Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Strangled in Its Crib 

From our distinguished colleague Generik comes news that Republican Delegate John Cosgrove of Virginia has withdrawn his fetal-death notification bill. He utilized the occasion to denounce opponents who had undertaken an "active campaign of misrepresentation" by quoting the text of the proposed legislation directly, despite Mr. Cosgrove's repeated and extremely patient assurances that the bill did not in fact mean what it explicitly said.

We see a great future for Mr. Cosgrove in Southern (or should we say Southron) academia, where there is an entire cottage industry devoted to correcting the equally absurd misrepresentation that the Civil War had anything much to do with slavery.

UPDATE (1/12): On a related note: you may be aware that the U.S., as a result of spending vastly more per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, finished a strong 37th in the World Health Organization's 2000 survey of healthcare quality. We are indebted to our steadfast colleague Rorschach (a preliminary Koufax nominee for Blog Most Deserving of Wider Recognition) for pointing out that in the area of infant mortality, America -- which traditionally ranks at or near the bottom of industrialized nations -- is losing even more ground under Bush:
If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year.

Yes, Cuba's. Babies are less likely to survive in America, with a health care system that we think is the best in the world, than in impoverished and autocratic Cuba. According to the latest C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of 41 countries that have better infant mortality rates than the U.S.

Even more troubling, the rate in the U.S. has worsened recently.

In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: 7 babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before.

Those numbers, buried in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, didn't get much attention. But they are part of a pattern of recent statistics dribbling out of the federal government suggesting that for those on the bottom in America, life in our new Gilded Age is getting crueler . . . .

If we had a rate as good as Singapore's, we would save 18,900 babies each year. Or to put it another way, our policy failures in Iraq may be killing Americans at a rate of about 800 a year, but our health care failures at home are resulting in incomparably more deaths - of infants. And their mothers, because women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe.

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