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Out-of-Wedlock Births

January 19, 1995

Your "Dads and IDs: A New Program" (editorial, Jan. 3) discusses the new strategies of collecting delinquent child support from fathers, such as identifying these dads at hospitals at birth time. No mention was given to curbing the appalling, growing number of out-of-wedlock births. The number of 200,000 such births in one year was treated as a "given." There was no mention that this number be reduced, that this number was out of order, that this number suggested irresponsibility, poor education, or amorality.

Of the 200,000 out-of-wedlock births in the state 75-80% are to unwed teen-age mothers. According to the Department of Health Services in Sacramento, there were 12,123 births in L.A. County alone to unwed mothers between the ages of 13 and 18. Many purposely do not use birth control. The young men do not use condoms either, putting the responsibility on the girls. It costs $400-$600 per man just to track down delinquent fathers. Why not spend $20 a year on each male, giving them a year's supply of free condoms.

Our society has failed in teaching personal responsibility. It is not too late to educate a delinquent dad when he is caught, but the deed has been done. We should go after these dads, not coddle them. They are just as responsible for the births of these babies as the girls. Many of these children are unwanted accidents.

One major solution is to adopt more programs in our schools which teach sexual and parental responsibility.

MARILYN BRANT CHANDLER

Chairman, Population Education

Committee, Los Angeles

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