Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Bump+

The Internet TV show, Bump+ is up and running. The Party reveals more about Hailey, Katie, and Denise, and follows their individual stories as they struggle to make a decision about their unintended pregnancies.  New episodes will follow every Monday and Thursday through March 15, 2010.  And of course, the conversation between viewers continues around the clock.

German Homeschooling Family Granted Asylum in the US

A US judge granted political asylum to a German homeschooling family that is in danger of losing their children to the state.
Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman, of Memphis, Tennessee, said: “We can’t expect every country to follow our constitution. The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.” He observed: “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution… therefore, they are eligible for asylum…”
Author Gerald Warner comments:
Those last remarks might have been uttered in 1933. Do we truly realise the significance of what has happened? Do we understand that, as citizens of the European Union, we now belong to a totalitarian state from which fleeing citizens are being granted political asylum in the United States? Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, tyranny is back in business in Germany. Judge Burman added that the scariest thing about this case was the motivation of the German government. He said that, rather than being concerned with the welfare of the children, it was trying to stamp out parallel societies. Making his court order, the judge voiced concern that, although Germany was a democratic country and an ally, the policy of persecuting homeschoolers was “repellent to everything we believe as Americans”. That offers a useful insight into how Americans, living in a free country, view the creeping totalitarianism that has engulfed Europe. For this is not just a German issue: we are all helots under state control. Why did the German homeschoolers not seek political asylum in Britain? Because our rulers subscribe to the same tyrannical statist philosophy, is the answer. Every possible obstacle is put in the way of homeschooling parents in Britain. The mentality is that the state – not parents – is the natural controller and shaper of children’s lives and beliefs. When a schoolgirl can be given an abortion without her parents’ knowledge, we know that, while public utilities may have been privatised, children have been nationalised.
I might add that the competition for children is so fierce precisely because there are so few of them.  The vast state bureaucracies are managed by child-less or one-child technocrats with no time for children of their own.  Their best, and maybe only, hope for influencing the future of society is to get a grip on other people's children.

Abstinence Only program, delays sexual activity

I wonder why we haven't heard anything about this study from the University of Pennsylvania Med School? Sixth and seventh grade African American students were randomly sorted into a control group, an abstinence only class, a safer-sex class and a combined abstinence plus safer sex class.
an abstinence-only intervention for pre-teens was more successful in delaying the onset of sexual activity than a health-promotion control intervention. After two years, one-third of the abstinence-only group reported having sex, compared to one-half of the control group. The study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania appears in the February 1 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. While abstinence-only intervention did not eliminate sexual activity all together, this is the first randomized controlled study to demonstrate that an abstinence-only intervention reduced the percentage of adolescents who reported any sexual intercourse for a long period, in this case two years, following the intervention. "It is extremely important to find an effective intervention that delays sexual activity; the younger someone is when they have sex for the first time, the less likely they are to use condoms," said lead author John B. Jemmott III, PhD, professor of Communication in Psychiatry and of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and Annenberg School for Communication. "Abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in delaying sexual activity until a time later in life when the adolescent is more prepared to handle to consequences of sex. This can reduce undesirable consequences of sex, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS."... Researchers determined that none of the interventions had significant effects on consistent condom use or unprotected sex. For those who lost their virginity during the two year study, there was no difference in consistent condom use between the abstinence-only intervention and the control group. The abstinence-only intervention was based on principles shown to be effective in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, and did not use a moralistic tone or portray sex in a negative light. It encouraged abstinence as a way to eliminate the risk of pregnancy and STIs. During the 8-hour abstinence-only session, study facilitators used brief and interactive small group activities to build the pre-teens' knowledge of HIV and STIs, bolster beliefs supporting practicing abstinence, and improve skills and confidence to help negotiate abstinence and resist pressure to have sex. The researchers noted that, in the United States, the consequences of early sexual involvement – including HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancies – are especially great among African American adolescents. An effective abstinence-only intervention could stave off unwanted consequences until adolescents mature and are prepared to handle the consequences of sex.
You would think this would make the news, especially since just last week, the Usual Suspects blamed abstinence programs for the slight rise in teen pregnancy in 2006.

