is insight into why women in Florida choose not to use birth control, because the state “has one of the lowest rates of contraceptive use among women of child-bearing age.”

A more important question than why Florida’s young women are not using contraceptives is why they are sexually active. Rather than survey their sexual experiences, we should ask about family background. In MARRI’s Second Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection, Florida ranks eleventh from the bottom among all states in measures of family belonging (Washington, D.C., ranks lowest, while Minnesota has the highest family belonging index).Twenty-one % of children live in poverty, and 9.9% of births are to unmarried teenagers. According to MARRI researchers:

Family belonging and child poverty are significantly, inversely related: States with high Index values have relatively low child poverty rates, and vice versa.

Also, there is a significant, inverse relationship between family belonging and the incidence of births to unmarried teenagers.

The state of Florida would be better served by a survey of the reasons young women have unmarried sex, not the reasons they don’t use birth control – like the surveys MARRI has already gathered on its website. The best support for Florida’s young women is not family planning, but family belonging.

Important Article on the College Debt Scene & Is the Bubble Exploding

by Chris Gacek

December 3, 2012

Recently released statistics by the Federal Reserve are causing some to wonder if the rapidly escalating rate of troubled college loans indicate a bursting debt bubble. Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge has this post; John Hayward at the Human Events Blog has this excellent comment on the Zero Hedge analysis.

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Student debt is a problem that is hurting many people over age sixty:

In the first three months of this year, the number of borrowers of student loans age 60 and older was 2.2 million, a figure that has tripled since 2005. That makes them the fastest-growing age group for college debt. All told, those borrowers owed $43 billion, up from $8 billion seven years ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Almost 10 percent of the borrowers over 60 were at least 90 days delinquent on their payments during the first quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in 2005. ….

Some are losing part of their Social Security retirement benefits. Read about a “boomerang” parent – in this case, a mother who had to move in with her daughter due to college loans assumed by the parent on behalf of the child. See the story. (The focus here is “Parent Plus” loans not co-signed loans.)

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Another story discusses the drag that student loan debt may have on the housing market:

Naroff said another major factor weighing on young adults is student loan debt, which is approaching $1 trillion by some estimates. The burden of those monthly payments may be keeping some younger adults from paying the rent on their own, let alone buying a house, even if they do have a job.

You have a lot of the kids coming out with debt, and they’re not going out and buying houses, and that may be pushing out the whole process,” he said.

Naroff said it’s not yet clear how much of the problem is a cyclical one, caused by the high unemployment rate among young adults, and how much is a structural problem caused the increased burden of student loan debts leaving less money for things like homes.

You can find the NBC News story by Alison Linn here.

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