Friday, September 04, 2009

Eccentric Grownup

I think I need a shirt that says that.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Support Adoption. People Who Don't Like That Should Start Their Own.

Kathryn Joyce has an article, "Shotgun Adoption" in The Nation that criticizes "crisis pregnancy centers" as a plot to coerce pregnant single women to give up their babies for adoption by conservative Christian parents.

There have been abuses by crisis pregnancy centers. That is wrong and should be treated by the appropriate authorities. But this article goes way beyond legitimate abuses to posit a conspiracy. This is unfair and unbalanced left-wing paranoia. Which I oppose exactly as much as I oppose unfair and unbalanced right-wing paranoia.

Christian crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) try to talk women out of abortion. That is their open and stated purpose. No one has to go to them if they don't want to hear that message. Most Christian crisis pregnancy centers promote the idea that children do best when raised by their two married parents. This is true, as I have often argued on this blog. The best outcome, from the CPC's perspective, would be for the pregnant woman and the father of the child to marry, raise their child together, and join the church. Again, this is all open, above-board, and no one has to listen. Of course, few of the women who come to CPCs are already married, in the church, and ready to raise their child - if they were, they wouldn't be having a crisis.

So the next two options are either that the woman would raise the child herself, or that she would give the child to a married couple who dearly want a child of their own and have the commitment, resources, and desire to raise that child in a stable and loving home. Most Christian CPCs think the latter option is better than the former. Two parents in a stable home beat one mom in crisis. There is solid sociological support for this judgment. Still, the issue could be argued either way. Christian CPCs promote adoption by a married couple as best for the child.

For women who agree with this conclusion, the Christian CPC offers to house, feed, care for, and cover all the medical expenses of the woman as she grows her baby and goes through the process of handing her baby over to the adoptive couple. This handover is painful for most women. That is why such a pregnancy creates a crisis in the first place. If it weren't hard, CPCs would be necessary. Many people, including those not directly involved in the adoption, give charitably to support all of this care to give the best ending to what could be a terrible crisis.

People who believe that the child would be better off raised by a single mother can form their own Crisis Pregnancy Centers. They can offer to house, feed, nurture, and cover all the medical expenses of pregnant women who will then go home with their babies. I can see this as honorable work. I think Kathryn Joyce should be the first to volunteer her house and her bank account to the cause. There could be such things as Secular Single-Mom Support Centers. But I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Marriage vs. Alzheimer's

A Finnish study, reported in the British Medical Journal, reports that
Being widowed from mid-life onwards was associated with the highest risk of cognitive impairment later in life with a highly significant odds ratio of 7.67 for Alzheimer’s disease

Living without a partner for other reasons was also related to impaired cognitive functioning much later in life
They theorize that married people have someone to talk to in old age, which helps fend off Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cancer + Separation = 1/3 Lower Survival Rate

The BBC is reporting on a study by Gwen Sprehn and colleagues at Indiana University on the effect of marital status on surviving cancer. They found, as other research has, that married people are more likely to survive than unmarried people. The new element in this study is that those who are separating are the worst off.

The usual understanding of why married people live longer is that they have someone to care for them and to live for. I think what this research adds is that separating is positively harmful to your health. You don't just lose the benefit of marriage, you add a killing stress.

Married - 63% survival after five years and 58% at 10-year mark
Never-married - 57% and 52%
Divorced - 52% and 46%
Widowed - 47% and 41%
Separated - 45% and 37%

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

2/3rds Cohabit, 2/3rds of Them Slide Into It Without A Plan

This is the new finding of Scott Stanley and his colleagues. He has been doing follow-up research on the early '90s finding that married couples who cohabited first are more likely to divorce than marrieds who waited to live together. The nuance that the first study found was that people who were engaged when they cohabited end up like marrieds who waited to live together. It is the other kind, the ones who drifted into living together, who are more likely to drift in to marriage and drift out again.

The new finding in Stanley's latest study is how a big a proportion of cohabiters slide into living together without a future plan of marriage. This means that almost half of all couples cohabit without a definite marriage plan. This is a sizable group putting itself at risk willy-nilly.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sex and Fear, Part 2

Yesterday I noted that men fear more what their wives fear. In thinking further about this idea, I made a connection back to something I learned from Steven Stosny last year: we get angry not to protect ourselves, but to protect our loved ones. In fact, responding to things that threaten us with anger is often more dangerous than if we ran away. We have to get angry in order to stay and fight, even if it endangers ourselves. Why would be do that? To protect our loved ones.

I usually take the world's shocks philosophically, or with sadness. The things that make me mad are more likely to be threats to my family, and by extension, my community. The same applies, I realize, to the things I fear in an emotional way. I can work around dangers to myself calmly, if they can be avoided. But I can feel fear for my children far away, because I can't work around the things that might endanger them. I have to rely on their good sense and safety-making social structures.

That men would feel fear for their loved ones more than for themselves is a corollary of the socially healthy tendency of men to protect women and children. But it also means that fearful men are more likely to damage others if they think that doing so is a righteous way to protect their loved ones.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sex and Fear

I have been having a discussion with a friend about what we should fear from the government. I am afraid of torture, suspending habeas corpus, declaring citizens "enemy combatants," warrantless wiretaps, secret prisons, and failing to enforce securities regulations that threaten the world economy. He is worried about government health care and the car company and bank bailouts as communism, which might force armed resistance to the state. I am not here raising the merits of these fears.

Instead, I was struck by a point that he made in a recent conversation. His wife was much more worried about these things than he was. As I thought about it, several of the women in my life are more worried about the things I fear than I am.

So I had this thought. Moms worry about dangers to their families. That is part of the job. And daughters who are preparing to be moms one day can do a fair job of worrying, too. Dads protect moms and daughters. They fear things that are actually threats to their families and, by extension, their communities. Dads also worry about things that their wives are worried about because their wives are worried. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

This is the rough thought I am working on. Much of the emotion in the various cultures of fear are driven by the good impulse of men protecting women.