women’s health

women’s health

Support Marriage- Promote Women’s Health

income, marriage, Urban Institute, women's health No comments

Adding to the discussion on women’s health, a recent survey reported that 40.2 percent of women – compared to 29.5 percent of men – reported an unmet medical need due to costs within the last year (*note, however, this is a biased figure and the disparity is actually lower). There is much speculation on the causes for this disproportionate need of women, but identifying a driver is quite simple: the deterioration of marriage. Marriage lifts women out of poverty. Divorce and cohabitation keep women in poverty.

Marriage provides a number of (intuitive) economic benefits to women. Married women share income with their husbands, and are able to optimize the division of labor for a household. Married couples enjoy, on average, larger incomes, greater net worth, and greater year-to-year net worth growth. Not surprisingly, marriage raises the long-run family income of children born to single parents by 45 percent.

Divorce does the opposite. Divorce causes women to disproportionately bear the brunt of poverty. Family income falls by 41 percent and family food consumption falls by 18 percent in the year following a divorce. Divorce is the main factor in determining the length of “poverty spells,” particularly for women whose pre-divorce family income was in the bottom half of the income distribution.

Although it might seem that cohabitation can provide the same economic benefits as marriage, it in fact cannot truly alleviate the feminization of poverty.  Cohabitation is temporary (with a roughly 50% failure rate), and the men in cohabitation are less attached to the labor market than married men. Cohabiters share fewer resources, since their bonds are less assured. Cohabitation, therefore, lacks all the natural gains of marriage (security, labor market benefits such as insurance, and the pooling of resources). Preferring cohabitation over marriage in our policies means preferring a modality of life that cannot deliver the benefits to women’s health coverage that marriage can.

If we want to promote women’s health, we really must discourage divorce and cohabitation. and encourage marriage.  Studies have already shown that married women rate their health better than divorced, separated, widowed, and never-married women do. Married women’s ability to cover their medical costs is one of the many reasons why. 

*According to the Urban Institute: “Questions on unmet need for contraceptive prescriptions or other family planning services were only asked of female respondents. Respondents may report an unmet need because of cost for more than one type of service, so sums may exceed the share reporting any unmet need because of cost.”

The State of a Woman’s Union

abstinence, Christianity, cohabitation, feminism, intact family, marriage, religion, sexuality, teen pregnancy, women's health No comments

By Lindsay Smith, Intern
 

Dear Florida,

I heard that you are spending $45,000to research women’s sexuality within your borders.  Apparently, this information is quite valuable to you.  I know you are offering gift cards if women will complete surveys on this topic.  Good news, I think I can provide you with some answers to your search – no gift card necessary. 

Abundant research has shown that disruption within a family structure increases the likelihood of sexual debut for children. “Women whose parents separated during childhood are more likely to have an out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy, and men with divorced or separated parents are more likely to father a child with a teenage mother.”  As expected, women from intact-married families have the lowest risk of teenage sexual debut, and fewer partners.  Marriage positively affects not only the children, but also the man and woman in the union.  Since your survey touches on a woman’s emotional well-being in relation to sex, you really should know that married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do.”

Based on your survey’s questions, I see you are curious about religious affiliation.  You were wise to ask.  According to MARRI’s publication “The Benefits of Religious Worship,” females who attend religious worship weekly are less likely than their peers to sexually debut as a teen, have a premarital pregnancy, or abort their first pregnancy. The Christian abstinence program “True Love Waits” produces similar effects for its participants.  The American Journal of Sociology’s article “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse” reports that, on average, pledging decreases the risk of sexual debut even for those in a dating relationship. 

Combining regular worship attendance with an always-intact family bolsters these effects.  As seen in diagrams here, hereand here, MARRI research verifies that teens attending weekly worship with an always-intact family are least likely to sexually debut as a teen or have a premarital pregnancy. 

Florida, you mentioned your hope “to design the state’s service offerings, including pamphlets and counseling,” based on the survey’s findings. How about offering marriage counseling to strengthen families?  What if your pamphlets included the benefits of an abstinence pledge? 

Well, I hope this letter has helped.  In case you find the survey a bit superfluous now, it is almost Christmas, and gift cards make great gifts.

