Every year thousands of babies, predominately from poor African-American families, are born at risk of developing HIV. Many of these children develop HIV related infections that could have easily been prevented by prenatal testing and treatment. States that have implemented HIV testing for infants have seen their infections rates drop dramatically. Such success even inspired Congress to pass the Ryan White Early Diagnosis Grant Program. The program authorized $30 million in funding to states with infant HIV testing in order to ensure that these vulnerable children are protected.
The program was created just two months ago yet someone has already included language in the appropriations bill to prohibit funding for the Baby Aids program. Section 20613(b) of H.J.Res. 20 states:
(b) None of the funds appropriated by this division may be used to: (1) implement section 2625 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300ff-33; relating to the Ryan White early diagnosis grant program)…
This provision does not save any money but simply prohibits funds to help identify these toddlers. In fact, the funding was already included in President Bushs FY08 budget request. So why would anyone insert this language into the bill?
Earlier this week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attempted to add an amendment to restore the funding. Unfortunately, Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) never allowed the amendment to be included before the bill reached the Senate floor for a vote.
One would think that protecting sick babies is an issue that both Democrats and Republicans would fully endorse. So who inserted this language? And why wasnt Sen. Coburn’s amendment added? Every American who cares about children should be asking that question and demanding that Congress give us an answer.
Elizabeth Marquardt at the always excellent Family Scholars Blog notes that people tend to associate negative connotations to the concept of commuter marriages. Marquardt believes that many people think that somehow, at the very least, the physical presence of a couple together is what makes a marriage real. She goes on to note that we take a quite different view when it comes to the children of divorce:
When it comes to children whose parents part, most people will concede that something sad has happened but these days many people will also add something like this: well, divorce happens a lot. Children of divorce know a lot of other kids growing up the same way. Its not such a big deal nowadays. Its normal.
In other words, when it comes to the parent-child relationship we dont think much of the fact that for many children today even the simple physical presence of both parents in their daily lives cannot be taken for granted. Some who support widespread divorce might even argue that the daily presence of their parent is not all that critical to the parent-child relationship. The parent-child relationship is no less real simply because they dont live together.
A commuter childhood is just another way of growing up these days. But a commuter marriage? Well, what adult wants to live in that?
Indeed, children of divorce are often expected to endure a situation that most adults would never willingly choose for themselves. Edith from Monastic Musings adds an insightful point:
When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher told my mother that my grades would improve if I only applied myself to my schoolwork. Oh no, hes applying himself, mom would tell my exasperated teacher. Hes just really that dumb.
Mom believed that effort was more important than intelligence. And as Po Bronson writes in New York magazine, she might be right:
When parents praise their childrens intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think its important to tell their kids that theyre smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.
But a growing body of researchand a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school systemstrongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of smart does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
According to the article, psychologist Carol Dweck says that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids reasoning goes; I dont need to put out effort.
A recent study dealing with the emotional consequences of teen sex confirms what conservatives have long been trying to convince mainstream society premarital teen sex can be harmful. The study, performed by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, found that as many as one-half of the sexually-active teenagers surveyed felt guilty, remorseful, and used as a result of their promiscuity.
Survey results even highlighted the harmful impact that oral sex can have on the teen psyche, pointing out that about one-third of teenagers who reported having engaged in oral sex believed that it had been detrimental to them. In elaborating on the significance of the study results, researcher Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher stated, It is important for parents to help teens understand that having oral sex may result in social, emotional and physical consequences just as having vaginal sex may result in these consequences.
Given the source of this information, it is actually quite surprising that we see results which validate, if only from a pragmatic perspective, the conservative ideal of approaching sex with a great deal of caution. As expected, the study does not invoke any truly moral considerations for avoiding sexual intimacy, nor does it overtly say that teens should, in all instances, abstain from sexual behavior. It does, however, open the door for continued discussion and, at the very least, implicitly lends credence to the idea that abstinence is the best way to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the younger generation of Americans.
Possibly the most important result of this study is that it gives the conservative community yet another set of facts for arguing with our liberal counterparts individuals who oftentimes disdain moral considerations for remaining sexually pure and place reliance upon cold, hard facts. Well, we now have those facts. Lets use them to our advantage.
The door is cracked open. Its our job to widen that crack.
According to World magazine’s blog, “Defenders of same-sex marriage in Washington have filed an initiative that would require heterosexual couples to have children within three years of tying the knot — or have their marriages annulled.” NWCN.com, a Washington State news site, quotes the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (WA-DOMA) as saying:
For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,” said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.”
For the moment, let’s take this group seriously enough to examine the question, “Is marriage solely for the purpose of creation?” My tentative answer: Yes and no. I agree with natural law thinker Robert George, who says, “Here is the core of the traditional understanding: Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of person that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect…” He adds: “Although not all reproductive-type acts are marital, there can be no marital act that is not reproductive in type.”
A number of factors could prevent a married couple from having a child within three years (e.g., what if the child is stillborn?) so it would be unfair to penalize them for something that is beyond their control. Instead, a more reasonable criteria should be established that is based on actions that are solely within their power. For example, all couples who wish to marry—both gay and straight—must be willing and able to engage in “marital acts”, acts that are reproductive in type. To paraphrase the WA-DOMA, those couples who cannot or will not engage in marital acts that are reproductive in type should equally be barred from marriage.
The need to solve cultural problems for today's family is great, urgent, and possible.
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