Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A primer for social conservatives who want to argue for their views with economics

Somehow I missed this editorial from Ross Douthat, which appeared in the radically leftist New York Times. He responds to the charge that conservatives don’t make economic arguments for their socially conservative views, even though the data is there to support such arguments. What he writes is a pretty good primer on evidential arguments for social conservatives. My regular readers will recognize some of the names he mentions from previous posts on this blog.

Excerpt:

Here are a few (of many) possible answers. The first is that social conservatives actually do make such arguments, even if the phrase “negative externalities” isn’t deployed with quite the frequency Caplan would like. Look at any prominent document on changing family structures, for instance, from The Moynihan Report down through Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s famous “Dan Quayle Was Right” to the “marriage gap” arguments of today, and you’ll find an intense focus on the socioeconomic costs of the trends the writers are describing and/or deploring. Indeed, the entire corpus of socially-conservative intellectual efforts, from 1970s-era neoconservatives like Richard John Neuhaus and James Q. Wilson down to the present era, is shot through with arguments that are, if not purely economic, at least heavily informed by economic questions.

Right now, whether you’re reading Jonathan Last on demography or Kay Hymowitz on young manhood or Brad Wilcox on marriage and middle America or Mark Regnerus on the market for premarital sex, the case for social conservatism is reliably — perhaps even too reliably, I fear, in some of my own work — framed in the language of costs and benefits, mobility and opportunity, education and income and life outcomes. (And likewise on issues that fall within the socially-conservative penumbra, like immigration, crime, and drugs.)

But note that very few of the writers and intellectuals I’ve just mentioned are practicing economists: They’re political scientists, sociologists, journalists, and so forth. (Arguably the most influential socially-conservative champion of free market economics in the last generation, Michael Novak, earned degrees in theology and philosophy, not economics itself.)

In a previous NYT piece, he had also linked to a new 2014 study from the Journal of Sexual Research which showed how delaying sexual activity improves relationship quality and stability.

Abstract:

While recent studies have suggested that the timing of sexual initiation within a couple’s romantic relationship has important associations with later relationship success, few studies have examined how such timing is associated with relationship quality among unmarried couples. Using a sample of 10,932 individuals in unmarried, romantic relationships, we examined how four sexual-timing patterns (i.e., having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence) were associated with relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication in dating relationships. Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes. This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.

That’s nothing new, but it shows that research falsifies the standard leftist/feminist narrative about recreational sex being normal and healthy. The sexual revolution is very much an idealistic flight from reality. Reality is generally more conservative than the leftists present in their sterile classrooms and popular culture entertainment. You’re not going to see the conclusions of mainstream research reflected in a feminist university professor’s angry rhetoric, or in TV shows and movies written by privileged radicals who have made all the wrong choices in life.

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Assistant to Kermit Gosnell admits to killing ten born-alive babies

WARNING: this story is really horrific. Reader discretion is advised.

CNS News points out that Gosnell joked with his staff about later-term abortions.

Excerpt:

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist now on trial in Philadelphia charged with seven counts of first-degree murder–he allegedly cut the spinal cords of late-term aborted babies who were born alive–apparently used to joke about the large size of some the infants he aborted and in one case, according to what a co-worker told the grand jury, said, “This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop.”

Gosnell, 72, who ran a multi-million dollar abortion business in West Philadelphia, was arrested on Jan. 19, 2011, and his trial started Monday, Mar. 18, 2013. The first-degree murder counts refer to seven late-term aborted babies who were born alive and then killed, their spinal cords cut with scissors.

Gosnell is also charged with the third-degree murder of a pregnant woman, Karnamaya Mongar, 41, who died after being given a pain killer at Gosnell’s office. He also faces several counts of conspiracy and violation of Pennsylvania’s law against post-24-week abortions.

