The Beverly LaHaye Institute has just released data revealing another dimension of the problems facing children when their parents are not married. First, marriage rates have dramatically decreased –– from a high of 149 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 in 1970 to a low of 70 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women in 2005. Further, the percentage of pre-term and low birth weight babies continues –– along with the percentage of non-marital births –– to climb. Specifically, the percentage of pre-term infants has increased by more than 3 percentage points since 1981 –– an increase of one-third from 9.4 percent in 1981 to 12.5 percent in 2004.
Around the world today, "children’s rights" advocates are talking about doing things "for the children." When a politician wants to promote a policy, it is often sold (no matter how tenuous the connection) as being "for the children." Yet, those same liberal advocates typically define "family" as any assortment of caring individuals, and the politicians have failed to support marriage through favorable tax treatment, acting as though marriage were some sort of optional luxury. Yet, there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that women who are not married are at significantly higher risk of having pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.
In most cases, it takes tremendous effort of doctors, nurses and hospitals to keep these little ones alive and then to address their health and breathing problems during the first year of their lives. After they are released from the hospital, these babies frequently have long-term difficulties that affect all of society –– their mental, emotional and behavioral problems are documented in the medical literature. For instance, pre-term births account for nearly one-half of all congenital neurological defects such as cerebral palsy and more than two-thirds of infant deaths.
The politically correct government statisticians stress the need for education and more government programs. But higher levels of education of unmarried women produce only modest decreases in the percentage of pre-term infants. For instance, unmarried women with only 1-3 years of high school have low-birth-weight babies at a rate of 10.4 percent; with four years of college, the rate drops only 1 percentage point to 9.4 percent. Even among unmarried women with some graduate education, their rate does not decline to the level of married high school dropouts, the married group with the highest rates.