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31.8.04

Protecting Children

Rivka has an interesting post up describing the pregnancy advice industry, and the way it preys on mothers' anxieties about their children to lay down a host of rules, violation of which is threatened with miscarriage or birth defects. As I read it, I felt an echo of the "think of the children" argument that's deployed against same-sex marriage. Anti-SSM pundits threaten dire consequences if a child is raised outside of their ideal two-heterosexual-parent model. People who would decline to comply are portrayed as selfish, putting their own lifestyle and desires above the well-being of the children.

Parents are naturally protective of their children. In part this is a useful instinct, and in part it serves to respect the child's rights (as children aren't able to make informed consent to risky parenting choices). But this protectiveness can go to seemingly irrational extremes -- for example, I know some people who have been arguing that they wouldn't allow their child to sit on an HIV-positive person's lap because of the miniscule risk of the kid catching the disease. And it can be exploited, on the one hand by parenting "experts" looking to sell books, and on the other by culture warriors looking to enforce their moral ideals.

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