In testimony on Monday, Adrienne Moton, who used to work for Gosnell at the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia, said she recalled one baby – “Baby Boy A” – who was aborted  in July 2008. Baby A was so large, Moton took a photo of the child with her cell phone before Gosnell took the baby out of the room.

“I just saw a big baby boy. He had that color, that color that a baby has,” Moton said in court. “I just felt he could have had a chance. … He could have been born any day.”

Moten described how she helped to kill at least 10 born-alive babies by cutting their spinal cords.

More on the story from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

The grand jury report includes the account of another of Gosnell’s employees, Kareema Cross, describing the moment of Baby A’s birth:

After the baby was expelled, Cross noticed that he was breathing, though not for long. After about 10 to 20 seconds, while the mother was asleep, “the doctor just slit the  neck,” said Cross. Gosnell put the boy’s body in a shoebox. Cross described the baby as so big that his feet and arms hung out over the sides of the container. Cross said that she saw the baby move after his neck was cut, and after the doctor placed it in the shoebox. Gosnell told her, “it’s the baby’s reflexes. It’s not really moving.”

A neonatologist who testified on behalf of the grand jury said that Gosnell’s explanation for the baby’s movements was false, and that in all likelihood Gosnell failed immediately to kill the baby, and that his “few moments of life were spent in excruciating pain.”

The neonatologist also estimated the baby’s age as around 32 weeks gestation.

[...]Gosnell’s lawyer is arguing that the prosecution can’t prove that any of the seven babies he stands accused of murdering were born alive. He told the courtroom yesterday that the prosecution of his client is a racist-inspired “lynching.”

Gosnell is calling the charges against him an “elitist, racist prosecution”.

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New study: divorcing after kids turn seven causes them to underform at school

Dina sent me news of this interesting study from Medical Daily.

Excerpt:

Kids whose parents divorce after they turn seven are significantly more likely to suffer a drop in performance at school, a UK government sponsored study has revealed.

The latest research sponsored by the UK education department linked exposure to parental divorce or constant arguing among parents after the age of seven to “lower educational attainment” in secondary or high school, according to The Telegraph.

The study conducted by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Center found that a variety of family factors affected children’s education performance and behavior.

Researchers also found that while children who have several brothers and sisters perform worse at school, they are not more likely to be poorly behaved.

The latest research sponsored by the UK education department linked exposure to parental divorce or constant arguing among parents after the age of seven to “lower educational attainment” in secondary or high school, according to The Telegraph.

The study conducted by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Center found that a variety of family factors affected children’s education performance and behavior.

Researchers also found that while children who have several brothers and sisters perform worse at school, they are not more likely to be poorly behaved.

Children who watch a lot of television were also found to have weaker verbal skulls, whereas children who have strict parents who enforce rules at home are more likely to have better verbal skills and have better scores on school tests. However, researchers noted that frequent punishment at home was linked to worse test scores and behavior at school.

Researchers found that parental skills were crucial in determining a child’s school performance and mothers and fathers could actively help to boost their children’s verbal skills by reading with them.

The good news is that children with the risk factors found in the report could benefit from extra help at school to “realize their potential”.

Researchers analyzed up to 40 factors on thousands of children and looked at how traumatic events like divorce or death and the family affected results in tests at the age of 14 and GCSEs (subject tests UK students need take to pass high school) at 16 and children’s behavior and well-being, based on parental questionnaires.

Researchers found that exposure to parental divorce after the age of seven was associated with worse behavior and worse GCSE test results. Based on the findings, researchers suggest that younger children may not be as affected as older kids because they are less able to understand the implications of divorce. Experts noted that the factors which affect test results at the age of seven are also likely to affect achievement later on in the child’s educational career.

“These findings highlight the continuing significance of family separation, conflict and dissolution on the educational attainment and wellbeing outcomes of young adolescents,” researchers wrote in the study, according to Daily Mail.

The study found that parenting skills, poverty and illness or disability had the most impact on a child’s success in school.

