Monday, May 14, 2007

The decline of motherhood

As we celebrate Mother's Day, we should pause to consider the social factors that keep more and more women from having children

Hiking along the northern reaches of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast last week, my sister and I passed by the home of a woman recently taken by cancer. As dignified deaths go, it was exemplary. Predeceased by her husband, her care was assumed in turns by her four grown children. She died peacefully, surrounded by them and her beloved ocean views.

For the generation that's brought Canada's fertility rate to below replacement levels, such idylls can only become increasingly rare. With 1.5 children per couple, our best hope is a quiet death in a clean facility where the immigrant workers speak our language. And that's only the human face of demographic decline. The economic face is hardly more appealing: unfilled labour markets, reduced GDP and no tax revenues to pay for health care -- to name a few.

Canada isn't the only country in this predicament. According to America Alone, Mark Steyn's self-described and penetrating rant on "demography, Islam and civilizational exhaustion," the developed world has gone from 30 per cent to 20 per cent of global population. Greece has 1.3 births per couple -- the "lowest low" from which no society has ever recovered; Russia, where 60 per cent of pregnancies are terminated, has the fastest-growing rate of HIV in the world and, by 2050, 60 per cent of Italians will have no brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts or uncles. In the developed world, only the United States, with a 2.1 birth rate, is replacing itself.

How did it come to this? In Canada, one answer is infertility. This affects one in every 15 Canadian couples (in Britain one in six are affected), who spend some $30 million a year on in-vitro fertilization alone. Defined as failure to conceive after one year of trying, infertility can result from many factors affecting both males and females, but according to the government of Canada's Biobasics website, the two biggest factors are delayed childbearing and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Today, mothers giving birth average 29.5 years of age. Since women are born with a given number of eggs that decline in quality and quantity from the age of 30, it is no surprise that for the growing proportion of 30-plus women attempting pregnancy, it is much more difficult to conceive and carry a child. Compounding the problem, earlier and increased sexual activity means a greater likelihood for contracting gonorrhea or chlamydia. In women, pelvic inflammatory disease and, in turn, blocked fallopian tubes or ectopic pregnancy may result. In men, sterility is possible. According to, rates of STD infection are up 60 per cent since 1997, with girls between the ages of 15 and 19 incurring the highest rates. In 2003, 20,000 new cases of chlamydia were reported in Canada.

Some infertility problems are preventable, but larger social and economic forces make it difficult. Industrialized food production and environmental degradation are taking their tolls. Most recently, a Harvard School of Public Health study implicated trans fats while another from the University of Rochester has raised yet more questions about hormone-treated beef. Clear connections exist between obesity and ovulatory cysts. Combined with the genetic complications already associated with delayed pregnancies, concerns about the ability of future generations to reproduce are valid. Ominously, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is calling for genetic testing of all pregnant women, not just those over 35.

Nor do infertility statistics take into account those deciding not to have children or those resigned to missing the boat. On this front, Mark Steyn blames the "progressive agenda" -- abortion, gay marriage, endlessly deferred adulthood -- and he's right. He doesn't get into many specifics but they are easily identified. In the U.S., 48.5 million abortions since Roe v. Wade only slightly exceeds the estimated 47 million civilians lost in the Second World War. And, as the University of Calgary's Rainer Knopf predicted, gay marriage means any public distinction between procreative and non-procreative sexuality is now totally abandoned. The latest sad example? A hero's welcome on MTV for porn king and intersexual sodomy "expert" Ron Jeremy.

So we pump our young with pills, wrap them in condoms and, coming soon, jab them with vaccines hoping to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STDs and, now, cervical cancer. This in the name of denying their capacity for personal responsibility by advocates who wouldn't shake hands with each other if they had a cold.

In other words, the infantilization continues and the price tag increases. Fertility clinics offer hope, but a growing number of ethicists confirm that any rearguard action by science produces as many problems as it solves. Will Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, newly opened in Vancouver to deal with such problems, also address infertility prevention? Who will?

Universal screening may be the only solution for the STD epidemic. And if smoking can be stigmatized, so can other behaviours. Cleaning up our air, water and food and, while we are at it, the airwaves too, would also help. Those who want pornographic services should be required to fetch them elsewhere.

Parents need meaningful support from civil society as well as government. Housing prices that require two incomes make starting a family untenable -- a problem exacerbated by immigration policies that raise real estate prices while ostensibly compensating for the children we aren't producing. But within one generation, immigrants adopt our reproductive habits. Oh, and have an especially happy Mother's Day. Soon, there may be few mothers left to celebrate.


'Alternative family' killing Europe?

In the late 1960s, warnings of a "population" bomb that would doom Earth's inhabitants spawned movements of fervent activists prone to wag a finger at strolling couples with multiple offspring in tow. Nearly 40 years later, crunching the demographic numbers reveals a looming catastrophe - but of the completely opposite kind, some contend.