Politics Posing as Medical Science

abortion, abstinence, contraception, mothers, news, reproductive technology, women's health No comments

By Pat Fagan, Ph.D., Director of MARRI

NBC News and many others have lauded the results of the Peipert program evaluation of the effects of LARCs (long term reversible contraceptives), namely IUDs and implant contraceptives, which they claim have (unsurprising) effects in lowering abortions.  However, there is much to dispute about the study.   Its method is almost non-existent though a lot of words are used to describe it.  This means their results may be a massive underestimation of the effects or even a massive overestimation of the effects.  We just don’t know;  the “method” is totally unreliable.  It is analogous to going into a library to find out the level of reading in the local population, or to giving a book to those you find at a library to figure out the effect of reading on such people!  In this case they go to a group of women desirous of reversible control methods.  To make matters worse: they have no comparison control group. They do not line up treatment and control (absolutely fundamental to this type of study), but they insinuate comparisons. The project team went through all sorts of contortions to estimate the effects, but they avoided the obvious simple, fundamental step of having a control group.  This is political correctness trumping good scholarship (a dangerous trend in the social sciences that will eventually come back to haunt academia).
Though I am opposed to their way of thinking and acting (more anon), I would have expected LARCs to have had much better results than they did.  There is still way too high a rate of abortion from a method one would expect to virtually totally eliminate it. This much-lauded method does not come close.     
 
Other big concerns I have about this approach to avoiding abortions is the effect of this form of behavior on the long-term marital, family, parenting, and sexual habits of the women involved.  My prediction is that young women who use these methods (who would not feel sexually liberated with totally effective birth control methods) will have many more sexual partners, behavior that itself increases the likelihood of procuring an abortion.  The program will also have high STD effects, likely have very significant effects on future marital stability, and in turn have significantly weakening effects on these women’s future children’s life outcomes.  That STD rate effects would be tracked and measured is something one would expect to be second nature for OBGYNs to report upon.  Maybe there is a second study coming (but that would be useless too, given no control group.)
So: failing grades on method and on narrowness of their view of effectiveness.  And failing grades also are given to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology for rushing shoddy work to press in order to influence the Presidential campaigns.  That is really sad.  It definitely is not good science, nor good politics either, though we would expect medical science to stay above the political fray.  All in all, it is a sad day for medicine and science. 

For an in-depth analysis of the study, see Dr. Michael New’spiece.

Conservatives and the “War on Women”

abortion, feminism, women's health No comments

By Sarah Robinson, Intern 

I would like to address the rhetoric that we hear reported through our news media regarding the “war on women” which conservatives are supposedly instigating.  Conservatives are generally labeled with this accusation because of the pro-life stance with which the Republican Party aligns.  But the pro-life position actually protects women’s health against the negative effects of abortion.  
A pamphlet titled The Top Ten Myths About Abortion, compiled by FRC’s William L. Saunders, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, and Lucia Papayova, contains research findings about the effects of abortion on women.  This research has debunked the myth that abortion is a “good” medical procedure for women.  According to the pamphlet, physical complications from an abortion “include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion.  Risks of complications increase with gestational age.”  Physical complications can also arise with the abortifacient RU-486.  Risks include hemorrhage, infection, and missed ectopic pregnancy. 
This pamphlet also notes some of the key psychological effects associated with abortion.  A New Zealand research team compiled data from a 25-year period and “found conclusively that abortion in young women is associated with increased risks of major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behaviors, and substance dependence.”  This is the most exhaustive research ever conducted regarding abortion.  Other studies suggest a substantial evidence of connection between induced abortion and both substance abuse and suicide.  Women may also experience anxiety, anger, flashbacks, guilt, grief, denial, and relationship problems.  These symptoms are generally identified as Post-Abortion Syndrome, a subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Adolescents who have had abortions, compared to those who have given birth, report more sleeping problems, frequent marijuana use, and increased need for psychological counseling. 
It is clear that abortion is a dangerous choice for women. A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion increases when she or her child’s father grew up in a non-intact family and is not religious. It decreases, however, when the woman or her child’s father grew up in an intact married home and makes religious attendance a regular part of life (see MARRI research here, here, and here). Conservatives, who tend to be pro-marriage and pro-religion as well as pro-life, are not waging a war on women. On the contrary, they may be women’s best allies in this fight.

