Babies, black dogs and benefits
“Regardless of whether they had children, women without partners were consistently more likely to be clinically depressed, taking antidepressant medication or admitting to suicidal thoughts, according to the first large-scale Australian survey to examine the links between women’s family circumstances and their psychological wellbeing.
But compared with single women without children, lone mothers came off worse on all the same measures, said the nation-wide survey, which was divided into two groups: women in their mid 20s and those in their late 40s to early 50s.”
[…]They were twice as likely to be experiencing suicidal thoughts, and three times as likely to have deliberately hurt themselves in the previous six months compared with women who had a partner but no children.
Single mothers who were as financially secure as those bringing up their children with a partner were still more likely to be depressed, but the gap was considerably narrower – suggesting precarious finances might be a big contributor to the distress experienced by women bringing up children alone.”
Perhaps the mental health of women of childbearing age is adversely affected more by the emotional impact of unplanned pregnancy than actually by the process of abortion. And certainly the lack of a decent welfare net ensuring that single mothers, whether their children were planned or not, have adequate resources to parent their children with confidence isn’t helping the situation.
There’s no single answer to improving this blight on women’s mental health, but certainly the place to start is fewer unplanned pregnancies so that every child is a wanted child and more likely to have two cooperating coparents. Unwanted pregnancies are obviously devastating, which means we cannot tolerate those who wish to restrict teenagers’ access to scientifically valid sex education, who wish to restrict access to contraceptives, and who wish to restrict access to drugs which effect medical abortions. Obviously the broader threats to abortion access at all, such as enacted in South Dakota recently
, must also be rigorously monitored.
And for those women who take on the extraordinary burden of sole parenthood, whether through teenage bravado, moral commitment or the pain of relationship failure, there needs to be better support. Their children are the future taxpayers whose earnings will provide the funds that will support the old-aged-benefits infrastructure when we can no longer support ourselves. (Tangent: providing a welfare safety net to immigrant children is common sense for exactly the same reason)
It’s worth slowing down the consumerist treadmill just a tad – hang on to last year’s model just a while longer before you trade up – in order to provide the tax base of the future with the support they need now in order to learn the skills we will need them to have then. It’s self-interest, folks: it’s just that awful long-term stuff that our pollies don’t want you to be thinking about come election time. But we’re not that stupid, are we?
Categories: culture wars, economics, social justice