On teen pregnancy, does stigma work?

03.07.2013, 10:12 AM

New York City’s new posters on teen pregnancy are generating heated push-back from people who say that such “shaming” tactics are cruel and won’t work. 

I haven’t seen all the posters, but for me, the core message of the one above (“chances are he won’t stay with you”)  is a) clearly factually true, based on an overwhelming body of scholarly evidence; and b) clearly worth knowing, if you are a teenager, or if you care about teenagers. 

I understand that some communications tactics can backfire, and I certainly agree that, as Tennessee Williams put it, deliberate cruelty is unforgiveable.  But anthropologists will tell you that stigma is often pro-social and is an essential component of any good society, including ours.  Today in most of the U.S. we certainly don’t mind stigmatizing cigarette smoking and racist, sexist, and (increasingly) homophobic speech.  So I begin with with sympathy for the rational use of stigma, when the goal is clearly pro-social. 

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In the several decades that I’ve been involved in this issue, I’ve come to think that there are three basic things you can say to teenagers, if you are trying to get them to think twice about having a baby or getting someone pregnant.  The three are:

1.     Don’t do it, it’s morally wrong.

2.     Don’t do it, it will likely mess up your child’s life.

3.     Don’t do it, it will likely mess up your life. 

It seems like these posters are going for the last two.  What do you all think?   Good idea, or bad? 


37 Responses to “On teen pregnancy, does stigma work?”

  1. Mont D. Law says:

    I don’t find them shaming but I don’t think they’ll accomplish much. Like DARE and “Just say no.” it’s a waste of resources. Strategies that actually reduce teen pregnancy are pretty well known and understood. Taking money from them for things that don’t work as well seems counter productive.

  2. La Lubu says:

    Statistically, most teen mothers are getting pregnant by grown men. This campaign focuses on shaming young women, equating pregnancy with child abuse and neglect. Note that there are no posters targeted at grown men, shaming them for having sex with teen women with whom they are in an inherently unequal relationship (which is of course, why they pursue such relationships). It is not shameful to have an unplanned pregnancy. It is shameful to exploit a vulnerable partner. If same is to be used as a tactic, how about putting the shame where it belongs?

    Shame does not work for this particular problem for any number of reasons: (1) both historically and in the present, the target of shame is one-sided against women. An increasing number of people are unwilling to participate in this unfairness, (2) the end result of pregnancy is a child; another human being. Most people see the birth of a child as a joyous event. Most people are unwilling to participate in a campaign of shaming that negatively impacts the life of this resulting child, (3) people have fewer children, thus the trend of not wanting to alienate or otherwise irreparably harm the relationship with the children that they have remains strong. Also: fewer children mean fewer opportunities for grandchildren, thus a very strong trend of embracing and welcoming the grandchildren of their unmarried children, (4) moving full-speed ahead with shame in order to prevent teen pregnancy means that in the event of a pregnancy, one has to switch gears and go full-speed in reverse to best deal with the changed circumstances. It isn’t possible to both effectively shame and act in a compassionate manner. Given that choice, most people pick compassion. (5) changed social and economic circumstances means that a pregnant young woman’s best move forward (if she chooses to keep her child rather than pursue an abortion or place for adoption) isn’t marriage, but rather getting an education. She is literally better off not being married, as it makes her less likely to have more children in her current vulnerable state, and more likely to knuckle down and get an education.

    “Carrot” works much better than “stick” when it comes to teen pregnancy. Teens want to be regarded as smart and sophisticated; making birth control the “smart” choice, while simultaneously making it easily available reduces teen pregnancy. Even so, birth control does fail (raises hand), and in that instance support is what is needed, not hate. (And yes…that’s what shame is. Hate. It’s mean.)

  3. Hector_St_Clare says:

    I’m not going to endorse any attempt to shame teen mothers, since to do so would just provide them with an added reason to have an abortion. If any pro-life person thinks that shaming teen moms would be a good idea, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Re: the end result of pregnancy is a child; another human being. Most people see the birth of a child as a joyous event.

    Yup.

    Re: people have fewer children, thus the trend of not wanting to alienate or otherwise irreparably harm the relationship with the children that they have remains strong.

    yea, again.

    Re: Also: fewer children mean fewer opportunities for grandchildren, thus a very strong trend of embracing and welcoming the grandchildren of their unmarried children

    yes, yet again.