Speaking at Stanford tomorrow

On February 2, 2010, I will be at Stanford, debating the topic, "Is Christianity Compatible with Capitalism? Altruism v. Egoism."  My debate opponent will be Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute.  The debate is jointly sponsored by the Objectivists of Stanford and the Catholic Community at Stanford. The debate will begin at 7:30, and will be held in Building 320, Room 105. I hope to see you there!

Reengineering the Family

Heather MacDonald has an outstanding article in National Review on the impact of artificial reproductive technology on the family.
Every time a homosexual couple conceives a child, there is another parent offstage somewhere whose sperm or egg has allowed conception to occur (and, in the case of male homosexuals, whose womb has allowed gestation to occur). In some homosexual families, that parent will be involved in his child’s life; in others, he will remain completely anonymous and unknown. Parental identity and responsibility for children in a homosexual family do not flow from biology; they result from choice and intent....
My only beef with this article is with this paragraph:
The institutionalized severing of biology from parenthood affirms a growing trend in our society, that of men abandoning their biological children. Too many men now act like sperm donors: they conceive a children then largely disappear, becoming at best intermittent presences in their children’s lives. This phenomenon is increasingly common among the less educated, and dominates in the black community. Too many children — including the great majority of black children and large numbers of children of struggling working-class mothers — are now raised in single-parent homes; many do not even know who their fathers are. The negative consequences of this family breakdown for children include higher rates of school failure and lack of socialization. Moreover, in a culture where men are not expected to raise their children, boys fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility and self-discipline.           
My beef with the italicized sentence is that the problem with Artificial Reproductive Technology is not so much that men are abandoning their children, as that women are kicking men out of the family.  For the growing Single Mothers by Choice movement, the intent to keep father out of the family is the defining feature.  And the no-fault divorce revolution has a large element of kicking men out of family, not just the "dead-beat dads," who get so much press. In some families, the woman initiated the divorce. And if there is little of the abuse or infidelity reasons that used to constitute "cause" for divorce, that means that in at least some homes, the wife initiates the divorce with little that would have passed muster as "cause." Hence, my discomfort with blaming the trend toward fatherlessness all on the men.  But I digress. MacDonald's article is really outstanding, including this concluding gem:
gay marriage moves the separation of parental status and biology to the center of the marriage institution. To be sure, most of the attributes of gay procreation and gay marriage can be found individually in other family structures. But those attributes — most important, the absence of a child’s biological father or mother from his life — have been considered exceptions and second-best solutions to the norm for child-rearing. (Contrary to gay-marriage proponents’ favorite rhetorical strategy, the existence of an exception does not mean that a norm or rule does not exist.) When gays procreate and marry, all those exceptions become the rule. To the extent that you worry about, rather than celebrate, the dissolution of biological ties between parents and children, gay marriage could be a straw that you are reluctant to add to the camel’s back.
I have to say that I have made many of these points myself, in a variety of contexts, including in my four part lecture series, Same Sex Marriage Affects Everyone, lectures 2 and 3.  But I am delighted to have an author of Heather MacDonald's talent weigh in on these important questions.

Dr J's podcast on Oprah and Bristol

Oprah was dumbfounded by Bristol Palin's abstinence pledge.  I analyze both women in this new podcast.  You and I know that if Bristol had said, "I want to be president of the US," Oprah would not have said, "Aren't you setting yourself up for failure?"  But that is exactly what she said when Bristol voiced her determination to abstain from sex until she gets married.

Maggie weighs in on the new study...

