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A Closer Look at Costs of Giving Birth

October 17, 1993

Another unwed teen gave birth in a restroom and walked away, leaving her newborn behind. The baby was found and the mother was apprehended.

Among all the other things that unattended teen births and their thrown-away children tell us about our social problems, what is it about giving birth in the socially prescribed manner that makes it such a lengthy, expensive and incapacitating experience? Why do becoming a responsible adult, finding Mr. Right, marriage, baby showers, supportive friends and family, health insurance, advanced diagnostic equipment and procedures, the best medical care possible, prenatal classes, education, and diets, well-stocked nurseries, infant car seats and fancy strollers make the birth process so traumatic?

Could it be that the same socially correct attitude that makes the birthing process so expensive and complex is also what makes it so commercially profitable? Even though the (United States) falls way behind numerous other countries when it comes to solving our relatively high infant mortality rates, I am confident that no other country makes childbirth more commercially profitable.

I can predict who will be self-righteously outraged by these observations: people prepared to spend large sums of money on the childbearing and birthing processes and people who make their living off them. I can also predict that these same people are self-righteously outraged at midwives assisting women who elect to give birth in the privacy of their own homes or in inexpensive community clinics.

My observations are not a critique of the profit motive. I am a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise. I am critiquing the wisdom of consumerism's herd mentality when it comes to having children. I am critiquing our blind acceptance of the socially prescribed ways of living. We must continually question both for there are grave costs when the quality of motherhood and birthing are measured in dollars.

REV. L.M. McDERMOTT

President, the Life-Skills Learning Center

Newport Beach

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