    Re: moving full-speed ahead with shame in order to prevent teen pregnancy means that in the event of a pregnancy, one has to switch gears and go full-speed in reverse to best deal with the changed circumstances. It isn’t possible to both effectively shame and act in a compassionate manner

    yep. (It’s strange that a feminist and a cultural conservative can come to some common ground here).

  4. fannie says:

    Wow, judging by these posters, “teen moms” have become pregnant all by themselves! It’s like fetuses have popped into these “teen moms” wombs by magic and not, say, due to the efforts of people with sperm!

    Quite a feat.

    But seriously, just out of curiosity, is the city also directly stigmatizing boys and men who impregnate teenage girls? Or do teen moms have to entirely shoulder the burden of stigma and shame on this one?

    David:

    “But anthropologists will tell you that stigma is often pro-social and is an essential component of any good society, including ours.”

    And some opponents of homosexuality will tell us that stigmatizing homosexuality is an essential component of any good society, including ours. Some will go as far saying that rather than having programs that increase tolerance of gay people, we should be stigmatizing gay people because homosexuality is immoral, pathological, and unhealthy.

    In the field of public health, I’m wary of campaigns that stigmatize.

    But, I also think the effectiveness of such campaigns varies according to what public health issue is being targeted. With respect to obesity, for instance, I’ve seen studies suggesting that stigma is not an effective way to reduce people’s weight (and actually causes harm in many people). With respect to HIV, stigma is thought to be a barrier to testing and prevention efforts.

    Even if a stigma campaign is implemented with good intentions to help fix certain public health issues, it seems that the people implementing them also know that these campaigns, on an individual level, are also going to hurt many people via shaming. So, I do see that as deliberate cruelty. It is basically hurting people for their own good. And, I think people who are in favor of these campaigns need to own that.

    Where these campaigns get especially tricky and problematic, I think, is when we begin stigmatizing people for traits that they have little to no control over, or for traits that are not actually unhealthy, immoral, or bad for the individuals involved.

  5. Matthew Kaal says:

    I haven’t noticed these posters, but Bloombergian NYC is somewhat infamous for its public health and awareness campaigns over the years – so I guess I am not surprised that one addressing teen pregnancy would be controversial.

    I guess I am unclear what the goal is with this campaign. If I was an already pregnant teenage girl this doesn’t help me, and might push me to have an abortion as the best option – which seems like a really tragic outcome, and not one that the city should want. The goal needs to be clarified.

    I think if stigmas, or rather, social mores, surrounding the when/where/how of creating children are going to be effective in changing societal behaviors to better the lives of children, then they need to address everyone involved. I agree with La Lubu and Fannie that dad needs to be addressed by society as well as mom. And the goal should probably not be “to shame” those who have failed to live up to society’s standard – but rather to publicize the best environments in which to raise a child so that this becomes the expectation and the goal. All this requires knowing what those environments are, how they are secured, and how best to help everyone achieve them (acknowledging the reality that some mistakes and bad judgment calls have big consequences, but that a person’s whole worth isn’t derived from those).

    Interestingly, I think how we attempt to address this issue might need to look very differently based on the gender. I think an effective attempt at re-establishing a more of responsible fatherhood does involve a certain level of stigma, painting a man who is unable or unwilling to take responsibility for a child he’s helped create as unmanly and un-masculine. It seems there is a general emphasis on virility and the ability to perform sexually in today’s cultural understanding of the masculine, and as it seems that masculinity is the privileged mode of being among men (gay and straight), shifting our cultural understanding of what being masculine looks like to include responsible parenthood and adulthood is a decent goal of a “stigma” campaign. I think we are beginning to see this in the rhetoric of the President when he addresses fatherhood. He may have even used the phrase “being able to have sex doesn’t make you a man; being a man means taking responsibility.” I need to look it up.

    You could go further, if La Lubu’s assertion that most teen mothers are getting pregnant by men who are already out of their teen years, by stigmatizing men who prey on younger girls. This again comes back to a man’s desire to be viewed as masculine – if suddenly it makes you unmanly to date (or hook up with) a teen girl, because the implication is that every woman your own age has rejected you because you aren’t man enough…well that sends a message to the average straight guy that dating and mating within one’s age cohort is the best way to be perceived as masculine and as a good potential mate – because the ultimate judges, the women you know and pursue – affirm that you are good enough for them.

    For women, I think the strategy will probably need to be very different. For one thing, I get the sense that culturally, femininity is not as strongly associated with being a woman (in the ideal) in the way masculinity is for men. So stigmatizing “unladylike” behavior or un-motherly behavior may not be as effective as stigmatizing unmanly behavior would be for men. I haven’t really seen research on this, just my suspicion.

    I also agree with what’s been said, that generally it seems that cultural taboos around sex are aimed at being preventative and promoting abstinence until an ideal mate can be identified and secured. In the cases where teen girls are already pregnant, the societal goal is not to stigmatize mother and child (which serves no one), but to support them and give them options that help them make the best of what is generally a bad situation.

    [I should probably note that I realize that masculine and feminine are not the only, or ideal, ways of being for all men and women, but in our culture that they are privileged as the ideal, so the link is important in addressing social problems.]

  6. annajcook says:

    I have a lot of complicated thoughts and feelings about shame-based public health campaigns (most of them negative). To brief thoughts, with perhaps more to come:

    1) As Matthew Kaal points out, above, it’s unclear what this ad campaign is promoting. Is it urging teenage girls not to have sex? to use birth control consistently? What if they’ve already gotten pregnant? What if they’re uninsured and don’t have access to birth control? What if their boyfriend is reluctant to use a condom and as a couple they don’t have the communication skills to talk about safer sex? How are these attack-y ads going to help a sexually active young woman who is in a situation where she might get pregnant — but lacks the ability to make informed, non-coerced decisions about procreation.

    2) Building on that, I’m also really struck by the way these ads make the “problem” of young motherhood an individual, private one — rather than a social issue to which there might be social, collective solutions. The implication of the ads seem to be that sexually-active teenagers in heterosexual, fertile relationships are intentionally procreating — and selfishly, at that! Without thinking about the sad child on the poster whom they will be responsible for taking care of. This ignores, to me, the systemic issues of poverty, nonexistent sexuality and relationship education, lack of access to basic preventative healthcare services — all of the things that will most likely put young sexually active women in a position to make informed, deliberate choices about their procreative capacity.

    So, yeah. I’m overall really not impressed with this campaign for what it says about teenage woman (and men!), and the way it absolves the larger society of our responsibility to provide these vulnerable young adults with resources to make — and act on — thoughtful decisions about their lives.

  7. Hector says:

    I have no problem with stigmatizing people on general, or as Fannie says. ‘Hurting people for their own good’, as Fannie describes it, but I just don’t think, in this case, the teen moms are doing anything that deserves being stigmatized. they’re making the right choice (not having an abortion), and after all, a baby is a gift, not something to be criticized. they should be supported, not stigmatized.

  8. Diane M says:

    I think there is a line between stigma and giving kids good, real advice.

    We’ve seen stigma in the past. Teens were kicked out of school and shunned. Being a teen mother could hurt your chances of marrying. Babies born to unwed parents were called names and denied rights.

    These posters seem to me to come down on the side of advice, the kind of thing you can imagine someone’s aunt or grandmother saying to them.

    I’m not against these posters.

    Will they work? Teenagers have a lot of hormones. I suspect that supervision would do more to prevent pregnancy.

    So, for the scholars on the site, are there studies on the relationship between parental supervision and teen pregnancy? alternative ways to keep teens out of trouble? (they’re too old for babysitters and after-school care)

  9. Diane M says:

    @LaLubu – Do you know what percentage of teen pregnancies involve adult men? How old?

    A small point – the ads don’t suggest that the teen mothers get married. The emphasis is on not being a teen mother.

    @fannie – According to the article that there is an ad aimed at young men saying you’ll have to pay for me for the next 20 years.

    @Matthew Kaal and everybody else – I’m all for putting pressure on young men to be responsible about baby-making. Any ideas on how to effectively do that?

  10. Matthew Kaal says:

    Diane,

    I don’t know that there is any one effective way to do this, certainly no easy ways.

    A few ideas:
    1. The person best positioned to model responsible fatherhood is a young man’s father – so getting dads involved is important. If this means strengthening marriage, then lets do that. If Mom and Dad don’t stay together for whatever reason, we can work towards educating them about their child’s needs and how they both contribute to healthy and successful development.

