44. The State of Texas just can’t make up its mind whether teenage sexual activity is right or wrong.
The Texas Supreme Court minority opinion cited a psychologist’s testimony indicating that:
The pregnancy of the underage children on the Ranch was the result of sexual abuse because children of the age of fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen are not sufficiently emotionally mature to enter a healthy consensual sexual relationship or a “marriage.”
I happen to agree that 14, 15, and 16 year-old children should not be engaging in sexual relationships, but it appears that a double-standard is being applied: the government classifies such activity as sexual abuse if it happens within the FLDS community, while the government feels the need to subsidize the activity if it happens in the mainstream community. According to statistics provided by the Texas Department of Health:
211,596 [Texas] teenagers aged 13-17 were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services” in 2001. [emphasis added]
By the state’s own logic – as cited in the Supreme Court’s minority opinion – that amounts to state-sponsored sexual abuse.
The Texas government could have found me supporting its actions relative to the FLDS, if the state had collected evidence legally and proceeded against specific individuals based on specific evidence. However, given the manner in which the State of Texas has proceeded and the credibility of the evidence the state has produced against the FLDS, I find myself more shocked by the State of Texas than by the FLDS.
After reaching a high of CPS claiming there were 31 underage FLDS mothers, the state now claims that there are five underage mothers. According to a Salt Lake Tribune article, these underage mothers consist of the following:
- 3 girls who were 16 years old last year when they gave birth
- 1 girl who was 17 years old when she gave birth
- 1 pregnant girl who will be 17 years old in August
The link to state statistics that I provided above indicates there were “19,754 births to teens 17 and under in Texas in 2001.” It looks like the state of Texas would have made wiser use of its money by not allocating the millions of dollars it spent illegally taking all of the FLDS children into custody but instead trying to address the larger issue of reducing teen pregancy and teen sexual activity in the state as a whole. In a previous post, I cited an early estimate of $7.5 million for the state’s expenses for the FLDS raid. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently reviewed over 400 pages of state records and concluded that the tab has already hit 14 million dollars and that invoices for many other expenses remain to be submitted. Based on the above figures, the State of Texas has already accumulated expenses at a rate of $2.8 million for every alleged underage FLDS mother. If the state were to spend at the same rate for every underage mother in the state, the total tab would be $55.3 billion. Given that $82.5 billion of funds were projected to be available for all state expenses in the 2008-2009 year, that rate of spending would be unsustainable. Hence, by the manner in which Texas has chosen to spend its money, it has significantly limited the impact of its efforts in combating teenage pregnancy.
Not only does the state’s handling of the FLDS case pose significant constitutional problems, the state also seems to be operating on a basis of impaired common sense.