The Sex Secret You Won’t Find in Cosmo

abstinence, MARRI, marriage, religion, sexuality, women's health No comments

Betsy Huff, Intern
 
Pick up the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine (or any issue for that matter) and you are sure to find a cover story on the “hottest new sex secrets.”  In fact, the aim of the publication seems to be to aid women in finding the most possible fulfillment in their sexual experiences and encounters.  There is a shocking, but not so new (in fact some may say ancient) piece of information that may change the way you view religion and sex.  
In February of 1999, U.S.A Today ran a cover story entitled “Revenge of the Church Ladies,” by William R. Mattox Jr., which revealed that some of the most sexually satisfied women in the country are religious women. It is no divine revelation that premature sexual activity has devastating effects on young girls, but a study that reveals in objective terms that religious women experience more frequent sexual responsiveness might come as a surprise.  Gone is the notion of the prudish, Victorian-minded and sexually repressed church woman the Sexual Revolution worked so hard to release! 
The study cites four factors that may contribute to sexual fulfillment in religious women. Sexual inexperience and lack of baggage from past sexual involvements contributes to a satisfactory sex life within marriage. Similarly, this lack of a sexually licentious past is related to less sexual anxiety due to guilt or fear of consequences from sexual promiscuity. Logically, sexual anxiety is a factor that inhibits sexual satisfaction.  Also, marriage in itself creates an environment for human sexuality to flourish.  The commitment and fidelity created by this relational union allows a woman to “let go” and thus experience more sexual responsiveness.  Finally, for religious women sex is more than just a physical act to meet a sensory appetite. The physical act is also spiritual and emotional; it is symbolic of a transcendent truth that the two are really “one flesh.”  
This is just one of many examplesof social science research supporting the way God intended and commanded humans to live. Other examples include evidence from MARRI research that supports the idea of an intact family as the best environment in which to raise happy, healthy, and successful children.  Other social science researchsupports these same ideas. As Dr. Pat Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute says, “The social sciences, done well, illustrate the way God made man.”

The “Miracle” Drug

contraception, sexual revolution, women's health, youth No comments

Amanda Brennan, Intern
Growing up, I have distinct memories of TV commercials featuring happy, care-free women shopping or going out with friends, while in the background a voice told of the benefits of the latest birth control pill. Though I was clueless about the advertisement itself, I was struck by one phrase: “Have only four periods a year.” For a girl nearing young womanhood, the idea sounded brilliant! Yet, something always left me unconvinced and unsettled.
When the birth control pill came on the scene in the 1960s, it was intended to be the most reliable contraceptive to date. Now, an estimated 11.2 million women aged 15 to 44 use the Pill each year in the United States, as noted by the Guttmacher Institute. Oral contraceptive pills, or OCPs, do more than prevent pregnancy these days; they have additional uses for 58% of users. The study explained that 31% of women use them for cramping, 28% for regulating menstrual cycles, 14% for acne, 4% for endometriosis, and 11% for other reasons. It is believed that 1.5 million women use them without contraceptive intentions at all. The medical world has deemed OCPs “miracle” drugs, as they are prescribed more and more each day to treat health issues. But do these pills in cute packaging deliver healing, or do they wreak havoc on the female body?
With childhood reservations still in the back of my mind, I decided to look into the birth control pill Seasonale, which reduces the frequency of menstruation in a year. I wanted to know the true effects of artificial hormones on the body, specifically the brain. Seasonale’s mechanism of action, the “suppression of gonadotropins,” stuck out to me while searching the Physicians’ Desk Reference. Gonadotropins make up two hormones needed for development and reproduction, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Their production is controlled by gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which regulates the sex steroids testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, thus, contributing to such things as male and female behaviors and maintaining a pregnancy. Usually, cells in the anterior pituitary gland of the brain called gonadotrophs emit LH and FSH, but OCPs manipulate their normal production.
In their recent article, Women’s Brains on Steroids, Drs. Craig H. Kinsley and Elizabeth A. Meyer ask, “What happens, then, when the female brain gets a significant and artificial dose of steroid hormone, either progesterone, estrogen or both?  We know what happens below the waist, the pregnancies prevented.  What happens above the neck, as this steroidal tsunami washes over the neural coastline?” They found their answer in a study featured in the Brain Research Journal that explored the impact of hormonal contraceptives on the brain at different points in a woman’s cycle. Though not detailed or large, the study found that the part of the brain controlling higher cognitive thinking abilities is affected more among women who take the Pill than among those who do not. Kinsley and Meyer point out that these changes may not always deliver positive results, since many women complain they do not feel like themselves after popping artificial hormones into their bodies via birth control pills. In the end, the authors conclude that “[t]he possibility that an accepted form of chemical contraception has the ability to alter the gross structure of the human brain is a cause for concern, even if the changes seem benign — for the moment…Like the rest of life, and like the steroid choices made by those ballplayers, there are costs and benefits.  The benefits are well established; the costs, however, are still coming to light.”
Now that the Pill is being used for more than just contraceptive purposes, people must ask if it delivers health or merely creates more problems. Rather than just blunt or prevent pain from cramping, shouldn’t a woman know what is causing her cramping in the first place? Rather than blindly take a pill that regulates menstrual cycles, shouldn’t a woman know why her body is out of whack (if, indeed, it is)? I don’t think swallowing pills that can alter brain function, even temporarily, is good medicine. Instead of turning to quick fixes deemed “miracle” drugs, we ought to work withour bodies and not against them. The underlying problems must be addressed with actual cures, not Band-Aids, as explained by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, MD, creator of the innovative women’s health science NaProTechnology.
There is more to scratch your head about than just the Pill’s impact on the brain. As MARRI blogger Katie Staudt mentioned in a recent post, a connection between contraception and the rising divorce rate (among other things) has been found. Furthermore, as high school students continue to be sexually active, more of them will turn to OCPs. As we show in MARRI’s Annual Report on Family Trends, birth control pill use by sexually active high school students rose was at 16% in. Still more young women may be taking the Pill for reasons other than birth control. If these pills can upset the normal functioning of a grown woman’s body, what impact can they have on a developing young woman’s body?
I’m left with one more question: If the use of birth control pills among young women solely for health reasons is increasing, is this not giving them the green flag on sexual activity? Well, it sure is giving them the tools for it.