    2. Because a growing number of young men don’t have a father figure regularly in their life, it is important that men who interact with young men also model responsibility well – teachers, coaches, priests and male spiritual leaders, uncles, big brothers – all these men need to be encouraged to be positive role models. Civil society institutions like schools, churches, families will likely need to play a role in sorting out how this happens and educating these men to do a good job.

    3. Our media culture is saturated with imagery and messages that over-sexualize young adults and which send troubling social queues to young men about what is acceptable with regards to how they view and treat women. I don’t think censorship works, but I think parents and other responsible parties can assert market pressure on the entertainment and music industries to produce products with better messages for kids. An obvious sub-genre that we can critique is the male dominated R&B/HipHop/Rap music industry. Even here I have some hope that as earlier stars of this genre (folks like Run Rev, JayZ, Will Smith) are now music/entertainment industry executives and also family men, they are able to view the image their industry projects more clearly, and to exert a mature influence on the young artists who depend on them for careers.

    I also think that we are seeing a slight shift in tone away from the sexually explicit which is receiving positive critical acceptance:
    - Out artist Frank Ocean writes heartfelt songs about desiring intimacy and having his heart broken by his first love and wins Grammy’s for them
    - Macklamore and Lewis write a funny (albeit crude) song that focuses on the virtues of thrift and it is the most popular song in America for a month)
    - Ne-Yo wrote “Let me love you” pledging to see the best in the women he is singing too, in the hopes that she will see it too and take pride in herself.
    I think parents need to be savy, and realize that little they can do will change their kid’s tastes in music and culture, but that in any genre there are quality products available which can be encouraged.

    4. Work – La Lubu, sorry if I steal one of your lines, but I do think that more opportunities for young people to work, earn a decent living, and gain practical skills is very important. I don’t know how we do this in a market-driven way that doesn’t saddle the government with more debt, and I am skeptical of programs identical to the WPA or CCC which provided work to young men and women, but at substantial cost to the government. If there was a way to replicate these agencies without replicating their cost structures I would wholeheartedly support them. Even without the government’s help, communities that help young men realize their working potential are empowering those men to be responsible, productive citizens who know the value of work – and that changes a person for the better.

  11. La Lubu says:

    @LaLubu – Do you know what percentage of teen pregnancies involve adult men? How old?

    The stats I’ve seen range from 60%-70%. From the wikipedia article:

    Teenage girls in relationships with older boys, and in particular with adult men, are more likely to become pregnant than teenage girls in relationships with boys their own age. They are also more likely to carry the baby to term rather than have an abortion. A review of California’s 1990 vital statistics found that men older than high school age fathered 77% of all births to high school-aged girls (ages 16–18), and 51% of births to junior high school-aged girls (15 and younger). Men over age 25 fathered twice as many children of teenage mothers than boys under age 18, and men over age 20 fathered five times as many children of junior high school-aged girls as did junior high school-aged boys.

    But regardless of the age of the father, the fathers of teen mothers have never been stigmatized.

  12. Mont D. Law says:

    (Our media culture is saturated with imagery and messages that over-sexualize young adults and which send troubling social queues to young men about what is acceptable with regards to how they view and treat women. )

    Before you start preaching against the evils of popular music I suggest you read this. And give some serious thought about what it would take to change it.

    http://tinyurl.com/cmmxpou

    (When your life is besieged, the music is therapy, vicarious mastery in a world where you control virtually nothing, least of all the fate of your body. I had a friend in middle school who would play Rakim every morning because he knew there was a good chance that he would be jumped en route to or from school by the various crews that roamed the area. But, in his mind, the mask of rap machismo made him too many for them.)

  13. Manny says:

    1. Don’t do it, it’s morally wrong.

    2. Don’t do it, it will likely mess up your child’s life.

    3. Don’t do it, it will likely mess up your life.

    How about, “It’s not a right, only married couples have a right to have sex and possibly procreate, and it is illegal to have unmarried sex (in Massachusetts)?” (That’s not the same as “Don’t do it” (I didn’t say don’t do it, there is no command in my version) and not the same as “it’s immoral” (there is no religion in my version). Saying “it’s immoral” is not supposed to mean “God will be disappointed in you” it’s supposed to mean most people don’t do that, and assure people that it is not expected of anyone. People need to believe that most people do not have sex before marriage, most people stop and say “no” and don’t go all the way to sexual intercourse. Even if it isn’t true, it’s important to say that most people don’t have premarital sexual intercourse, so that people feel like they are doing the expected thing when they say no.

