Monday, August 23, 2010

Fletch Abortion and Child Abuse

I thought I'd do this post to expand upon a reply I made on Lindsay Mitchell's blog. Lindsay had done a post on a statement put out by Paula Bennett called "Why You Should Care", in which Paula reports on the number of child abuse cases in this country, and condemns them -

In the last year Child, Youth and Family received over 125,000 reports from people concerned enough about a child’s safety to notify authorities. In over 21,000 of these cases, child abuse or neglect was confirmed. So that’s over 340 notifications and 57 confirmed serious abuse and neglect cases every day. That’s 2,400 reports of child abuse and neglect every week in New Zealand.
There is no excuse for beating, abusing and neglecting our children. No child’s life should begin this way. And when it does, the harm is substantial and long lasting.


I left this comment on Lindsay's blog in reply -

If society has the idea in the back of it's collective mind that it's OK to kill a baby in the womb, and that it's OK to take action to prevent babies being born for convenience, then how does that affect the attitude we have toward the kids we already have?
Once upon a time, children were seen as precious - as a gift - something to be desired. When a couple fell pregnant, the whole village rejoiced in their good fortune. These days, people use contraception because they're not ready to accept children yet.
Children are a thing to be avoided until we're "ready" - a thing to be pushed back and pushed back until our careers have taken off and until it's almost to late to conceive. And if we do fall pregnant by accident, when we're not ready, then the baby is seen as a curse - an inconvenience - easier to kill in the womb now, and we can try again later when it suits us.
When you have a climate where abortion and (maybe soon) euthanasia are acceptable, the value we place on all life is lowered. If it's acceptable to kill 18,000 of these babies a year in the womb then of course it is going to devalue life across the board; we shouldn't really be too surprised.

I do believe that there is a connection there, although in a reply, Lindsay said that I was trying to tie together two separate issues. That led me to do an internet search to see if anyone else had tried to make that connection, or if there were any studies that supported the link between abortion and child abuse. Firstly I came across an article written in 1979 by Dr. Philip Ney in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry called “Relationship Between Abortion and Child Abuse,” in which he lists 8 "possible psychological mechanisms whereby an increase in the rate of abortion could lead to an increase in child abuse." These are -

1)      Having an abortion may decrease an individual’s instinctual restraint against the occasional rage felt those dependent on her care.
2)      Allowing infants to die by permissive abortion might diminish the social taboo against aggressing the defenseless.
3)      By lessening children’s confidence in their parents’ care, abortion may increase the hostility between the generations which may become violent.
4)      By discarding nondefective unborn children wholesale, abortion may devalue children, thus diminishing the importance of caring for children.
5)      When abortion increases guilt and self-hatred, the parent may displace it onto a child.
6)      A woman’s choice for abortion increases the hostile frustration of some men, intensifying the battle of the sexes, for which children are scapegoated.
7)      Abortion of the first pregnancy may truncate the initial developing mother-infant bond, thereby diminishing future mothering capability.
8)      A previous abortion may result in the depression which interferes with the mother’s capacity to bond to her new-born.
After this I found a study from 2005 that the Washington Post also reported on in an article
Women who have abortions are significantly more likely to physically abuse their children than women who do not have abortions, said a study by a research group and professors at Bowling Green State University.
Compared with mothers with no history of induced abortion, those who had undergone the procedure were found to have a 144 percent greater risk of physically abusing their children, said the study, published by the medical journal Acta Paediatrica. Women with pregnancy loss in general -- including abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage -- were found to be 99 percent more likely to commit child abuse.

I know that there are those who will say that studies can be (and are) produced to show anything, but I think results like this should give caution, especially in light of horror stories like those mentioned in this article of women killing infants that are contributable to how they were affected by abortion (effect of number 5 in the list above). The secular world now has a mantra that "every child should be wanted", and that therefore if we abort the ones we don't want, the ones that come into the world are wanted and therefore will suffer less abuse. If this was true then child abuse cases should have come down in the decades since abortion was legalized, but have they? It doesn't seem like it is the case here in NZ, going by the increasing abuse statistics that Paula Bennett quotes.

