Or, on the road to becoming a Third World shithole …
Jeff Green reports at CNN that the U.S. has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world, according to a Save the Children/World Health Organization report.
American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.
Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.
In developed nations, most newborn mortality is a result of babies being born too small or too early. Prematurity and low birth weight correlate to poor prenatal care. Lack of prenatal care is associated with a 40% increase in the risk of neonatal death.
Japan was among a number of nations highly ranked mainly because they offer free health services for pregnant women and babies, while the United States suffers from disparities in access to health care.
Disparities. A delicate way to put it. Even though our hospitals generally are as well equipped as any to handle neonatal intensive care — better than most nations, possibly — a higher percentage of our babies are at risk when they are born because of those disparities. Tom Tomorrow:
Because of some unholy confluence of conservatism, free-marketism, and general head-up-ass-ism, this country has never made health care for all a national priority. Things like this are the result, and it infuriates me. Next time some right wing asshole starts talking about the scary, scary dangers of socialized medicine, just remember: among industrialized nations, only Latvia has a higher death rate for newborns than the United Fucking States of America.
For a nation as advanced and wealthy as we are alleged to be, thatâ€™s unspeakably obscene.
I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the right wingers to acknowledge this problem. Early last year Nick Kristof wrote a column about the shockingly high infant mortality rate in the U.S., and the righties attacked him for being unpatriotic and even “morally bankrupt.” I kid you not.
In 2001, US women living below the federal poverty line were four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, five times as likely to have an unplanned birth, and more than three times as likely to have an abortion as women with income at least double the poverty line ($9,800). And these disparities are growing …
The article also notes that “the federal Title X program, which subsidizes women’s health clinics across the country, has experienced an annual decline in funding during the Bush years, when the figures are adjusted for inflation.” Title X clinics provide family planning services. Or, they used to. Three years ago the Missouri state legislature stopped funding birth control education and contraception in the clinics. From the Kansas City Star (April 10, 2006):
Missouriâ€™s federally funded Title X clinics each year help about 30,000 low-income women, yet itâ€™s estimated that more than 600,000 women in the state need contraceptive services. About half of these are low-income. State funding would help.
Lawmakers havenâ€™t approved state money for birth control education and contraception for low-income women for three years. About $3.5 million was cut out of the budget in 2003. Last year legislators cut thousands of women off Medicaid, which had helped them pay for contraceptive services.
Some House members recently attempted to allow county health clinics to use state funds for contraceptive services. But most lawmakers didnâ€™t go along. Instead they approved an amendment by Rep. Susan Phillips, a Kansas City Republican, that denied spending for contraceptives or any treatment not spelled out in the state budget. Phillips says contraceptives are not an appropriate use of tax dollars.
The editorial points out that “every dollar spent to prevent unwanted pregnancies saves taxpayers $3 in health-care costs.” But of course it’s not about cost, or even health care. It’s about wingnut morality. Bonnie Erbe writes in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
It’s no secret to those who follow Washington politics that birth control has been “next on the list” of anti-abortion, religious conservatives. Following the enthronement of President Bush’s Victorian coterie in 2001, their top priority — an imposition of “everything but” a ban on abortion — has been accomplished in five short years. Now there’s undeniable proof that abortion was not the home run they longed for, but more tantamount to first base in a long-range plan to ban birth control, too.
Erbe cites a long New York Times magazine article by Russell Shorto about the war on contraception that I’ve been meaning to blog about … so many outrages, so little blogging time. Shorto says that criminalizing birth control has been creeping up on the rightie to-do list. Opposition to birth control was pretty much a Catholic-only phenomenon twenty years ago; now the fundies and the more miswired elements among evangelicals are anti-contraception, also.
As with other efforts â€” against gay marriage, stem cell research, cloning, assisted suicide â€” the anti-birth-control campaign isn’t centralized; it seems rather to be part of the evolution of the conservative movement. The subject is talked about in evangelical churches and is on the agenda at the major Bible-based conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition. It also has its point people in Congress â€” including Representative Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, Representative Joe Pitts and Representative Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma â€” all Republicans who have led opposition to various forms of contraception.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is considered one of the leading intellectual figures of evangelical Christianity in the U.S. In a December 2005 column in The Christian Post titled “Can Christians Use Birth Control?” he wrote: “The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age â€” and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm.. . .A growing number of evangelicals are rethinking the issue of birth control â€” and facing the hard questions posed by reproductive technologies.”
You’ll like this part:
Many Christians who are active in the evolving anti-birth-control arena state frankly that what links their efforts is a religious commitment to altering the moral landscape of the country. In particular, and not to put too fine a point on it, they want to change the way Americans have sex.
I’m not even going to go into the Bush Administration’s blocking approval of emergency contraception or the pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. I’ve ranted many times in the past that the only sure-fire way to reduce abortion rates is to provide easy access to birth control. Here I just want to point to how the way the fundies and Fetus People — excuse me, “social conservatives” — are trying to pull the whole bleeping country into a downward spiral that leads to more poverty, more dead babies, more repression, and more of everything else that plagues the Third World. Like I said, we’re on the road to becoming a Third World shithole. The fundies won’t be happy until we’re all wrapped up in burkhas.
But I’d like to provide one more example, which you may have heard before. Tristero asks why anyone would not approve of a vaccine that would prevent cervical cancer and save lives?
Well, as it happens, our morally-stunted fellow citizens on the right have the answer to the questions. Turns out the the best time to administer the vaccine is when the girl is between 10 and 12 years old. And Hal Wallace, head of the anti-fucking activist group that’s deliberately mislabeled as”Physicians Consortium,” believes that vaccinating an 11 year-old girl against cervical cancer would send a message “that you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want.” And the equally loony Family Research Council (James Dobson’s band of self-righteous prigs) says “it would oppose any measures to legally require vaccination.”
They don’t call ’em the American Taliban for nothin’.