"There is something very wrong when a man is good enough to father your children but not good enough to marry and build a life together." -Christelyn Karazin, founder of No Wedding, No Womb
"If you can't get a husband, who am I to tell you no, you can't be a mom?" -Demetria Lucas, relationship editor for Essence magazine, Blogger, A Belle in Brooklyn
In 1991, Tupac told the story of a fictional woman named Brenda, and how her unwed pregnancy "affects the whole community." By the time Fantasia Barrino's 'Baby Mama' hit the airwaves in 2005, many women rid themselves of shame or guilt, and instead sported single motherhood as "a badge of honor."
According to an article in yesterday's Washington Post, 72% of black babies are born to unwed mothers.* Per usual, the rate of this health outcome is higher in the black community than it is in either the white or any minority population. And what's the root of the problem? WaPo offers that it could be because black men constitute the majority of the incarcerated population in the States.** Furthermore, even if a young man doesn't have a record, if he's brought up in a low socioeconomic environment, his education likely won't be enough to get him any occupation paying above the poverty line. So, essentially, we end up with a lot of men who are capable of making kids, but incapable of supporting them.
But we can't just blame the men, can we? Of course not. Not when black women are increasingly adamant on proving themselves as independent women- what do they look like waiting around for a man to start a family? This is a common mentality shared by those who are financially stable enough to support an infant-sized addition to their lives. However, U.S. Census Bureau Statistics show that more often than not, single mother households are not run by mothers with a corner office. Most single black moms have no more than a high school education, and are working class women to whom another mouth to feed is simply an added stress. What other alternative is there but to raise the child as best they can, abortion or adoption?
It's not just an issue of having help, because there are countless friends, grandmothers, or babysitters probably watching babies at this very moment, because mom has to take night classes, or works a double shift to keep food on the table, (or go out to the club, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.) No, the issue is that "...a mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child's life," OB-GYN Natalie Carroll noted in the WaPo article.
As public health professionals, we are supposed to have concern for the greater community, and prevent trends and behaviors that will contribute to allostatic load. Thus, one could ague that allowing women to have babies outside of a monogamous relationship is a failure from a public health standpoint. It is allowing the continued cycle of the proven effects of poverty to endure. The more babies out of wedlock, the more mothers on welfare, the less adequate health care they are able to afford, the more youths getting into a life of crime as a means to survive...and we're right back where we started. So, as supporters of No Wedding No Womb would argue, we need to stop this "problem" at the root. Is it our place to tell a woman not to conceive until she's [happily] married?
You tell me.
*CNN reported this data; their source was the National Center for Health Statistics, who completed the study in 2007
**3,161/100,000 black men were incarcerated in 2008, compared 1,200/100,000 Hispanics, and 487/100,000 whites.