Let’s play “find the evidence” – foetal alcohol syndrome edition

So the next theatre of the war against pregnant people is going to be our terrible binge-drinking ways, apparently.

You can always spot these Issue Of The Day Which Is Actually Not An Issue stories by the way they go on and on and on about “evidence” yet produce none (see also:  rainbow parties, gay marriage destroying society, obesity epidemic).

This story from Radio NZ is a wonderful illustration of this point:

The National Addiction Centre says there may be as many as 3000 children born in New Zealand each year with the syndrome.

Actual numbers of children identified with said syndrome?  Sadly not provided.

Director Doug Sellman says evidence shows the situation is far worse in New Zealand than in other countries, due to the binge drinking culture here.

Actual statistics comparing us to other nations, especially other nations known for getting pissed up large?  Sadly not provided.

Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills says there has been an explosion in the number of children with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Children’s Commissioner’s actual facts and figures about the number of children with FAS?  Sadly not provided.

A Northland school principal says he sees about three children a year with foetal alcohol syndrome and their lives are ruined by it. …

Actual statistics for the Northland region?  Sadly not provided.  Roll size of the school in question and comparison to nationwide rates of FAS?  Sadly not provided.  Principal’s medical degree which qualifies him to diagnose FAS?  Sadly not provided.

Identification of Northland as a poorer region more likely to have higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, and lower rates of preventative healthcare, to name just a few possible contributing factors?  Sadly not provided.

Disclaimer that the “journalist” in question didn’t just shop around schools until a convenient horror story came along?  Sadly not provided.

The actual point of the entire article?

Mr Newman says the mothers of foetal alcohol syndrome children are often very young, and it is heart-breaking to see the damage they have inflicted on their children by drinking while pregnant.

He says drinking in pregnancy is a form of child abuse and should be a criminal offence.

There we go.  Let’s pass laws to control the irresponsible wimminz who are ruining precious babies’ lives.

Other things sadly not provided in this 478-word story?

  • Any kind of analysis of the level of support young pregnant people get
  • Any kind of addressing the fact that “yoof binge drinking” doesn’t just spring up out of nowhere and maybe when young people’s parents stop having shitfights over which city gets to host an excuse for drinking The Sevens or another excuse for drinking The Sacred V8s, or when our Parliament doesn’t clutch its collective pearls at the notion of Denying The Elderly Their Sherry, They Fought For Our Freedoms, then we can point accusing fingers at those teenagers who just magically decided getting off their face was funny
  • Any discussion of what constitutes “binge” or “excessive” drinking, and what level of drinking is actually connected with FAS.  I mean, it’s not like this shit isn’t on Wikipedia, for a start.

Before anyone wants to jump in and say “YOU JUST HATE BABIES AND THINK WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING THEY WANT”, here’s the thing: when people have dependency problems, prohibition has historically achieved fuck all. When people are, say, poor, pregnant, unemployed and living in fucking Northland, they may have a hell of a lot more crap on their plate to worry about than being perfect incubators. When the prospect of being pregnant (and probably unable to access abortion services because it makes influential old dudes cry) is actually a really fucking terrible one, some people may well hit the bottle hard.

Hating on pregnant people, banning The Demon Drink, sure, all that is going to make smug wankers feel totally awesome.  It isn’t going to fix the problem, it isn’t going to improve the lives of the people affected by this problem, but that’s never really the point, is it?

ETA:  But wait, there’s more!  What’s wrong with this statement?

He told Radio New Zealand on Friday that the source of the problem was that women were drinking during pregnancy.

He said 40 percent of pregnancies were unplanned.

Gee, maybe some comprehensive sex education, better access and information about contraception, and generally giving people the ability and autonomy to plan their own reproduction could help with that!  Wait, no, BAN DRINKING.  Next up: seafood, oranges, good cheese.

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