  14. La Lubu says:

    Even if it isn’t true, it’s important to say that most people don’t have premarital sexual intercourse, so that people feel like they are doing the expected thing when they say no.

    Hypocrisy is a proven failed strategy. Ninety-five percent of USians have sex prior to marriage. It isn’t illegal. It isn’t immoral. In fact, it’s quite sensible for those who value both good sexual experiences and sexual fidelity in marriage.

  15. Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: They are also more likely to carry the baby to term rather than have an abortion.

    That’s, um, not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.

  16. Matthew Kaal says:

    Mont.,

    If you get passed the first sentence of the paragraph you quoted from my comment, you’ll notice that I am not preaching against popular music – you’ll see that I am suggesting concerned parties can help shape entertainment markets (through buying patterns, customer feedback, and creative and commercial influence) so that the industries send better messages about women to young men. You’ll not that I suggest using market driven strategies, because when these are done successfully, it means the businesses producing this music make money, which gives them the incentive to change. At the very least this requires an awareness by concerned parties as to why products that currently objectify women and cheapen sex are so popular and successful. What are they speaking to? Especially, how do they speak to young men?

    Ultimately music in all its forms (even songs that are profane, explicit, and/or crude) are forms of artistic expression that give us a glimpse into the artists perspective on life and the world. This is why good music, like all good art, comes in so many forms – it mirrors the experience of truth, goodness, and beauty (or the absence of these things) in our lived experiences. Music only ever achieves popularity because it resonates. That Kendrick Lamar or Rakin resonate with the kid from the article, growing up in 90′s Baltimore, isn’t surprising. They speak to the anger anyone would feel always living under constant threat of violence. But if that kid’s only defense against the collapse of society around him is a tape on a walkman – well, that is really tragic, and ultimately the music is a psychosomatic coping tool – not a solution to his problems.

    And sadly, if the music on the tape is sending the wrong message, as a culture creating tool – it reinforces cycles of destructive behavior and may lead that kid down a dark path (by teaching him that violence must be met with violence, that sex is only about his gratification, that fame and extreme wealth are the only markers of a successful life). Contrast that with the music of the civil rights movement.

  17. Diane M says:

    @LaLubu – From that statistic, I wonder how many of the young men fathering children are only a few years older than the young women? It is not at all uncommon for girls 16-18 to be involved with young men older than 18. Girls that age tend to date boys a year or two older than them. Some girls are in college at age 17.

    The ads in this campaign that are aimed at young men could apply to young men in their late teens or early 20s. (It will cost a lot, you won’t be able to have fun, etc.)

  18. Diane M says:

    @LaLubu – however, in terms of adult men having sex with girls under 15 – I do not favor stigma. I favor jail time.

  19. Mont D. Law says:

    (why products that currently objectify women and cheapen sex are so popular and successful. What are they speaking to? Especially, how do they speak to young men?)

    I know you’re not trying to be condescending but you are. The fact you don’t understand this doesn’t mean it’s not understood. The article I linked to laid it out pretty clearly.

    (But if that kid’s only defense against the collapse of society around him is a tape on a walkman – well, that is really tragic, and ultimately the music is a psychosomatic coping tool – not a solution to his problems.)

    It’s worse now than it was in ’90s Baltimore, more violent and more random. I suggest the two part – This American Life – on Harper High School in Chicago to get a taste of the trauma these kids survive. And your response is the magic of the market should focus it’s mysterious power on encouraging the music industry make rap more positive about women. You seem pretty sanguine about the many, many children being raised in a war zone in your country. The one you’re a citizen of and responsible for. And you’re pretty confident that your vague plan can not only change the music but is an important part of a solution to the problem of poverty, parents and children.

    I believe you to be sincere and well meaning, but this a serious social problem caused by 50 years of economic devastation and the abandonment of people your economy finds surplus to requirement.

  20. Manny says:

    I favor jail time for that too, as well as for intentionally conceiving children, incest, rape, selling babies, selling sperm and eggs, surrogacy, prostitution, human trafficking, and once in a while, fornication and adultery.

