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tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

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Hoyden About Town

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2006-03-21

Babies, black dogs and benefits

Well now, isn't this study an interesting bookend with the New Zealand study that caused a press stir a few months ago when it showed a correlation between mental illness and abortion of pregnancy. An Australian study has shown that single mothers have much worse mental health than other women.
"Regardless of whether they had children, women without partners were consistently more likely to be clinically depressed, taking antidepressant medication or admitting to suicidal thoughts, according to the first large-scale Australian survey to examine the links between women's family circumstances and their psychological wellbeing.

But compared with single women without children, lone mothers came off worse on all the same measures, said the nation-wide survey, which was divided into two groups: women in their mid 20s and those in their late 40s to early 50s."

[...]They were twice as likely to be experiencing suicidal thoughts, and three times as likely to have deliberately hurt themselves in the previous six months compared with women who had a partner but no children.

Single mothers who were as financially secure as those bringing up their children with a partner were still more likely to be depressed, but the gap was considerably narrower - suggesting precarious finances might be a big contributor to the distress experienced by women bringing up children alone."

Perhaps the mental health of women of childbearing age is adversely affected more by the emotional impact of unplanned pregnancy than actually by the process of abortion. And certainly the lack of a decent welfare net ensuring that single mothers, whether their children were planned or not, have adequate resources to parent their children with confidence isn't helping the situation.
There's no single answer to improving this blight on women's mental health, but certainly the place to start is fewer unplanned pregnancies so that every child is a wanted child and more likely to have two cooperating coparents. Unwanted pregnancies are obviously devastating, which means we cannot tolerate those who wish to restrict teenagers' access to scientifically valid sex education, who wish to restrict access to contraceptives, and who wish to restrict access to drugs which effect medical abortions. Obviously the broader threats to abortion access at all, such as enacted in South Dakota recently, must also be rigorously monitored.
And for those women who take on the extraordinary burden of sole parenthood, whether through teenage bravado, moral commitment or the pain of relationship failure, there needs to be better support. Their children are the future taxpayers whose earnings will provide the funds that will support the old-aged-benefits infrastructure when we can no longer support ourselves. (Tangent: providing a welfare safety net to immigrant children is common sense for exactly the same reason)

It's worth slowing down the consumerist treadmill just a tad - hang on to last year's model just a while longer before you trade up - in order to provide the tax base of the future with the support they need now in order to learn the skills we will need them to have then. It's self-interest, folks: it's just that awful long-term stuff that our pollies don't want you to be thinking about come election time. But we're not that stupid, are we?

5 comments:

morgan said...

The financial and personal space issues make it hardly surprising. It puts this US court case in perspective, too.

Thanks for the Paddy's Day wishes, btw, hope you enjoyed your Guinness.

tigtog said...

It will be interesting to see how that US court case turns out: I suspect that the court will come down on the side that a father cannot sever parental rights to a born child any more than a woman can, short of both agreeing to relinquish the child for adoption.

His argument that a woman can decide to end a pregnancy and thus her financial responsibility for her child so why can't a man do the same is irrelevant to responsibility for a born child. The biological fact that women actually hold the final veto power on pregnancy does not constitute discrimination against men.

The State has an interest in ensuring that estranged fathers pay as much support for their children as possible simply to lessen the taxpayer burden. When a woman chooses to abort a pregnancy the State does not have to support that child, if a man attempts to forgo child support the State has to step in.

Dubay and his sympathisers simply will not find as much support from legislators once this has been driven home as they are expecting, no matter how much the wingnut pollies want to punish sluts.

tigtog said...

And the Guinness was lovely - I must have it more often.

morgan said...

Yeah, I think Dubay is screwed :)

The idea of him being able to forego responsibility for his actions would be unbelievable given the financial cost to the State, but also ethically. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

tigtog said...

Twisty's current post has better answers and comments on the Dubay suit than I can manage today. *sniffle* *head-cold*