Pollution Kills Babies (But So Do War and Poverty…)


San Francisco, that lovely city by the bay where you once left your heart—and home of Mother Jones, has the lowest infant mortality rate of any large U.S. city. But one neighborhood has the highest rate anywhere in California—comparable to those of developing countries. That neighborhood is the troubled Bayview-Hunters Point, home of gang violence, the city’s main power and sewage treatment plants and a Superfund toxic waste site. Resident Tuli Hughes has lost 5 babies there.

Exposure to even small amounts of toxic substances during early pregnancy can result in miscarriages. That’s abortion by neglect, or so a new report from the Center for American Progress attempts to persuade evangelicals, AlterNet reports approvingly. Indeed, the religious right has begun to take some interest in environmental “sanctity of life” issues, but thus far they have focused on mercury in fish—a problem far more likely to affect middle-class women (and, you know, fetuses).

I’m not convinced this is the best way to persuade people that environmental injustice is wrong. All people have equal rights to have a baby, but the world is overpopulated and anti-choice arguments hardly need encouragement. Maybe we should just call environmental injustice what it is—genocide.

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