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. Of course, deaths in maternity wards occur one by one, and don't generate the national attention, grief and alarm of an explosion in Falluja or a tsunami in Sri Lanka. But they are far more frequent: every day, on average, 77 babies die in the U.S. and one woman dies in childbirth. Bolstering public health isn't as dramatic as spending $300 million for a single F/A-22 Raptor fighter jet, but it can be a far more efficient way of protecting Americans.Apparently Kristof thinks that 'protecting Americans' means something like 'minimizing the number of deaths of Americans'. But I just don't see why this should be so. Isn't it worse for an adult to be killed than it is for an infant to die of natural causes? If you have the resources to either (1) save the life of an American soldier who has been injured in combat or (2) prevent two infants from dying of natural causes within their first year, shouldn't you pick the former? Infant mortality is bad. When a young child dies, it is a tragedy. But I think it's a mistake to spin this as a national security issue.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Infant Mortality as a National Security Issue
God, lots of interesting stuff to write about today. First: Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times today about the U.S. infant mortality rate. Apparently, it's been rising; Kristof dramatically points out that it's now higher than Cuba's. He considers this to be unacceptable, and so do I: the fact that other countries are so much better than we are in that respect is evidence that we could also be better, and therefore we should. But I find some of Kristof's rhetoric surprising. I think he may be taking things a little too far. He writes: