Not All Dead Babies Are Equal to Washington Post

Press Association via AP Images
Press Association via AP Images

In the past two days the Washington Post has published two stories about new infant mortality numbers in the District of Columbia for the year 2013.

According to just-released numbers, 6.8 babies out of every 1,000 born alive in Washington D.C. died before their first birthday.

The main narrative of the Post coverage is that babies from poorer neighborhoods are more prone to infant death than those born in Georgetown and other tony neighborhoods. This is usually attributed to better pre-natal care, the mother’s diet and other medical and health related issues.

The 6.8 rate of infant mortality shows an advance for District babies. The rate was 9.9 in 2009. The crude death number for infants dying before age one works out to a total of 62 out of 9,264 live births in 2013.

These numbers do not tell the whole story, and also demonstrate what many might see as the cherry picking of concern for poor babies.

Going back to the year 2011, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reported the number of women who became pregnant in the District of Columbia was 16,400. But there were only 9,348 live births that year. The discrepancy is explained by abortion.

Again, according to Guttmacher, 29 percent of babies conceived in Washington DC in 2011 were aborted, for a total of 4,750 dead babies, exponentially more than the 69 babies who died as infants in 2011 or the 62 who died in 2013. [2011 figures were used here because that is the most recent year abortion figures are available for the Distinct of Columbia].

One would be hard-pressed to find the Washington Post as concerned for the 4,700+ babies deliberately lost to abortion as it is for the 62 lost accidentally in their first year. In fact, when the Post writes about abortion in Washington D.C. it is usually in stories critical of House Republicans trying to do no more than fiddle with D.C. abortion laws.

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