Social conservatives and Christians agree that it is important for us to minimize divorce, because of the negative impact that it has on children. We need to think through what policies make it easier and more profitable for people to get divorced, and then oppose those policies. Policies like no-fault divorce. We need to promote policies that discourage divorce, like tax incentives for marriage and mandatory shared-parenting laws. We know what is good. Now we who believe in the good have to advocate for laws and policies that promote the good. Children are depending on us to get informed and persuasive on these issues.

This study was also reported on in the UK Telegraph.

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NYC’s largest abortion clinic stops operations due to pro-life protests

Good news in the New York Daily News, although the article is hopelessly biased against pro-lifers.

Excerpt:

A Sunset Park abortion clinic has shut down after Catholic protesters drove away doctors and patients, according to the owner of the clinic.

The Ambulatory Specialty Surgery Center of Brooklyn on 43rd St., closed earlier this month and will reopen in October as a new medical center providing outpatient surgeries, but not abortion.

Catholic leaders claimed the clinic’s closure after 22 years as a victory for their anti-abortion effort. Abortion advocates said they had never heard of a clinic in the city closing under pressure from protesters.

[...]Julie Kirshner, president of the Brooklyn and Queens chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she was shocked abortions were no longer offered at the medical center.

“It’s really a shame. I feel very badly and I’m disappointed about it,” said Kirshner. “This means that women will have to be inconvenienced to get their health care. If [the clinic on 43rd St.] closed down, this could mean future closings and that’s very disappointing.”

Life Site News adds:

This clinic was apparently a very big, deadly fish. According to The Tablet:

“This was the oldest and largest abortion clinic in New York City and for many years, in the United States,” said Msgr. Reilly. “I believe more than a quarter of a million unborn children lost their lives there.”

A quarter of a million dead. Those numbers remind me of the tens of millions killed by atheists like Stalin, Mao and others like them.

Now contrast that peaceful pro-life approach to change with the approach used by pro-abortion advocates:

An elderly pro-life activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School in Michigan while he was peacefully protesting abortion with a sign depicting a baby and the word “Life,” according to local police cited in the Flint Journal newspaper.

Locals say that the victim, James Pouillon of Owosso, was well-known in the area for his pro-life activities.

[...]Reports indicate that a second individual was shot and killed in a different area of the city earlier in the day, and the two shootings are believed to be related, according to Shiawassee County sheriff George Braidwood. According to M-live.com, the second victim has now been identified as Mike Fuoss, 61, the owner of a local gravel pit. Fuoss was found dead in his office.

Police have confirmed that a suspect – a 33-year-old Owosso man – was taken into custody at the suspect’s home shortly after the 7:30 a.m. shooting. After being taken into custody he confessed to the second killing as well.

The pro-abortion side had nothing to say about that violence in the days after the tragedy, too. But are all pro-abortion advocates really so ghoulish?

Remember this case:

A doctor who gave abortions to minorities, immigrants and poor women in a “house of horrors” clinic was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said. State regulators ignored complaints about him and failed to inspect his clinic since 1993, but no charges were warranted against them given time limits and existing law, District Attorney Seth Williams said. Nine of Gosnell’s employees also were charged.

Gosnell “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord,” Williams said.

[...]Bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses “were scattered throughout the building,” Williams said. “There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose.”

[...]Gosnell has been named in at least 46 malpractice suits, including one over the death of a 22-year-old mother who died of sepsis and a perforated uterus in 2000. Many others also involve perforated uteruses. Gosnell sometimes sewed up the injury without telling women their uteruses had been perforated, prosecutors said.

Gosnell charged $325 for first-trimester abortions and $1,600 to $3,000 for abortions up to 30 weeks.

When a person supports the murder of innocent little babies for profit, then anything is possible – even forcing pro-lifers to subsidize the massacre. That’s exactly what the Obama administration is always pushing for. Recall that Obama not only supports the murder of unborn babies, but also of born babies. He voted in favor of infanticide several times.