Green Sex= Great Marriage?

contraception, divorce, MARRI, women's health No comments

Katie Staudt, Intern
Last week, MARRI blogger Amanda Brennan wrote a post entitled “Green Sex” (see a few posts below). Amanda explained how there is a strong push in society to “Go Green” in order to be better stewards of both the earth and the human body. Yet, at the same time, over 40% of women between 15-44 are using some form of hormonal birth control that pumps dangerous chemicals into their bodies. So while people are attempting to be organic and healthy, they are sabotaging their own efforts by using hormonal contraceptives that have a number of health risks.
However, some people are beginning to question the use of hormonal birth control (and all forms of artificial birth control) for more than just its health risks. A new website called 1Flesh is a grass roots effort that was just launched by a group of young people as a “revolt against artificial birth control” with the goal to “bringing great sex to the entire universe.” 1flesh.orgis a provocative website (read their “About Us” page) that asks their readers to consider a host of compelling arguments from a secular viewpoint, primarily utilizing the fields of medicine, sociology, and philosophy.
One argumentthat 1Flesh presents is the connection between divorce and artificial contraception. They state that “the national divorce rate doubled from 1965 to 1976, at the same time the use of artificial contraception was made widespread and acceptable.” This is no coincidence. Distinguished sociologist Robert Michael from the University of Chicago, in his analysis “Why did the U.S. Divorce Rate Double within a Decade” (published in Research in Population Economics) explained that the “sudden widespread use of artificial contraception during the same period is responsible for about half (45%) of this increase.” MARRI’s working paper on the correlates and effects of contraceptive use cites the same research. I’d suggest reading the whole argument presented by 1Flesh regarding divorce rates, especially if you’re still skeptical; but assuming the research is true, we must consider the implications of divorce. 
Divorce, while widely accepted, has catastrophic effects for the individuals involved and for society at large. Children are particularly harmed by divorce, as clearly illustrated by MARRI’s  “Effects of Divorce on Children.” It shows that children of divorced parents generally have lower educational attainment, weaker relationships with their parents, earlier and greater sexual promiscuity, more social and psychological problems, greater risk of marital problems and divorce later in life, and many other negative effects.
If the research is correct and artificial contraception indeed leads or contributes to higher divorce rates, perhaps green sex is not only healthier for your body; it might make for a healthier marriage and society, too.

