Married Babies Having Babies

July 27, 2005 at 8:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

My my, a 22 year-old Falls City man sure has stirred up a fuss. That’s what happens when you marry a 14 year-old who you impregnated at age 13.

These situations are not all that uncommon, and they highlight the futility of criminalizing social behaviors—in particular those that are criminalized primarily because they make most of society say “ick”. And really, what is it, other than the “ick” factor, that makes the Falls City guy a criminal? I hear things like “It’s just wrong.” Why? “It’s gross.” What makes this gross, and why should your concept of gross put people in jail? “22 year-olds shouldn’t even want to date 14 year-olds.” What’s your point? This guy obviously did.

It seems odd to me that this 14 year-old girl can legally be married and give birth to a child, but she cannot drive for two years, she cannot buy certain video games for three years, she cannot watch movies depicting the act that impregnated her for three years, and she cannot purchase or consume alcohol for seven years. That’s not to say that she should or should not be allowed to do any of those things, now or when she is “old enough”. But I often wonder why 16 year-olds are old enough to drive but not vote. 18 year-olds are old enough to vote and die in combat, but not drink alcohol. And why 14 year-olds are old enough to have sex—but only with guys of a certain age—and give birth, but not marry. All of the age limits we assign to social behaviors are arbitrary. Why that age and not some other age? Why any age?

Any time I see a 20-something guy hanging out with young teenagers I think to myself, “Why the heck would he want t

o do that? Young teenagers are annoying!” So seeing a 20-something guy marry a 14 year-old really boggles my mind. I don’t know if I think it ought to be allowed or not. But I do know that thinking it is “icky” is not a valid reason to criminalize it.

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The Comments

Mr. T July 28, 2005 at 12:53am

I saw Bruning talk about this last night on the news. I understand both or one of them are cognitively impaired as well? I agree that one shouldn’t need a license from the government to get married. I can see with alcohol however that the potential to harm is great - speaking as someone who knew several people who were killed by drunk drivers or who have killed themselves.

Mr. Wilson July 28, 2005 at 4:40am

If one of the married couple is cognitively impaired, it hasn’t been mentioned in the print media. Or at least not in any of the sources I’ve seen.

If the girl is cognitively challenged, Bruning’s case becomes fairly easy to justify. (And Kansas’ permittal of the marriage becomes very difficult to justify.) If the man is the one with the cognitive impairment, however, the clarity of the situation becomes even muddier.

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