But if later marriage has been a boon for the college educated, the same cannot be said for Middle Americans—the more than 50% of young adults who have a high-school diploma and maybe some college, but not a bachelor’s degree.
In fact, a key part of the explanation for the struggles of today’s working and lower middle classes in the U.S. is delayed marriage. When the trend toward later marriage first took off in the 1970s, most of these young men and women delayed having children, much as they had in the past. But by 2000, there was a cultural shift. They still put off their weddings, but their childbearing—not so much. Fifty-eight percent of first births among this group are now to unmarried women.
Among college grads today, only 12% of first births are outside marriage. For high-school dropouts, who tend to be the poorest population, 83% of first births are outside marriage, the CDC data show.
Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute asserts that women in their 20’s should seek stability in marriage before childbirth. WSJ’s Wendy Bounds asks why.
If postadolescent mothers and fathers were simply marrying each other a year or two after the arrival of their bundle of joy and remaining together, these trends might not be so troubling. But that’s not what’s happening. Many unmarried mothers in their 20s are living with their baby’s father when they give birth. But about two-fifths of those couples break up before their child’s fifth birthday; that’s three times the rate for married couples of their age.
This is the society we live in. I know babies are expensive, especially sick babies. But this young woman did the right thing. As the surrogate mother (a Ms. Kelley) said, the baby deserved a chance.
In a letter to Kelley’s midwife, Dr. Elisa Gianferrari, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Hartford Hospital, and Leslie Ciarleglio, a genetic counselor, described what happened next.
“Given the ultrasound findings, (the parents) feel that the interventions required to manage (the baby’s medical problems) are overwhelming for an infant, and that it is a more humane option to consider pregnancy termination,” they wrote.
“Ms. Kelley feels that all efforts should be made to ‘give the baby a chance’ and seems adamantly opposed to termination,” they wrote.
The letter describes how the parents tried to convince Kelley to change her mind. Their three children were born prematurely, and two of them had to spend months in the hospital and still had medical problems. They wanted something better for this child.
“The (parents) feel strongly that they pursued surrogacy in order to minimize the risk of pain and suffering for their baby,” Gianferrari and Ciarleglio wrote. They “explained their feelings in detail to Ms. Kelley in hopes of coming to an agreement.”
“I told them that they had chosen me to carry and protect this child, and that was exactly what I was going to do,” Kelley said. “I told them it wasn’t their decision to play God.”
Now things get really horrible. The attorneys get involved:
“You are obligated to terminate this pregnancy immediately,” wrote Douglas Fishman, an attorney in West Hartford, Connecticut. “You have squandered precious time.”
On March 5, Kelley would be 24 weeks pregnant, and after that, she couldn’t legally abort the pregnancy, he said.
“TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE,” he wrote.
Fishman reminded Kelley that she’d signed a contract, agreeing to “abortion in case of severe fetus abnormality.” The contract did not define what constituted such an abnormality.
Kelley was in breach of contract, he wrote, and if she did not abort, the parents would sue her to get back the fees they’d already paid her — around $8,000 — plus all of the medical expenses and legal fees.
Next? The parents threaten to seize custody of the child, only to abandon her to be a ward of the State of Connecticut, rather than let the surrogate mother care for her. Ms. Kelley fled to Michigan, where surrogacy is not recognized, and the woman who bears the child gets legal custody. After consideration of her means and the needs of her other children, Ms. Kelley decided to give the child for adoption to a couple who had helped her with her move to Michigan, and who were knowledgeable about children with needs of this sort.
As to the baby’s condition today, her adoptive parents are optimistic.
If Baby S. does survive, there’s a 50% chance she won’t be able to walk, talk or use her hands normally.
In some ways, Baby S. looks different from other 8-month-olds babies. In addition to the facial abnormalities, she’s very small, weighing only 11 pounds and she gets food through a tube directly into her stomach so she’ll grow faster.
Her adoptive parents know some people look at her and see a baby born to suffer — a baby who’s suffering could have been prevented with an abortion.
But that’s not the way they see it. They see a little girl who’s defied the odds, who constantly surprises her doctors with what she’s able to do — make eye contact, giggle at her siblings, grab toys, eye strangers warily.
“S. wakes up every single morning with an infectious smile. She greets her world with a constant sense of enthusiasm,” her mother said in an e-mail to CNN. “Ultimately, we hold onto a faith that in providing S. with love, opportunity, encouragement, she will be the one to show us what is possible for her life and what she is capable of achieving.”
So can we charge the SPLC as an accomplice?
The Family Research Council shooter, who pleaded guilty today to a terrorism charge, picked his target off a “hate map” on the website of the ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center which is upset with the conservative group’s opposition to gay rights.
Floyd Lee Corkins II pleaded guilty to three charges including a charge of committing an act of terrorism related to the August 15, 2012 injuring of FRC’s guard. He told the FBI that he wanted to kill anti-gay targets and went to the law center’s website for ideas.
At a court hearing where his comments to the FBI were revealed, he said that he intended to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” The shooting occurred after an executive with Chick-Fil-A announced his opposition to same-sex marriage.
One of the things I try to impress on my children is that things MEAN things. Or to say it philosophically, there is a final cause. Nearly all human traditions share the theme that it is not good for man (and I include woman here; “man” is an inclusive term, and I don’t feel it’s degrading to our females to be singled out with a special variation) to be alone. The bodies and minds of men and women were built to be together, to join with each other in the creation of families. Please don’t think I’m saying that you can’t have a full life without marriage. But please also recognize that the telos of our differentiation is to be joined together. If we choose not to do that, we lose part of ourselves. Wurtzel’s words:
By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.