I will accept my opponents very narrow view of what a "dead beat" parent is, although such a narrowing of the definition clearly is to his benefit.
My own interpretation of the original topic would include people who are simply chronically financially unable to support their children, even those
who are good and loving parents. This of course would make any argument for the program of forced sterilization much more outrageous and more easily
rebutted. However I feel that even operating under such narrow and unfavorable constraints I can still manage to prove that such a program would be
inherently unfair, expensive, and unnecessarily oppressive, without providing any substantial benefit to either children or society.
My opponent begins his argument for forced sterilization in this next round by comparing the cost to sterilize an individual with the cost to
incarcerate an individual, but does not go on to show the relevence of those particular figures. He closes that portion of the argument with a
conclusion that somehow the fact that sterilization is less expensive per person than incarceration is, a surplus of money would be created if people
were sterilized that could then be used for counseling or out patient style treatments.
Since my opponent has not taken us through the logical process he uses to come to this conclusion, I can only scratch my head at the math. Nowhere
has he shown us that sterilization of dead beat parents will reduce the number of inmates in the U.S., or the cost of caring for them. Without giving
us any estimate of what percentage (if any) of the inmate population he expects to disappear due to any program of forced sterilization, I dont see
how any reasonable claims can be made regarding whether or not there will be some surplus of money created by this program of forced sterilization
that somehow comes out of the prison budget.
So, since my opponent did not offer evidence to support this conclusion, I decided to do a bit of digging on my own. Here is a nice summary of rates
of severe violence towards children done by the National Service for Prevention of Child Cruelty in the UK.
Table 3: USA National Incidence Studies (NIS1, NIS2, NIS3) (PDF, 35KB)
The Table shows that the rate of neglect cases increased most dramatically over the thirteen year period.
The Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire has attempted to measure the incidence of physical abuse in the USA at Layer 4
(Straus, 1979; Straus and Gelles, 1986; Straus et al., 1998). They conducted three nationally representative surveys of American families in 1975,
1985 and 1995 to find out the levels of physical violence used in them. Severe violence to a child was when a parent acknowledged that they, or their
spouse, had 'hit with an object, punched, bitten, kicked, beaten up or used a knife or gun' on their child in the last year. The incidence rates for
severe violence by parents towards their children fell from 140 per 1000 children in 1975 to 107 per 1000 in 1985 and 49 per 1000 in 1995. These rates
are considerably higher than those reported in the three NIS studies. Using the same measures Bardi and Borgogni-Tarli (2001) found a rate of severe
violence by Italian parents to their children of 83 per 1000 children. Ghate et al. (2003) expanded the definition of severe violence to include
'smacking/slapping of the head or face' in their national survey of parental discipline in Britain and found a rate of 90 per 1000 children.
I chose this study out of a desire for the criteria used to determine "child abuse and neglect" to be consistant. The definition varies widely and
all statistics cannot be taken at face value until the underlying criteria is examined. In comparison, in the US data on child abuse, the estimate of
abused children is only 12 children per 1000. To be absolutely fair to my opponent, I am going to use the UK data that suggests a higher rate of
abuse in the US, as this will be the most lenient upon my opponents apparent contention that inmate population is somehow linked in a causal way to
abusive parenting. The US figures are here;
In the UK, the percentage of the population incarcerated is 142 per 100,000. In the US, the percentage of the population incarcerated is 714 per
100,000. You can view the figures here;
Comparing the data, it would appear that the UK has almost twice the rate of serious violence against children, but only 1/5 the rate of
incarceration. Hardly an argument for a causal link between child abuse and incarceration. It may, admittedly, allow some correlation between child
abuse and later incarceration, but correlation does NOT equal causation.
In conclusion, I can find no evidence that a program of forced sterilization would necessarily cause a savings to the US taxpayer via reduction of the
prison population that could be considered a "surplus" with which the costs associated with a program of forced sterilzation and all the legal
expenses that that would generate could be funded. The data simply does not support that claim.
As far as my opponents claim that the recovery for forced sterlization are minor and almost of no consequence, those post surgical care instructions
are for non-complicated procedures. There is, on his own source a list of "risk" involved with the procedure that he fails to introduce into his
argument that include perforation of the intestine, bladder or blood vessels, adhesions that could require surgery, and increased liklihood of ectopic
pregnancy both while sterilized and after reversal, which can be, and is, fatal in some cases. Not to mention that reversal is done under general
anesthesia, and also carries a risk of death. My opponent did not offer any post surgical care instructions for the surgical reversal, perhaps
because the procedure itself is more risky and involved. So, for some, (albiet small,) percentage of women the forced sterilization is likely to be
a death sentance. While child abuse is a heinous crime, and anyone of conscience would be horrified by it, except in the case of fatality, which
would be tried as a murder in any event and dealt with under the current system, I hardly think death is the appropriate sentance for most forms of
abuse. Particularly in light of the fact that under his definition of who qualifies, a non-abusive spouse who may out of fear fail to report would be
equally held accountable.
Using my opponents own figures, he gives the rate of reversal at a high of 82% and a low of 41% for women so at best, 18% of women sterilized under
such a program will permanently have their ability to bear children taken from them. This "best case scenario" is hardly the most likely, however.
Mirco-surgery is required to reverse tubal ligation, and the skill of the surgeon is of utmost importance in determining outcome. It is highly
unlikely that the quality of healthcare provided to these women will be top shelf. This is to be a government program overseen by a bureaucracy we
are discussing here. They are hardly known for their quality of service.
Which brings me to another point. These bureaucracies that we are going to be entrusting this power with, how reliable are they really? Bureaucracies
certainly dont inspire my confidence at the Motor Vehicle Department. Nor do they seem particularly good at determining who has weapons of mass
destruction, or mana. Many of the people most abused by the current
system are not in a financial position to fight them, and lack the
education and basic knowledge of their rights to even realize that that would be a possibility. Despite having the odds stacked against them, there
are times when investigations are done and abuses come to light, such as this investigation in Kentucky.
Under my opponents proposal, that woman would be sterilized, and not only have to fight the injustice of having her children taken from her without
cause, but also would be having to undergo procedures to reverse the sterilization. How many like her are there? How many more would a program like
My opponent closes with a comparison of a prgram of forced sterilization being somehow similar to a death sentance handed down in a murder trial. The
last time I checked, there was a system, though not perfect, that offered jury trials to people accused of murder or other criminal offense. In the US
cases of child abuse are not handled by juries, they are handled in "family court" and so if any comparison is to be made one would have to then
specify that all child abuse accusations be handled like criminal charges and the accused be allowed a trial by a jury of his peers. That will
certainly add to the expense of such a program, and overburden our already backlogged criminal justice system.
Finally, my opponent admits that he has yet to address the issue of economic and gender inequality that I argued in my opening statement is built into
such a program of forced sterilization. I certainly hope that his parting comment that those issues are already in existence in our society was not
his idea of a response. Simply the fact that an injustice is pre-existent does not excuse any culpability on the part of a person or program that
makes that injustice deeper. If someone had been hit by a car, for example, and injured, and then another person seeing this deliberatly ran them
over killing them, who in their right mind would assume the second driver was not liable for the death of the person simply because someone else had
previously hit them? The logic is flawed and I am certain my opponent must have simply been pointing out the existing injustice as a prelude to a more
satisfying response which will be forthcoming.