When Vice Presidential Dan Qualye famously noted the fictional character Murphy Brown (played by Candice Bergan) mocked a father’s role in the family by choosing to have a child without a father, he was a target. He quickly became a target of Women’s Rights groups who saw his comments as either a threat or lifestyle disapproval. They said he was out of touch and behind the times, if not a full-fledged chauvinist.
All the Vice President was saying, however, was the portrayal of the “lifestyle choice” by Murphy Brown was diminishing the general value and perception of a traditional, intact, nuclear family. He was pointing out the character in the situation comedy was a highly paid, intelligent professional women and that choice was implying in general that fathers are optional.
Our American Culture stumbled upon a study entitled The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners. The study is based on the National Survey of Family Growth, a survey fielded in 1995 to a nationally representative sample of roughly 10,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, sponsored and funded by the Centers for Disease Control of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Because men are not included in the NSFG, they are not included anywhere in this report.
This report shares life outcomes of women with and without men in their lives. The results are striking and vindicate Qualye’s perspective that intact families should be the rule rather than the exception for the benefit of the women involved and their children. It seems Qualye’s comments will stand the test of time much better than Gloria Steinem’s famous quip ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’.
Among other facts, the following highlights stood out in the study: Women beginning sexual activity at younger ages are –
- 2 times more likely to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- 4 times more likely to become pregnant and give birth out-of-wedlock
- 3x are more likely to become single mothers
- 2.5 times more likely to experience higher levels of child and maternal poverty
- 3 times more likely to have abortions
- 1/3 as likely to form stable marriages as adults
- ½ as likely to be very happy About 2x more
The video below reviews the Heritage Study and adds additional information from other sources including the Center for Disease Control. The additional information focuses on increased child abuse by mothers themselves and partners of the mothers.
Intact families add stability and strength to individuals, communities and our Country. While not every situation can work out perfectly, it seems foolish, if not harmful for young women to begin life alone, with a child, in poverty, at increased risk and in situation where it will be very difficult to overcome the existing dynamic.