Maggie Gallagher reacts to the new study purporting to show that the gender of parents doesn't matter to the well-being of children.
Back in the 1990s, when I went into the public square and said, "Marriage really matters because children need a mom and a dad," I wasn't permitted to rest my case on vague generalities — I was required to produce data. Mounds of data, in fact. We have no scientific evidence at all, that I know of, that children raised by same-sex couples benefit if their unions are legally considered marriages.Why is that now self-evident? Why is no data at all required of people proposing novel family forms, while anyone advocating for something traditional requires mounds of scientific data to get a hearing in the public square?... I do not think same-sex marriage will serve child well-being in any appreciable way, and I don't think there is much sign that that is the goal.... Same-sex marriage is primarily an attempt to serve the dignity interests of gay people. It represents the government's good housekeeping seal of approval on the idea that their relationships are the same as anyone else. Let's not fool ourselves; we're not doing this for the kids.
Read it all here.

Politics Illustrated: Social and Fiscal Conservatives

David Boaz at Cato and Ramesh Ponnuru at NRO are going back and forth on whether social conservatives or fiscal conservatives are more significant to the general conservative coalition and Republican Party.  (I guess that is the sub-text.)  I have a couple of things to add: 1. Social conservatives in Congress tend to be more reliable voters for fiscal conservative issues than the reverse. 2. I personally believe there is no conflict between social conservatism and fiscal conservatism, as I have argued many times, most recently in the Heritage volume Indivisible. 3. If you want to see the future of the conservative coalition, go look at the photos from the Tea Party in San Diego and the photos from the Walk for Life in San Francisco.  Nothing against the Tea Party people, of course, but the average age of the Tea Party people was probably 45 at least.  The average age of the (40,000) Walkers for Life in San Francisco was closer to 30. Look at our albums, here, and here, and the official Walk for Life page. If you include the Babies in Strollers for Life, the average age probably drops by a couple of years! I'm betting there's a lot of Life in the social side of the conservative coalition!  

Same Sex unions less monogamous: NYT

No, this headline did not come from me, or NOM, or any other advocate of natural marriage. The NYT, well-known social conservative mouth-piece, reported:
When Rio and Ray married in 2008, the Bay Area women omitted two words from their wedding vows: fidelity and monogamy.... As the trial phase of the constitutional battle to overturn the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage concludes in federal court, gay nuptials are portrayed by opponents as an effort to rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony. Quietly, outside of the news media and courtroom spotlight, many gay couples are doing just that, according to groundbreaking new research.
And where did that "groundbreaking new research" originate? At that well-known right-wing, Christian university, San Francisco State:
New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners. That consent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”... None of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it. Of the dozen people in open relationships contacted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, citing privacy concerns. They also worried that discussing the subject could undermine the legal fight for same-sex marriage. 
 So, is it considered bad manners for me to bring this up?  We actually refrained from bringing up stuff like this during the Prop 8 campaign, because we did kind of think it was bad manners. However, since the NYT brought it up, and since Joy Behar brought it up on The View, can we talk about it now?

Statement from Andy Pugno

The Catholics for the Common Good website reports this statement from Ron Prentice and Andy Pugno:
“What may be lost in all the sensationalism of the past two and a half weeks of trial is that the burden of proof to invalidate Prop 8 lies squarely with the plaintiffs. They cannot win unless they prove that the voters were "irrational" when they chose to preserve the traditional definition of marriage in our state. Contrary to their public relations claims, the outcome of this case does not depend on whether the Prop 8 sponsors can prove that homosexual marriage will harm traditional marriage. The controlling legal issue is not whether homosexual marriage is good or bad, but ratherwhether the people have the right to decide what is best. The plaintiffs simply did not carry that burden. “Meanwhile, we have shown that limiting marriage to its longstanding definition is rational because marriage benefits children, not just the adults. Whenever possible, it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father. And man-woman marriage is the only human relationship that can biologically serve that distinctive purpose. A same-sex relationship can never offer a child both a mother and father. It's that simple. “The plaintiffs put on a spectacular show-trial of irrelevant evidence, calling to the stand many "expert" witnesses to testify that allowing homosexual marriage would: help local governments raise more tax revenues, help gay and lesbian couples to accumulate greater wealth, and improve the self-esteem of homosexuals. But those are political arguments for society to consider, not legal support for the claim that the US Constitution contains the right to homosexual marriage. The is simply not the proper forum for what is clearly a social, not a legal, appeal.”

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