Conveyors of a major world gathering commencing today in the Polish capital argue Europe - the progenitor of Western civilization - is on a steep population decline that will make the continent increasingly hard to recognize in the coming decades. With plunging birthrates coinciding with rejection of the "natural family" that for millennia has anchored cultures worldwide, a "demographic winter" is descending over Europe, contends Allan C. Carlson, founder and international secretary of the World Congress of Families, hosting more than 3,500 delegates from 75 nations through Sunday. Prague was the site of the first congress in 1997, followed by Geneva in 1999 and Mexico City in 2004.

"If Europe is lost to demographic winter and radical secularism, much of the world will go with it," says Carlson and the international team that planned the event. Meanwhile, into the vacuum comes a flood of Muslim immigrants led by many on a mission to spread the rule of Islam over the planet, writes Mark Steyn in his book "America Alone." The result already is becoming clear, Steyn insists: "Europe will be semi-Islamic in its politico-culture character within a generation." In his book, Steyn warns one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history already is making our views of European outdated. While it takes a fertility rate of at least 2.1 for a nation to replenish itself, countries known for big families, such as Greece and Spain, have fertility rates of 1.2 and 1.1 respectively.

By 2050, Steyn says, 60 percent of Italians, for example, will have no brothers, no sisters, cousins, no aunts, no uncles. "The big Italian family, with papa pouring vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs," he writes.

But in Warsaw this weekend, an optimistic gathering of activists says it's looking "beyond demographic winter," promoting the "natural family" as the "springtime of Europe and the world." The World Congress says it is buoyed by the fact "courageous pro-family champions and organizations exist in every European country, even in hotbeds of militant secularism such as France, Sweden and Spain."

Several recent members of the European Union have elected strong "pro-family governments," including Poland, Latvia and Slovakia. "Poland saved Europe before" by lifting the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and helping to demolish the Soviet empire three centuries later and it is likely "she will save Europe again," the World Congress planners hope - though not without inevitable backlash from the European Union. Legislation, for example, recently proposed by Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych that limits "homosexual propaganda" in schools was met with a resolution of condemnation in April by the European Parliament 325-124, with 150 abstentions. Arguing for his bill, Giertych, who will address the congress today, explained: "One must limit homosexual propaganda so that children won't have an improper view of the family."

During debate on the European Parliament resolution, deputies described the Polish legislation as "repulsive" and "hateful." These "diatribes ... must stop," said member Rour Martine. "These are not Europe's values." World Congress founder Carlson countered "normalization of homosexuality is a value of Europe's elite." "The 'values' of a majority of the European Parliament are one reason Europe has the lowest birthrates in the world," he said. "If it had a self-preservation instinct, the EP would be promoting the natural family, instead of castigating Poland for its defense of family values."

The Congress has a counterpart, in fact, the Council on Contemporary Families, which says it seeks to "deinstitutionalize marriage" and affirm an increasing number of women who choose not to marry and have children. Carlson contends "the failure of CCF's vision can be seen in the family crisis in Europe." "Due to the Euro-elite's embrace of the CCF's anti-family ethic, fewer and fewer Europeans are marrying and having children," he said. "Those who do are choosing 'egalitarian unions,' where the emphasis is on self-fulfillment, rather than having and nurturing children. As a result, the European family is disappearing."

In March, 19 members of the European Parliament urged a State Department official scheduled to speak at the Congress today to withdraw. Ellen Sauerbrey, appointed by President Bush as the U.S. assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, will address a plenary session on "Promoting Strong Families As A Policy Goal."

A letter from the parliament members March 28 told Sauerbrey: "We urge you to withdraw from this conference because your participation provides an official U.S. government stamp of approval to extremist and intolerant views held by some participants and attendees. These extremist and intolerant views include prejudiced attitudes toward foreigners, people from other religions, homosexuals, and the inclusive vision of what represents a family unit that has been developed by the United Nations and the European Union." Sauerbrey, who spoke at the Mexico City Congress, says the World Congress of Families has had "a huge impact" by the "networking of people around the world with shared values and concerns about the deterioration of the family structure."

Meanwhile, a think tank in the UK published a report this week that urged Britons to have fewer children in order to help save the world from what it sees as the biggest threat to civilization, "global warming." "The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet," said John Guillebaud, co-chairman of Optimum Population Trust, "would be to have one less child."


Opening a racial Pandora's Box in California

Post lifted from American Thinker . See the original for links

Yesterday, America moved one baby step closer to apartheid, a society in which racial groups are officially considered unequal and consigned to their own separate spheres under the law. California's supreme court granted a temporary stay in a murder trial about to begin, on the unprecedented ground that the county where the crime took place and the trial was to be held does not have enough residents of the same color as the defendant, who is black. In other words, the underlying theory is that a defendant may be entitled to a jury of his or her own race, at least in some as yet undetermined minimal percentage. No showing is exclusion of jurors on the ground of race need be shown if a change of venue is granted. Mere demography could become a criterion in presumed prejudice.