  21. zztstenglish says:

    @Manny – “selling sperm and eggs”

    Canada banned the sale of sperm and eggs but didn’t go far enough because you can still donate. The Royal Commission studied reproductive technologies as far back as 1989 and even banned human cloning. But Canadians found ways around the legislation by buying it in the US and shipping it across the border. See link below. So, you can jail people all you want but people will just go offshore to places like India (or whatever) to get around the legislation.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/04/20/eggs-frozen-fertility.html

  22. Manny says:

    La Luba, unmarried sex is still a crime in Massachusetts, and I think reminding kids that it is actually illegal raises awareness that it is serious thing and people are not expected or approved to have sex with someone without marrying them first.

    And most of those 95% are couples that had sex with the person they eventually married, and who said no to most of the others they went out with 95% of the time. Or, were said no to 95% of the time, but that works. So that’s how 95% of people have premarital sex, while at the same time most people don’t have premarital sex. Because most people say no, having sex is not something expected of people. That’s not hypocrisy.

  23. Manny says:

    @zzstenglish, I’m sure the Canadian law deters lots of people who would buy sperm it if it was legal to. It’s a lot like the fornication law in that respect, it helps people say no, in this case to buying sperm and eggs.

    A law won’t ever completely stop the crime, that’s an unfair standard. But we should still have laws, and try to get other countries to have them too.

  24. Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: La Luba, unmarried sex is still a crime in Massachusetts,

    No, it isn’t. Those laws were struck down in the aftermath of Lawrence vs. Texas (and weren’t effectively enforced for a long time before, but right now they’re null and void on paper as well).

    Re: And most of those 95% are couples that had sex with the person they eventually married, and who said no to most of the others they went out with 95% of the time.

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘most’. The median number of sex partners over a lifetime isn’t 50, but it isn’t 1 either. It’s closer to around 4 for women, 6 for men.

  25. Hector says:

    Matt Kaal,

    I doubt men are ever going to see it as ‘unmanly’ to date outside their age cohort, or are particularly vulnerable to social stigma on that front. As long as its legal, I suspect a fair number of men are going to be interested in dating older teenagers.

  26. marilynn says:

    OK I just got to point out David that la society that turning ones back on (shunning) those who treat others with cruelty or indifference is not the same as turning our backs on (shunning) parents who are very young or very poor. You need to get your shunning straightened out in your head – being a jerk to other people should be socially unacceptable and people should not want to hang out with hateful spiteful people. Its totally cool to speak out loudly against people who take more than they deserve at the expense of those with fewer resources and less power. Ostracizing people for making poor personal decisions is just tacky and judgmental and it accomplishes nothing. Think your spouse should loose a few pounds? Start putting them down and telling them you don’t want to be seen in public with them and see how fast they loose the weight.

  27. marilynn says:

    The message of not having children before your prepared to care for them is a good one because if anything bad happens to the kid because of their choices it will be their fault. Its so ironic that society is telling kids not to reproduce irresponsibly in the inner city but is begging them to do just that on college campuses all over the country with ads for sperm and egg donors.

    So on the one hand kids are being coached to avoid making babies they can’t take care of by reminding them that bringing a child into the world is an enormous responsibility not to be taken lightly. Why isn’t anyone crying for all the babies that will never be born because of this Ad campaign? Everyone thinks its so nuts for me to suggest that donors be held to the very same standard of care when it comes to being accountable to and for their offspring because just think of all the children that would never be born if they had to be held accountable as parents. If its working so great for sperm and egg donors to be let off the hook as parents then why not let everyone off the hook cause surely we are worried about all the people that would never be born

  28. marilynn says:

    The message I’m getting is that if your a good kid and stay out of trouble in high school – we want you to be an irresponsible parent in college. Totally OK to reproduce with no intention of care of your resulting offspring so long as there are buyers lined up for your kids.

    Nobody wants your poor uneducated drug addicted ghetto trailer park children, so those kids get the governments full force legal protection and assistance in finding their estranged parents and making them accountable for their actions. But the children of upper middle class ivy educated estranged parents are the driving force behind a multi billion dollar industry, it would cause world wide financial collapse to protect them to the same extent the underprivileged are protected.

    Oh the irony in whose oppressed and taken advantage of now.

  29. zztstenglish says:

    @Manny – Agreed, although good luck trying to get other nations to comply…

  30. zztstenglish says:

    @Marilyn says “Its so ironic that society is telling kids not to reproduce irresponsibly in the inner city but is begging them to do just that on college campuses all over the country with ads for sperm and egg donors.”

