Thursday, October 22, 2009

Worst parent nominee: Suffocating a newborn

This girl in Nevada doesn't seem to learn. In 2006, she dropped a stillborn baby in the trash in a Las Vegas casino bathroom. She wasn't charged in that case, because she was 16. (Is it legal for 16-year-olds, or do they just not bother with kids? You'd think it would at least be against health codes to drop a body in a public bathroom trash can.)

This August, she said she smothered a newborn, because she was afraid her mother would kick her out of the house. She says she didn't know she was pregnant until she gave birth, and when it popped out, she strangled it. An autopsy failed to confirm that the cause of death was suffocation.

Makes you wonder how still that first child was when it was born.

Makes you also wonder about the loving nature of the household, if the daughter is enough afraid of being kicked out of the house for screwing up that she will kill her baby to avoid being found out. This is a girl who should have noticed that she hadn't had a period lately and then invested in an abortion. It's also an argument against parental notification. This girl was afraid to go to her mother for advice on what to do when she was pregnant.

Mostly I'm passive about abortion, literally pro-choice, saying it should be up to a woman, after consultation with the father, her doctor, and her god. But other times I'm pro-abortion; that is, I wish certain women would choose abortion.

Being an atheist, I don't think there is any intrinsic moral issue involved. I believe a nation's morality is a sum of what feels right to the people in the culture. What feels right to any person is a complicated stew of genetic and epigenetic dispositions, what happens to us growing up, and what our parents, televisions, music, and (mostly) our friends tell us is right.

So in a case where a kid is likely to be unwanted (yes, including severely handicapped, if the mom can't muster as much devotion as it takes), I wish the pregnant woman would hit Control-Z and undo it until they're ready to be a mom. Freaknomics has a chapter on this issue, saying that legalization of abortion coincided with a drop in the crime rate in states where it was legalized. They attributed it to fewer unwanted kids. Later they had to back up a little, due to a data misinterpretation, but half of their effect stands. Whether kids are wanted is a big factor in the crime rate.

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