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51% Show #1267

Marc Haserodt

This week on 51%, remembering babies who were once supposed to be forgotten. We'll hear why a very special memorial is healing hearts, and look at programs aimed at saving mothers and babies.

Our culture has changed a great deal from the world our mothers and grandmothers knew. Birth, for many parents, is now an event where fathers are welcomed, where mothers have choices, and where invasive procedures are saved for emergencies. But sometimes a joyful event turns tragic. And for women who lost babies thirty, forty, fifty years ago, the death of a child was a bewildering, not to be spoken of loss. Many mothers never even saw the babies they'd lost. One upstate New York cemetery is trying to heal that wound.  More than 400 fetuses and infants were buried in a mass grave in what was known the maternity plot at the back of the Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna between 1951 and 1973.

Maureen McGuinness is family services manager at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna, New York. The cemetery has now opened what it believes is the first memorial of its kind in the state – a place to remember those little lives that were here for such a short time.  She spoke with Lois Connelly, a woman who can finally tell her own story.

Every day in the US 11,000 babies die on the day they're born. According to the co-director of Ohio Better Birth Outcomes, just under forty percent of babies born are African-American, yet they make up seventy percent of babies who die in the first year of life. It's a huge disparity and a problem that one program in Tennessee may be helping to eliminate.  The infant mortality rate in Shelby County, Tennessee is almost double what it is nationally. Among black women it’s almost triple. Yet there are programs in the county that help babies make it to their first birthdays with almost 100 percent success. Eleanor Boudreau looks at how they do it.

Up next, using nutrition assistance at the farmer's market – and doing away with diapers altogether.  

7 million Americans are enrolled in the SNAP program, or food stamps. The program is the biggest spending item in the farm bill. And the program has a big bulls eye on it in Congress. As Grant Gerlock reports for Harvest Public Media, the economic considerations go beyond who receives SNAP benefits to how and where the money is spent.

Did you ever consider what it would mean to the environment if your children were out of diapers earlier? What if they never wore diapers at all?  Leisa Goldberg & Rebecca Steinfeld filed this report for the Homefront Chronicles.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme  music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.

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