Since we are guaranteed a jury of our peers, if the stay is upheld and a change of venue required by the California supremes, the justices would in effect be ruling that being of a different race can make one not a peer and unable to judge fairly in the eyes of the law. From this sort of ruling one can logically derive many corollaries establishing in law the principle that we are not in fact all equal irrespective of race. This case looks like a genuine Pandora's Box.

The details are complicated: the man on trial, Renato Hughes of San Francisco, did not kill anyone. He was one of three persons who allegedly robbed a pot dealer in rural Lake County and severely beat a child living in the alleged dealer's home, inflicting permanent brain damage. One of the victims then shot and killed two alleged accomplices. Under California's provocative act" murder doctrine, which holds accomplices responsible if their partners are killed while committing a crime, Hanlon faces murder charges. But these legal complexities are not the basis of the temporary stay.

Hughes' attorney, San Francisco lawyer Stuart Hanlon, requested a change of venue purely on the basis of the what the San Francisco Chronicle describes as the

"racial imbalance" of overwhelmingly white Lake County -- a land where dirt roads and double-wides coexist with wine country aspirations.

While the snide double-wide verbiage, redolent of scorn for less affluent Caucasians as rednecks, is employed by Chron writer Patricia Yollin, I find the statements of Hanlon troubling for signs of the same bigoted invidious stereotypes based purely on race.

"There are few black people in Lake County, so people rely on stereotypes," said defense attorney Stuart Hanlon of San Francisco. [....]

In an emergency request filed May 4 with the state Supreme Court, Hanlon wrote, "Lake County, a primarily Caucasian community in a rural setting, is presented with its greatest fear: a young, black male from a big city, coming to their town and invading one of their residents in the middle of the night, attacking his family, his girlfriend, 11-year-old daughter and two sons."

Hanlon even attributed the recent influx of city people to Lake County (where real estate prices are comparatively low, but which is reasonably close to the Bay Area and scenic to boot) to "white flight." Given the realtively small percentage of blacks in the Bay Area's population, and the obvious economic and lifestyle appeal of Lake County, this is ludicrous and evidence of racial prejudice on Hanlon's part.

I hope that Supreme Court speedily vacates this stay and allows Hughes to be judged by a jury of his peers in the location where the crime occurred. To do otherwise takes us down the path where only blacks can judge blacks and whites can judge whites. And if one happens to be Tiger Woods, one cannot be tried by any jury, unless 12 Cablanasians can somehow be rounded up.

The Zionism equals racism scam

Alex Grobman's "Nations United, How the United Nations Undermines Israel and the West", looks at the history of this remarkable fraud and how the UN came to vote on it. It is a story of how the Soviet Union used Israel as a pawn in its war with the west, beginning with its initial backing of the Jewish state when the area was still part of the British mandate. That backing included allowing Czechoslovakia to supply military equipment to the Jews who reestablished Israel as a state.

Later the success of Israel contrasted with the lack of success of its client Arab states that purchased weapons from the Soviets in great quantity caused the Soviets to switch sides and it was they who first pushed the Zionism as racism trope. The allegation was ridiculous on its face, but that did not stop the UN from adopting a resolution saying that.

Thus from the successors to the fraudulent Elders of Zion, came the sequel in the form of a UN resolution condemning a state that they had helped reestablish itself.

The Arabs were all over the resolution and angry at the US for saying it was an infamous act and a lie. The Saudi ambassador to the UN was indignant about the Balfour agreement that recognized an Israeli homeland and President Truman's backing of Israel and he was not too happy about God either.


As to the Jewish claims that God gave them Palestine because they are "exclusive," he wondered "since when is God in the real estate business...? Show us the title deed. And since when did He give M. Balfour and Mr. Truman powers-of-attorney to transfer land that does not belong to them? ... I don't think that any of the Zionist have direct or indirect communication with God Almighty.


It probably never occurred to him to ask the same question about the Palestinian claim on the land. The competing parties for the land both saw the other as squatters. If one were relying on real estate law, both would now claim their title through adverse possession, if they ignored the deed set forth in the Bible. Since the Israelis are now in possession under that doctrine it is theirs.

Other slanders followed including the one embraced by Jimmy Carter that the Israelis had created an apartheid society. This is in the face of the Palestinians who do not want any Jews living in their neighborhood at all, and States like Saudi Arabia that want even let Jews enter the country much less have houses of worship. In the Middle East the apartheid is practiced by the Muslim religious bigots in several Arab countries.

Alex Grobman has compiled an interesting read in a relatively short volume. If he does a sequel, I would like to see more information about how the UN has been responsible for creating dependency by the Palestinians that has robbed them of any enterprise of value and left them with their most significant product being human ordinance sending their young people out to explode next to Jews.

The Palestinians are in desperate need of "welfare reform" that would get them off the charity dole and put them to work creating something of value. Right now the UN and the NGO's are subsidizing terrorism, and they are doing no favor for the Palestinians.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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