“Green Sex”

contraception, MARRI, sexuality, women's health No comments

Amanda Brennan, Intern

In the last few decades society has jumped on an environmental bandwagon, a green one to be exact. People are trading in junk food for organic food, companies such as Bank of America are reducing paper intake by doing more online banking, and recycling has become strategic and readily-available. The idea that was initially meant to help the environment has developed into a “Go Green” craze. The initiative has opened people’s eyes to being better stewards of both the earth and the human body. But has it been eye-opening enough? 
Ashley E. McGuire of the new women’s magazine, Verily, presents a fresh take on the subject of “Going Green” in reference to sex. In the article, Love and Living Green, the author reveals that being a good steward of the human body is not only about minding what food and drink goes into your mouth and how much you exercise, but also about realizing the importance of sexual health. McGuire describes the present trend of making more nutritious choices by avoiding foods drenched in pesticides, ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, and hormone-tainted meats. Yet, as the author points out, deadly chemicals enter women’s bodies each day by way of hormonal contraception. 
 “As Americans quasi-obsessed with eating organically–with making sure no chemicals go into our produce and no hormones into our meat–we are at the same time culturally attached to a most un-organic method of sex and reproduction,” explains McGuire. The author is not the first to bring this reality to light. Dr. Janet Smith, Chair of Life Ethics and Professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan,explains in Contraception: Why Not?, “We live in a culture that is beginning to realize that it’s bad to put chemicals in the air and in the water supply and food. But women are putting chemicals in their bodies day after day, month after month, year after year, to stop something that’s perfectly healthy.” McGuire notes that “over 40 percent of women aged 15 to 44 in this country [are] using some form of hormonal contraceptives.” 
The data from the Guttmacher Institute coincides with The Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s Annual Report on Family Trends. From 2006 to 2008 it is shown that 28 percent of women aged 15 to 44 used the birth control pill during sexual intercourse. The remaining 12 percent noted above in the total 40 percent must be attributed to other hormonal contraceptives such as the patch, certain IUDs, and the vaginal ring. In any case, the reality is this: destructive artificial hormones are making their way into the human body and the environment via human waste despite peoples’ attempts to lead a wholesome lifestyle. Thousands of women seek to be healthier; however, their efforts are often in vain due to the effects of hormonal contraceptives, which are believed to contribute to health risks such as high cholesterol, breast cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, and blood clots. 
In order to create a healthier environment for the earth and its inhabitants, people must be aware of what they are putting into their bodies via food, drink, air, and now in the realm of sexual health. Adopting “Green Sex” and grasping the truth of hormonal contraceptives will only benefit society. So, ponder McGuire’s ending question, “As our culture increasingly embraces eating and living organically, is it time to extend this philosophy from the kitchen to the bedroom? Is it time to reconsider life’s most organic act – sex? Is it time for green sex to go mainstream?” And decide for yourself.

Twenty-Something Ladies: “It’s Okay” to Think Family!

child well-being, family, feminism, marriage, mothers, Phyllis Schlafly, women's health No comments
By MaryAnn McCabe, Intern
Planning for marriage and motherhood is not a societal norm for twenty-something ladies, nor is fatherhood in the immediate plans of most men. But this generation of young women needs to hear that it is more than okay to think about not only career, but their family. Our culture today attacks traditional femininity, but research supports support the benefits of marriage and motherhood, so why not consider that option while you are career planning? According to studies published here at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, there are many reasons to be married. Married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do. Married women are healthier than never-married, divorced, and separated women. Children in intact married families enjoy more emotional and behavioral well-being than children in cohabiting or single-mother families. Staying married results in men and women looking younger. Those raised in an intact family are likely to consider themselves “very” happy” than those raised in non-intact families. The positive outcomes from choosing marriage and motherhood are astounding.
Hopefully, most young adults are thinking about their future. In order to have a stable and secure home, one must build a solid foundation. Tenacious and driven women may have thought of graduate school, law school, medical school, and/or possibly owning a business. As you start to lay the foundation you may start to think, “By the time I am done with law school I will be twenty-six.” Then a second thought may possibly pop up: “It will take a good couple of years of late nights toiling at a law firm as an entry-level associate in order to become a mid-level or higher associate. Making partner can take up to nine years. I’ll be roughly thirty-five before I can even consider a spouse or child.”
Another consideration a woman must make is the staggering amount of debt she will possess. A law degree or a medical degree costs as much a house. In essence, it is a mortgage before having an actual mortgage. According to the National Student Loan Surveys, “fields of study with the highest levels of borrowing include law students, who are 4% of the NASLS population, but 17% of the borrowers with debt greater than $30,000; medical students are 15% of the survey, but 26% percent of those with debt over $30,000.  A total of 74% of borrowers with debt above $30,000 went to graduate/professional school.” Those with professional education feel most burdened, and women perceived their debt to be a bigger problem than men do. More than 80% of bankruptcy attorneys surveyed by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys reported a “major” jump in student loan borrowers seeking help. These are the issues that can cause women to put off marriage. Education is by no means a bad thing, but it’s important to note its cost, both in dollars and in time.
In The Flipside of Feminism, Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker share their stories, telling young women today that “it’s ok” to factor family into future plans — you should! Schlafly and Venker shed some light onto the fact that it is hard to juggle it all, but we have one life to live, so how do you want to live it?