    Good observation…and it’s not the first time I’ve noticed the law contradicting itself either. Not to mention the legal mess it has created. Recently, Kansas went after a sperm donor for child support.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/29/3986152/state-pursuing-child-support-from.html

  31. Mont D. Law says:

    (Not to mention the legal mess it has created. Recently, Kansas went after a sperm donor for child support.)

    This is an interesting point, because more restrictive regulation of ART or even it’s unlikely elimination, which is universally agreed to be a good thing, is going to make this kind of legal case much more common. The state’s argument is that the only way to waive your legal responsibilities to your biological child is through the state. Since these parents did not seek the consent of the state to reassign the child’s rights, the child’s rights can not be reassigned. It is a strong move towards treating donor conception as the same as adoption.

  32. JayJay says:

    Manny wrote: “La Luba, unmarried sex is still a crime in Massachusetts, and I think reminding kids that it is actually illegal raises awareness that it is serious thing and people are not expected or approved to have sex with someone without marrying them first.”

    Actually, Manny may be correct that in Massachusetts there is an old statute making unmarried sex a crime, just as in Oklahoma and Mississippi there are statutes criminalizing homosexuality. But just because these statutes are on the books does NOT mean that they can be enforced. These statutes are unconstitutional.

  33. zztstenglish says:

    @Mont – As I recall, you’re from Canada, right? That’s what Olivia Pratten is fighting for (although it’s now under appeal). Should she win and disclose the identity of her donor, does this open a ‘pandora’s box?’

    In other words, could she (or others) now sue the donor for child support? Some bloke from Yale Law School wrote about these possibilities as well as other scenarios. Interesting read if you ever have the time…

    https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/sites/default/files/images/docs/legal.pdf

  34. Mont D. Law says:

    (That’s what Olivia Pratten is fighting for (although it’s now under appeal). Should she win and disclose the identity of her donor, does this open a ‘pandora’s box?’)

    I think Ms. Pratten will likely lose because, as far as I know, her conception was in compliance with the law at the time. I doubt that the Supreme Court will enforce a right retro-actively. Going forward though this kind of case is going to become more common because the state is going to be more active both recognizing and protecting the rights of the child independent of the rights of the adults. This means people working outside the state structure will be at a disadvantage.

  35. Manny says:

    zzstenglish – Agreed, although good luck trying to get other nations to comply…

    Very few nations are on board with the US as far as being a wild west of zero regulations go. Most have already signed on to the UN declarations that protect children’s rights to know and be cared for by their mother and father. Most have laws against sperm and egg sales by single people.

    You agree also that the law is good and countries should stop sperm and egg sales, right? It’d be nice to include that call for laws in your comment, rather than just say “agreed” and then seem to oppose a law because it would be useless or something. It wouldn’t be useless, all countries should have that Canadian law, at the very least. And we should also stop “donation” because it isn’t the money motive that is the only unethical thing, all intentional conception by people not married to each other is a violation of the children’s rights to the identity and nationality and be raised by their mother and father, and for their mother and father to be married to each other.

  36. zztstenglish says:

    @Manny – No, you misunderstand. I do oppose it and I’d like to see a universal ban

  37. Matthew wrote:

    I do think that more opportunities for young people to work, earn a decent living, and gain practical skills is very important. I don’t know how we do this in a market-driven way that doesn’t saddle the government with more debt, and I am skeptical of programs identical to the WPA or CCC which provided work to young men and women, but at substantial cost to the government. If there was a way to replicate these agencies without replicating their cost structures I would wholeheartedly support them.

    I think your priorities are badly mistaken. Given current economic conditions – when long-term unemployment is a crisis, and interest rates on new debt to the federal government hover around zero – increasing jobs and opportunities are much more important than avoiding additional government debt.

    In recent years, we’ve made our priorities clear: paying for wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and large tax cuts, are worth increasing the debt. So why isn’t lowering unemployment and increasing good jobs worth increasing the debt?

    A couple of other considerations:

    1) Unlike war and tax cuts, job creation has a large debt-reduction aspect; the more people work, the greater the government’s revenues, which decreases the debt. This doesn’t mean that government programs to reduce unemployment cost us nothing. But in the long run, they do cost us less than it initially seems, because increased long-term revenues mitigate the costs.

    2) Rather than WPA-style programs, we could just give money to State governments reserved for rehiring the thousands of state employees (teachers, cops, etc) who have been laid off in recent years.