I don't think it is untrue to say that abortion is the ultimate child abuse, and that that mindset opens the door to other abuses. What do you think?

26 comment(s):

bez999 said...

I think you are indeed confusing the issue, but can't decide whether you do it on purpose or not.

Lucia Maria said...

Totally agree with you, Fletch.

What real difference is there between a child in the womb and one that is born? Location and maturity.. that's it.

Therefore once restraint to kill is removed via abortion (the ultimate child abuse), then restraint in the care for any other children will be reduced.

Lucia Maria said...

Need to add, being a parent requires selflessness, while as abortion encourages the opposite - thinking of yourself before the child. Take that thinking into parenting and there will be problems.

Danyl said...

Just to restate your argument, you think there will be less child abuse if people who really, really don't want to have babies are forced to by the state? I've got that right?

I.M Fletcher said...

Danyl, no. I am saying that abortion has such a pervading influence that it affects how society treats it's children.

This is not a very good analogy but imagine that two people could get together and grow a very beautiful type of rose, and that these roses were very much cherished by society.
Now imagine that some people thought that it took too long to grow the roses, and too much effort so they held off growing them by means of special devices they could fit - they liked them, but wanted to wait until later. And still other people started to grow the roses by accident, didn't want them, and so called a gardener around to rip them up. After only a few years, the attitude to roses would change. People won't respect their beauty the same because many see them as a nuisance, and too much work. With this mindset, it would be easy to neglect them - not to water them, to forget about the shadecloth in the summer, to treat them with contempt.

It's kind of the same with babies. This is because of the pervasive feeling in society: if you destroy something before it's born, or stop it being conceived for selfish reasons, you lower it's value. And when you lower the value of something, in it's early (abortion), or late (euthanasia) stages, then the middle stage is devalued also, and treated with contempt.

Even if we got rid of abortion right now - made it illegal - I think it would take a few years still before attitudes to children changed; before they were valued the same as they used to be.

Danyl said...

Danyl, no. I am saying that abortion has such a pervading influence that it affects how society treats it's children.

If you look at the OECD reports on child well-being you see that countries like Ireland and Poland in which abortion are banned also have high rates of child abuse. Why do you think this is?

ropata said...

I'm not sure how outlawing abortion will solve child abuse. I think the brute force of statistics are on Danyl's side. Freakonomics had a radical take on the effect of abortion on lowering the crime rate. The children that are brought to term are more likely to be wanted. Outlawing smacking is more likely to reduce child abuse than outlawing abortion.

Not to say that I support abortion. But the solution to child abuse has to come from changing the underclass and culture of selfishness etc.

Lucia Maria said...

Most women in Ireland who want an abortion can get one if she wants to travel. Likewise in Poland, where abortion was freely available until the Communist regime was finally overthrown.

MrTips said...

Actually the Innocenti Unicef reports rate Ireland as having an unusually low rate of child maltreatment and Poland is in the middle to bottom half of the league tables.

everyone agrees that child abuse is a problem. What they don't agree on is the cause. It is simply wrong to argue that countries with no legal abortion have worse child abuse rates than those that do. In fact Mexico, the USA and New Zealand have the worst child abuse rates and abortion is legal.

Fletch is right - it is the attitude that counts. And the majority of the comfortable middle class who seem to think they know best, think that it is better for "others" to abort their children rather than make the comfortable come out of their cosy existence and actually do something to support their neighbour.

Abortion murders children. And we don;t blink an eye. But when someone puts a child in a dryer and swings them from a clothes line after smashing their skull into a wall we rightly recoil in horror. Why? Because we can;t hide it.

I for one would have more time for those who mock anti-abortion advocates, if they got off their arse and joined those same anti-abortion advocates in helping those struggling with children or family problems. Instead they play scientist and pretend that they understand stats.

scrubone said...

Just to restate your argument, you think there will be less child abuse if people who really, really don't want to have babies are forced to by the state? I've got that right?

And in a parallel universe where it's legal to kill one's spouse there's someone replying to *that* laws opponents that it's a good law, since it avoids people living in miserable relationships.

Murder of the innocent is a solution to nothing. It is an indictment on our society that we allow people - anyone - to argue that it is.

