Chart of the day

The divorce rate in Massachusetts before and after gay marriage (the yellow vertical line represents the implementation of gay marriage):

Okay, it’s only short-term, but for now it is quite clear that gay marriage has not destroyed traditional marriage.  Click through to the piece at Slate and you can find similar figures for all the states that allow same-sex unions.  The truth is that opponents make an empirical argument that same-sex marriage actually should lead to fewer marriages and more divorce, and to this point there’s basically zero evidence backing them up.

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My marriage

You know, Kim and I just haven’t been getting along so well lately.  More fights, more acrimony, general dissensus.  But today, it’s as if the fog lifted and our marriage is all butterflies and rainbows.  Why could that be?

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s constitutional amendment slamming the door on same-sex marriages is now in effect, but the debates on its full meaning continue.

The State Board of Elections on Wednesday certified the results of North Carolina’s May 8 primary elections, including the constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman. That step means the ban on gay marriage that was already written into state statutes has also been added to the state constitution, which makes it much harder for lawmakers to change in the future.

Thank you good people of North Carolina for saving my marriage from the scourge of gay couples wanting legal recognition!

Home birth

Interesting article from NYT Magainze about the rise in home births.  It focuses on a woman, Ina May Gaskin, who is one of the few midwives in the country who will vaginally deliver a breech baby.  Now, I’m no expert on such things, but I’ve got to think that back when childbirth was often deadly to women, a lot of those births were breech births.  Is having a “natural” experience really worth risking your and your baby’s life for.  As for home birth, you can actually say the same thing.  Sure most home births are just fine, but when they’re not, there’s a huge downside to not actually be at a hospital.  We have a former neighbor across the street who lost her baby about a year ago during a home birth.  Of course, that could have also happened at a hospital, but a baby born “in distress” as this one apparently was, would have had immediate access to all sorts of high-tech medical care that quite likely could have saved it’s life.  I found this comment on the story from a paramedic particularly compelling:

I am a 15 year veteran firefighter/paramedic who has had to respond to some horrific incidents at birthing/midwifery centers and home births. I have seen babies die because of the choice the parents made to have out-of-hospital births–babies who would not have died if born in hospitals…

The bottom line is that if you choose to have a home birth, you better be prepared for your baby to die due to a lack of immediate neonatal advanced life support medicine if something goes wrong. And when things go wrong there is not a minute to spare.

As a result of my experiences, I urge all my friends and loved ones to give birth in a hospital. Sure use a midwife if you’d like–but have the necessary resources close at hand IF things go south. Why take even a small risk?

From a purely rational cost/benefit perspective, home birth is a horrible idea.  Sure you presumably have the event of this wonderful, “natural” childbirth in a comfortable environment, but if something goes wrong, you are greatly increasing the likelihood of the worst possible outcome any parent can face.

Photo of the day

Very cool set of Big Picture photosof this week’s solar eclipse.  Really hard to pick a favorite, but as a former West Texas (when I was at TTU from 2000-2002), I’m going with this:

An annular eclipse appears, May 20, 2012, north of Odessa, Texas. (Albert Cesare/Odessa American)

The Massachussets health care paradox

We really haven’t heard a lot about MA’s health reform from either side.  Ezra has a nice simple explanation for why:

The reason, perhaps, is that neither campaign sees much upside in bringing them up. As Cohn writes, “nearly everybody in the state has health insurance, while data suggest more people have regular access to care and fewer people face crushing health care costs.” Plus, as you can see in the graph, costs are increasing more slowly than in the rest of the nation. But since that makes Romney look like a good governor and a closet moderate, the Obama campaign has little reason to mention it, and since it makes Obamacare look good, the Romney campaign has little reason to mention it.

That sounds about right to me.

Hung Jury in the Edwards case?

So, a local news station has decided they are going to have a 30 minute live special the evening John Edwards’ verdict comes in and yours truly will be the political “expert.”  I’ve been mentally mulling over potential lines of commentary for days, and I’ve definitely been ready for the hung jury verdict.  As a matter of law, I really don’t think he’s guilty and I don’t think it’s particularly close.  Please, the FEC has not even accused him of a violation.  However, I also think the matter is grey enough that surely at least some of the jurors will be happy enough to punish him for being such a complete cad (which, apparently, was a main focus of the prosecution’s case).  Anyway, since the jury has been out since Friday, there’s increasing speculation that we may be seeing a hung jury:

“It’s starting feel a little more like a marathon than a sprint,” said Raleigh lawyer Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor who attended most of the trial. “Either they’re the most thorough, meticulous, I’m-going-to-look-at-every-document jurors ever to come down the pike, or there’s a little bit of dissension among the group.”

Shanahan said the details of Edwards’ affair with Hunter and their illegitimate child might be clouding the campaign finance issue for some jurors.

“There was much more (testimony) about the salacious details of the affair, and in particular of lying to cover up the affair. It’s just sort of hard for an average person to think about John Edwards and not think about those things,” he said. “When they did start to talk about campaign finance law (during the trial), it almost put you to sleep. It’s just like looking at a tax return.”

Then again, maybe a hung jury just makes a nice story hook:

Federal court juries have deliberated for weeks in other high-profile cases, Shanahan said, so it’s too early to “push the panic button” over a hung jury in the Edwards case.

Still, if I were a betting man (and I would be if not for my wife’s objections) and bet on the hung jury.

The complexity of public opinion on abortion

I’ve long been intrigued by just how complicated opinions on abortion (in fact, I’m a published author on the topic) are in contrast to the way over-simplified way in which the issue is typically discussed and reported.  Take the headline to the latest Gallup survey on abortion:

“Pro-Choice” Americans at Record-Low 41%

And I’m sure there will be some equally breathless headlines.  Here’s the chart:

U.S. Adults' Position on Abortion

Yet, let’s dig a little deeper, what do Americans actually think about abortion policy:

Trend: Circumstances Under Which Abortion Should Be Legal

That’s right, holding steady as it generally does.  And it’s been a while since I looked at the figures, but you’d be surprised at just how “pro-choice” policy-wise people who self-identify as “pro-life” can be (and vice versa)24.

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