This is election in November is a chance for pro-lifers to roll back some of the pro-abortion measures introduced by the Obama administration. We all need to do what we can before election day.

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If Ron Paul were President, 16 to 28 states would keep abortion legal

Which states would Ron Paul allow to legalize abortion?

Which states would Ron Paul allow to legalize abortion?

From the Weekly Standard. (H/T Triablogue)

Excerpt:

“[Ron Paul] has an outstanding chance of winning in Iowa,” according to Bob Vander Plaats, who served as Mike Huckabee’s 2008 state campaign chairman. “There’s a lot about Ron Paul that people like,” Vander Plaats says, pointing to Paul’s “almost prophetic” vision of our economic problems and his commitment to do away with “politics as usual.”

But Paul could face trouble with values voters in Iowa, where 60 percent of GOP caucusgoers are evangelical Christians. Vander Plaats says his socially conservative umbrella organization, the Family Leader, has ruled out endorsing Paul because “sometimes [Paul's] libertarian views trump his moral compass.”

“On abortion, [Paul] believes that’s a states’ rights issue, we believe that’s a morality issue,” says Vander Plaats. In a post-Roe v. Wade world, “We don’t believe abortion should be legal in Maine and illegal in Iowa.” (Paul voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003, but expressed deep reservations about voting for a federal law on abortion.)

“We’re very concerned” about Paul’s position that the government shouldn’t recognize civil marriage, Vander Plaats continues. The group also balks at some of Paul’s foreign policy views. ”Even though we may agree with him that we’re not called to be the policeman of the world, we do believe we’re called to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel,” says Vander Plaats. “And we do believe [a nuclear-armed] Iran is a definite threat not only to Israel, but to our freedom as well.”

[...]Vander Plaats says he doesn’t think very many Iowa voters are aware that Paul thinks it should be up to states to decide whether or not to protect human life. But now that Paul leading in the Iowa polls, his positions may come under greater scrutiny.

Here’s a 2006 USA Today article listing the states that would make abortion legal under Ron Paul’s plan.

Excerpt:

Twenty-two state legislatures are likely to impose significant new restrictions on abortion. They include nearly every state in the South and a swath of big states across the industrial Rust Belt, from Pennsylvania to Ohio and Michigan. These states have enacted most of the abortion restrictions now allowed.

Sixteen state legislatures are likely to continue current access to abortion. They include every state on the West Coast and almost every state in the Northeast. A half-dozen already have passed laws that specifically protect abortion rights. Most of the states in this group have enacted fewer than half of the abortion restrictions now available to states.

Twelve states fall into a middle ground between those two categories. About half are in the Midwest, the rest scattered from Arizona to Rhode Island.

[...]The 22 states likely to enact new restrictions include 50% of the U.S. population and accounted for 37% of the abortions performed in 2000, the latest year for which complete data were available.

The 16 states likely to protect access to abortion include 35% of the U.S. population and accounted for 48% of the abortions performed.

So Ron Paul, far from being pro-life, would allow abortion on demand in 16 to 28 states, many of them the most populous states in the union – like California and New York. I understand that he calls allowing abortion in 16 to 28 states “pro-life”, but voters have to think and decide – is that really pro-life? Is it really pro-life when the number of abortions per year will drop from 1.1 million to 550,000? Is that pro-life? (Assuming that the people in the pro-life states don’t just cross the border to get an abortion elsewhere – which is false, of course). Paul’s position is that he is personally pro-life, but he thinks that other people should be allowed to decide if an unborn baby can be killed or not, at the state level. Isn’t that pro-choice though?

Similarly, Paul would allow states to redefine marriage to be anything they want it to be, since he thinks that the definition of marriage is an issue that states should decide. That’s his view. Is that pro-marriage? Does that position take seriously the need for children to be raised by a mother and a father?

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