Psycho Milt said...

I am saying that abortion has such a pervading influence that it affects how society treats it's children.

I know you'll find this astonishing and difficult to credit, but many people don't actually consider abortion to be a pervading influence on society that inevitably corrodes our attitude to children, they consider it to be a marginally annoying political football kicked about by extremists. Lindsay was correct to point out that you're confusing two different issues on the basis of no evidence.

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

Just because many people can't or won't connect the dots doesn't mean the dots don't exist. Surely that is obvious?

scrubone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scrubone said...

but many people don't actually consider abortion to be a pervading influence on society that inevitably corrodes our attitude to children,

Many people think [insert common but wrong opnion] also. What does that have to do with the price of eggs?

Your suggestion is absurd. The issue here is not what the majority of folks sitting at home think, it's what those who abuse children think - their attitudes. People here have pointed to the potential for abortion to change those attitudes. They've pointed out that by regarding the lives of children in the womb as disposable and a matter of personal convenience, the lives of children later in life are beginning to be regarded in the same light - it's simply a function of time.

Psycho Milt said...

Your suggestion is absurd. The issue here is not what the majority of folks sitting at home think...

Maybe you missed the quote immediately above my comment?

Just because many people can't or won't connect the dots doesn't mean the dots don't exist.

Sure. That doesn't absolve the person claiming the dots exist from providing some evidence for it. Fletch has commented on Lindsay's post that our application of contraception and occasionally abortion means we have a poor attitude to children, making child abuse more likely. It could be equally plausibly argued that the fact that for most people children are no longer filed under "shit happens" but the result of a planned decision and determination to conceive, they're valued far more than they were previously. It's all just opinion.

The evidence Fletch does present on this thread is unsurprising evidence that people who've had abortions are somewhat more likely to be involved in child abuse - not the same thing as he was saying at Lindsay's place.

Danyl said...

Tips said: Actually the Innocenti Unicef reports rate Ireland as having an unusually low rate of child maltreatment and Poland is in the middle to bottom half of the league tables.

Here's the actual UNICEF Innocenti report:

http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc7_eng.pdf

Whaddya know, Tips is dead wrong. Must be a day ending in 'y'.

MrTips said...

Um, Danyl thats the report on overall child well being in rich countries according to a 6-point scale.

The relevant report for this discussion (child abuse) is this one:

http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/repcard5e.pdf

You really are a cardigan wearing non-event

Doughnut said...

Both issues are being oversimplified, particularly child abuse:

Whilst it's convenient to think of child abuse as one problem with one cause, there are at least three main types of child abuse (physical, sexual, and neglect) which seem to manifest themselves on overlapping but different situations, and which are managed and reported differently by different jurisdictions- e.g. state by state in Australia.

An example of oversimplification is that many child victims of sexual abuse are already in care, and perpetrators may be carers or other individuals being cared for. The complexity is increased by the added factor that many victims and perpetrators 'suffer' from disabilities, in particular learning disabilities and mental health problems. I imagine examples like this are not clearly detailed in WHO or national reports, since this type of information is either restricted for privacy reasons or difficult to link in a formal way.

The threshold for action on child abuse also differs by jurisdiction, and given the ubiquitous resource constraints of child protection organisations, the number confirmed simply relates to the number investigated. In a more recent post you refer to Paula Bennett's suggestion to have greater Iwi involvement in the 'child abuse problem', this would potentially create another source of confounding in the collection of data (although not an argument against the idea- I would be in support of the idea, if it were implemented correctly, by 'experts', not by ignorant and interfering politicians).

It's also been demonstrated that the NZ child protection environment is unique, and amongst your citations you do not list links to any NZ, pacific or Aus studies- Since Melbourne and Queensland are world centres for child protection research and policy, this is surprising and suggests (amongst other reasons) that there is little academic interest in this link. It's also important to point that that even amongst contemporary child protection literature, there is quite a lot they don't agree on- most publicly and controversially is the example of the positive correlation between child abuse and the 'head-injury triad'.

