Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Washington Post complains that insufficiently many women are dying in childbirth.
Nor, apparently are enough of them dying of cancer or in car accidents. It appears that murder is a leading cause of death of expectant or "new" (whatever that means) mothers.

Are more of these people being killed than other women, or other people, of the same age? Or of some other age? Is there a trend? In amongst the presentation of many different anecdotes, we are told that "no reliable system is in place to track such cases" and that we don't know "how often it happens, why, and whether it is a fluke or a social syndrome." We're told that in one state, "slightly more than 10 percent of all homicides among women ages 14 to 44 happened to a pregnant or postpartum woman". What is this supposed to mean? The Post investigated one group of 72 homicides. We are given no idea how this group was chosen, but we learn that "nearly two-thirds of the cases had a strong relation to pregnancy or involved a domestic-violence clash in which pregnancy may have been a factor" and that "nearly 30 percent were caused by violence that did not seem related to childbearing".

The article is very long and tells us nothing we would like to know. Is a pregnant woman more likely to be murdered than a non-pregnant woman or than an old man? What if we investigate a specially selected group of rich women or poor men that were murdered; would we not find that in many cases the death was related to their wealth or poverty? Should we investigate, for example, the murders of ugly, conservative teenagers to see how much we can write on the subject without actually saying anything?

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