Sex-Selective Abortion: Consumerism at Its Best?

abortion, Asia, China, family, Jennifer Roback Morse, prostitution, women, women's health No comments
By Obed Bazikian, Intern
Abortion is seen by many who defend it to be a protected right of women. However, there is a murmur starting even among its supporters[1]that this claimed right could in some cases not only be unethical, but harmful to society. The issue at hand is sex-selective abortion, which refers to aborting an unborn child based on his or her gender, and is almost universally affecting the female population.
 
Asia alone has an estimated 160 million women lacking in its population as a result— a number greater than all the women currently in the United States.[2]One city in China, Lianyungang, was found to have “163 boys for every 100 girls under age five.” [3]While the Chinese government’s one-child policy[4]is indeed a major contributor that encourages this practice, it does not explain the cause for sex-selective abortions in other nations. India, the Caucasus nations, and others are increasingly choosing boys over girls before birth. Armenia’s ratio is currently 120 males to 100 females.[5]The shortage of females being born now will lead to an even greater disparity in the future, if this alternative practice of “choice” is permitted to continue unchecked.
In her book Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl analyzes the reasons for the increased rate of female sex-selective abortions and its consequences on society. One reason is simply preference, she says, citing that “parents in nearly all cultures say they prefer boys.” Through further analysis, Hvistendahl says that the increased accessibility to medical technology, such as ultrasound, in many regions of the world also contributes to the imbalance. The fact that ultrasound has become more affordable to a broader population has indeed made choosing boys even easier.
 
What are the ramifications of this choice? One obvious result is a smaller number of women to marry, which would have effects on the demographics of this and later generations. However, the lack of women would foster a climate in which crime could increase tremendously, particularly prostitution and sex-slavery. Jennifer Roeback Morse of the Ruth Institute discussed Hvistendahl’s work, saying, “The exclusive sharing of sexual intimacy with a husband in the protective bonds of marriage becomes more expensive than arrangements giving multiple men access to a single woman. Hence, prostitution, voluntary or otherwise, becomes lucrative as the demand for commercial sex increases. In addition, men without wives are more likely to become violent and commit crimes.”[6]The illusion of intimacy found in commercial sex takes prominence in a society where true, healthy companionship is not encouraged or, in societies with too few women, is not often possible.
There is another ramification to choice which takes place at a cultural level. Hvistendahl has at the end of her book a conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who founded a fertility clinic in Los Angeles. The clinic now advertises for sex-selective abortion, guaranteeing 100% the gender desired, which has proved to be a very popular request at his facility. Steinberg has said “Gender selection is a commodity for purchase…If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.”[7]However, this is a very slippery slope. If Steinberg argues that gender is a commodity, what is to stop us from viewing life as a commodity, too? Of course, choosing gender and choosing life are not the same thing. But where are the limits to our choices? A life has value and is beautiful, whether it is male or female. If our culture does not place value upon life itself as God has ordained, gender selection may just be the tip of the iceberg.


[1] Morse, Jennifer Roback. “Unnatural Selection,” MercatorNet.com, February 6, 2012, http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/unnatural_selection
[2] Mara Hvistendahl, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” (PublicAffairs, 2011), 5-6
[3] Mara Hvistendahl, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” (PublicAffairs, 2011), 23
[4] Hesketh, Therese. “The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years,” The New England Journal of Medicine 353 (September 2005): 1171-1176, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr051833#t=article
[5] Mara Hvistendahl, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” (PublicAffairs, 2011), 13
[6] Morse,Jennifer Roback. “Unnatural Selection,” MercatorNet.com, February 6, 2012, http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/unnatural_selection
[7] Mara Hvistendahl, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” (PublicAffairs, 2011), 251