Unfortunately if you were to attempt to commission a study on the link between child abuse and abortion in NZ, I think you would struggle to obtain the data you need- the privacy issues in themselves would be manageable from an ethical point of view and from an organisational point of view (at least within the public sector- NB that abortions do occur in a relatively limited number in NZ within the private 'system'), but the nature of abortion laws in NZ is such that it makes it difficult to audit any relationship between abortion, and services which are not functionally related(organisationally at least)- i.e abortion services and child protection services are usually run separately in NZ; in most centres in NZ, paediatric forensic medicine is integrated with the departments of general paediatrics, and so you would pretty much have to rely on the CYFS database for positive case-by-case correlations, whose systematic categorisation of cases is unclear to the public (i.e. you'd have to figure out whether there there information would be adequate for demonstrating specific cases of your hypothesis). Perhaps moderning NZ's abortion laws would allow you to test your hypothesis?

Doughnut said...

Both issues are being oversimplified, particularly child abuse:

Whilst it's convenient to think of child abuse as one problem with one cause, there are at least three main types of child abuse (physical, sexual, and neglect) which seem to manifest themselves on overlapping but different situations, and which are managed and reported differently by different jurisdictions- e.g. state by state in Australia.

An example of oversimplification is that many child victims of sexual abuse are already in care, and perpetrators may be carers or other individuals being cared for. The complexity is increased by the added factor that many victims and perpetrators 'suffer' from disabilities, in particular learning disabilities and mental health problems. I imagine examples like this are not clearly detailed in WHO or national reports, since this type of information is either restricted for privacy reasons or difficult to link in a formal way.

The threshold for action on child abuse also differs by jurisdiction, and given the ubiquitous resource constraints of child protection organisations, the number confirmed simply relates to the number investigated. In a more recent post you refer to Paula Bennett's suggestion to have greater Iwi involvement in the 'child abuse problem', this would potentially create another source of confounding in the collection of data (although not an argument against the idea- I would be in support of the idea, if it were implemented correctly, by 'experts', not by ignorant and interfering politicians).

It's also been demonstrated that the NZ child protection environment is unique, and amongst your citations you do not list links to any NZ, pacific or Aus studies- Since Melbourne and Queensland are world centres for child protection research and policy, this is surprising and suggests (amongst other reasons) that there is little academic interest in this link. It's also important to point that that even amongst contemporary child protection literature, there is quite a lot they don't agree on- most publicly and controversially is the example of the positive correlation between child abuse and the 'head-injury triad'.

Unfortunately if you were to attempt to commission a study on the link between child abuse and abortion in NZ, I think you would struggle to obtain the data you need- the privacy issues in themselves would be manageable from an ethical point of view and from an organisational point of view (at least within the public sector- NB that abortions do occur in a relatively limited number in NZ within the private 'system'), but the nature of abortion laws in NZ is such that it makes it difficult to audit any relationship between abortion, and services which are not functionally related(organisationally at least)- i.e abortion services and child protection services are usually run separately in NZ; in most centres in NZ, paediatric forensic medicine is integrated with the departments of general paediatrics, and so you would pretty much have to rely on the CYFS database for positive case-by-case correlations, whose systematic categorisation of cases is unclear to the public (i.e. you'd have to figure out whether there there information would be adequate for demonstrating specific cases of your hypothesis). Perhaps moderning NZ's abortion laws would allow you to test your hypothesis?

megan said...

so we should force people who have been raped and fallen pregnant to have the child? or people who can't afford it? the law state you can only have an abortion if you have been raped it will cause mental or money stress. so in saying this if the law is being up-kept it is lower child abuse because these are the kind of people which could breakdown and hurt the children so maybe look from all sides

megan said...

And also the New Zealand Government will support you more if your a single parent putting more pressure on the parent so maybe get them to help families or maybe be in the situation where abortion is the only opinion then maybe you have the right to think this. however if you haven't been though both having a child and having abortion you don't have any idea. I have a child but a had an abortion after had the baby as it would of caused money problems but on top of that I would have had a mental breakdown which would have put the children and me at the risk. My child is nearly four in no way abused so I don't see your point. And also do realise one or two study are not always the full truth and you will never get the full truth. People abuse children because they want to and most are so how the hell does this issue come into play

morganb said...

