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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

November 23rd, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The inevitable has happened.  The woman who claimed Justin Bieber fathered her son in a backstage tryst last year has withdrawn her paternity suit against him.  Here’s the article reporting on that utterly unsurprising event (Today, 11/20/11).

What’s weird, though is that Mariah Yeater’s lawyer claims she’s going to pursue her case “out of court.”  Huh?  I wonder how he intends to do that.  I can’t even figure out what that means.  Maybe she intends to keep making the claim in print until he pays her the money she so plainly thinks she deserves.  But of course he can file his own paternity suit and prove what essentially everyone believes – that he’s not the dad.

Yeater looks to be one of the least believeable people to try to shake down a celebrity.  Bieber’s the third guy she’s named and a previous boyfriend has said she’s out for one thing – as much money as she can get.  She also has a history of violent altercations with male friends that only adds to her lack or trustworthiness.

My guess is that we’ll never hear from Mariah Yeater again unless we pay particularly close attention to the police blotter.

Next up is this from Barbara Kay (National Post, 11/17/11).

This just in from blogger Mollie Hemingway:  “Why do we lie about female fertility?” Hemingway is a wife and mother of two children. She’s now 37 and would like a third child, but realized that at her age easy conception is the exception, nohe goes on to decry the fact that women in our society are lied to about fertility. They are led to believe that they can take years and years to devote to their education and career, deferring marriage and children until they are “ready” – and if they are only “ready” in their mid-thirties or later – no big deal…

Easy conception at an advanced age was certainly the “cultural message” Hemingway received “from school teachers, female faculty teachers and other mentors.” Hemingway didn’t add doctors to that list, but she could have. Doctors know the facts about fertility but for reasons of political correctness, are reluctant to convey them to their patients, as they do not wish to appear ideologically retrograde or judgmental.

But the misinformation about female fertility isn’t just a product of Hemingway’s imagination.  A study conducted for a biopharmaceutical firm shows “that women are woefully ignorant on this existentially gendered subject.”

In the poll of 1000 women aged 25-35 who had discussed fertility with doctors, seven out of ten basic questions about fertility were answered correctly less than half the time. A surprising number of women didn’t know how long it takes to get pregnant or even the fact that fertility declines with age.

So keep in mind that those are women who are likely to be better informed about fertility than most.  After all, they’ve thought about the matter enough to go to a fertility doctor.  They’ve also discussed the matter with that doctor.  So of all people you’d think they’d be the ones to know the most about fertility, and they probably do.  The point being that the study probably understates the level of ignorance about fertility among women generally.

Now, we know that, over the last 40 years, Americans have been putting off marriage more and more.  In 1970, the average age at first marriage for women was a little over 20 and for men a little over 22.  Now the ages are a little over 26 and a little over 28 respectively.  That phenomenon reflects later childbearing as well.

My guess is that ignorance about fertility is one of the factors at work in the rise of single-parent families.  After all, if a woman puts off conception until it’s almost too late, she’ll be less inclined to wait still longer for a suitable partner.  And anecdotally, we see that frequently – women who announce their intention to conceive and give birth without a husband and, often enough, without a father, i.e. via IVF.  Those women likely wouldn’t have to do that if they hadn’t gotten caught unawares by their fertility deadline.

And I don’t have to add that the whole thing is lauded as an act of courage on the part of the mother.  After all, we don’t want to criticize a decision that tends to be bad for the children involved, now do we.

You would think that these basic fertility facts would be an obvious part of any sex education curriculum in high school. But you would be wrong. In our culture, sex education for girls is almost completely focused on maximizing safeguards against conception while maximizing sexual pleasure and liberty.

Well, I’m all for liberty, but as with all kinds of freedom, the sexual kind is better exercised by knowledgeable people. 

The many deficiencies of sex education are beyond the scope of this posting, but, along with teaching girls basic facts about fertility, I’d argue for teaching them basic facts about not having children without a partner and the immorality of lying to men about paternity.  I’d teach them how destructive it is to children to keep fathers out of their lives either during or after marriage.

Those and many other important concepts seem to be obvious topics for sex education classes, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for a curriculum change.

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