Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Price Tags

I've been doing a bit of research for financial data lately, and of course loving the quest for journal articles and accurate footnotes. (Or is it feetnote?) Medical topics are still a new area for me, so it's a learning process.

Prenatal care is an issue that makes me feel good - what's more pro-life than encouraging women to care for the children in their wombs? Nutrition and regular checkups prevent low birth weights, medical complications, and even infant death. They even help save money in the long run:
1998 RAND study determined that first year care for a very low birth weight baby costs an additional $59,700. A birth weight increase of 250 grams saves an average of $12,000-$16,000.
This statistic is great for grant writing. It shows that our foundation's prenatal education is cost-effective and good for the community. It can convince a potential donor that their money will be well spent.
This statistic is also dangerous. Without the proper perspective, it can evaluate fragile lives in terms of dollar signs. Reading more of that RAND study, you can learn that "The costliest treatment was incurred by infants who survived their initial hospitalization but died before their first birthday: Those infants cost an average of $112,120." Should we infer that those 112,000 dollars were wasted? Or should we be proud that the American medical system can care for the most vulnerable among us?

Taken to extremes, a pragmatic view of medical costs and human lives leads to government ordered slaughter. Just look at China. I've heard their one-child policy called practical, necessary, and realistic.
It also is not without consequences. I'm terribly impressed with left-leaning Slate for addressing the sixteen million girls missing from China's population. These babies were aborted because they were not boys. As their generation enters adulthood - big surprise- parents are having trouble finding wives for precious sons. What once seemed practical for Chinese society is now kicking them in the butt.

Even more chilling was the Slate story on"The terrible things that happen to surrogate mothers in China."
In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, three young surrogate first-time mothers were discovered by authorities hiding in a communal flat. Soon afterwards, district family planning and security officers broke into the flat, bundled them into a van and drove them to a district hospital where they were manhandled into a maternity ward, the mothers recounted to Reuters. "I was crying 'I don't want to do this'," said a young woman called Xiao Hong, who was pregnant with four-month-old twins. "But they still dragged me in and injected my belly with a needle," the 20-year-old told Reuters. ... Another of the surrogates, who said she'd come from a village in Sichuan province, recounted how officers made her take pills then surgically removed her three-month-old fetus while she was unconscious.
This is what can happen when order and efficiency are valued over human beings. Babies can be bought and sold through the surrogate system, but the government only sees regulation of commerce. To them, the fetuses (aka desperately wanted children) are merely contraband goods to be destroyed.
That's why this grant research number-crunching only goes so far. Overall, NFNF measures success in saved lives, healthy babies, and empowered parents. Human capital is the most important kind.

1 comment:

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey Sarah, thanks for sharing your research. It's a big issue, and will continue to be. My church had to stand up to some who weren't so concerned for human life as you are.

Thanks for voting for me! I hadn't even heard of Crescat.