The writer acts as though abortion is a purely selfish act. Although admittedly people often have abortions for selfish reasons, there are many cases where the parent is thinking of their prospective child.

When a person first falls pregnant, the fertilised egg inside their womb is not yet a child. It is only a small collection of cells with no mind and, so far as I am aware, no conscious feelings. It takes a few weeks for the egg to develop into even the beginnings of a recognisable creature. In this time, the egg is not a child, but rather the possibility of a child. Is having an abortion at this point so very wrong? Every sperm carries the possibility of a child, so if we carry on with the thinking of the writer, every time a female gives a male a "blow job" they have just "killed a baby" and are now likely to abuse their children and value human life less.

I agree that it is wrong to have an abortion once your child is a thinking, feeling creature. But when most parents consider abortion is when the child is still unable to think or feel, just a bundle of cells in the womb. Whether it is wrong to kill off the potential for a child to exist is a personal moral decision and does not have a right or wrong answer.

However, if a person does consider whether or not to have an abortion, they must also consider what sort of life the child will have. Many people do indeed have abortions simply because they are not ready for a child.
But the writer forgets, or perhaps does not notice, that whether a person has a child when they are not able to adequately care for it affects the child just as much as it affect the parent. A single mother with little or no money will perhaps not be able to afford enough food for her child, resulting in stunted growth. A teenage mother with a partner who abuses her will not want her baby to be abused in the same way. If they have an abortion in the aforementioned time, when the cells are still only the potential for a child to exist and not an actual child, does it mean that they will love their children less than an ordinary mother, or that they will care for their children less diligently?

This is a question which every reader must find their own answer to, but I for one think not. To me, it suggests that they love and care for their children just as much as a person in similar circumstances who simply goes through with their pregnancy. They care enough to want a better life for their future children than the one they would get in the current circumstances.

Each case must be judged on its own merits and these are only examples of some situations in which people have abortions. Many people have abortions for selfish reasons, or because they are forced to, and these cases perhaps require different thinking. But I think the writer has stereotyped abortionists unfairly. Many of them are thinking not of themselves, but of their child. I do not see a strong link between child abuse and abortion. Although the writer obviously feels strongly about this subject, he or she seems to have channeled their convictions into the wrong topic.

Lucia Maria said...

MorganB,

If is is morally permissible to kill a child (stuff your potential child crap) when they are not thinking and/or feeling, but is is not morally permissible when they are thinking and/or feeling, then were is the line? In other words, at what moment does it become no longer morally permissible to kill an unborn baby?

Think carefully, now. You need to give a specific gestational date during which a specific milestone is reached.

morganb said...

-Lucia Maria,

I'm afraid I'm not a doctor, scientist, philosopher or religious figure, so I can't speak with authority on this. But from some quick research on the development of a foetus (www.wikipedia.org and http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_fetu.htm) I would suggest that 13-14 days, the period at which the "primal streak", the very first beginnings of the central nervous system, appears, would be the cut off. This is also when the group of cells is referred to as an embryo. Perhaps we should cut this "line" down to 10 days, for safety's sake, in case the "primal streak" develops early, as sometimes happens. Once the streak is developed, I believe that the pre-embryo ceases to be a bunch of cells with only the possibility of growing into a baby and is tied together into a being by the very beginnings of a central nervous system, making it possible for it to have even very basic feelings and therefore possible for it to feel pain or suffer from its abortion.
So I would say that, hypothetically, the development of the "primal streak" would be the line at which it is no longer morally permissible to kill an unborn baby, or ten days from conception if one is unsure whether the streak has appeared or not.
While saying this, I take into account that it must be very difficult for a mother to kill off even the possibility of a child and the decision to have an abortion, morally acceptable or not, must be very hard and is obviously not something to be taken lightly.

-MorganB

morganb said...

PS My apologies for saying that it takes "a few weeks" for a human egg to become a "recognisable creature" in my first comment - after researching the subject I found that it takes less time than that.

ZenTiger said...

so we should force people who have been raped and fallen pregnant to have the child?

So what about the other 99.9% of abortions?

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