When Is a Dead Baby Not a Dead Baby? (When It’s Born Outside the United States)

Save The Children has released a report on infant mortality that, among other things, claims the United States has the second highest infant mortality rate among industrialized countries. The problem with this claim, however, is that the United States and other countries can’t quite agree on what counts as a dead baby. As such, infant mortality rates aren’t directly comparable between the United States and other countries.

The problem lies in a fact that, as the Save The Children report notes, most infants who die in the industrialized world die because they are either a) born too early or b) have a very low birth weight (and, of course, the earlier the delivery, the lower the birth weight tends to be).

In the United States, an infant born prematurely and weighing less than 400 grams will receive intensive medical interventions to try to keep it alive. If, as is likely, such expensive interventions fail, the event will be recorded as a) a live birth and b) a death.

In much of the rest of the world — including the industrialized world — such extreme medical interventions would never be attempted. Moreover, this would not be recorded as a live birth or as a subsequent death.

The Save The Children report simply relies on World Health Organization statistics, and the WHO itself recommends that births of less than 1,000 grams not be registered as live births in official records. Most countries follow this definition, whereas the United States doesn’t.

How big of a difference does this make? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2003 infants weighing less than 1,000 grams accounted for 48.7 percent of infant deaths in the United States.

Assuming that rate holds for the 2004 U.S. statistics the Save the Children report covers, that results in a >1,000g infant mortality rate of 3.5 per 1,000 births for the United States. That rate puts the United States barely behind countries like Japan, Finland, and Sweden which clock in at 3 deaths per 1,000 births. Not bad, especially given the largely mono-racial nature of those societies as compared to the United States.

Of course, why should we expect advocacy groups or the media to bother with such arcane statistics when U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world, report says makes such a good headline?

Netherlands Police Arrest Dozens of Activists in Fur Farm Attack

Dutch police arrested dozens of animal rights activists after a September 5 attack on a fur farm that resulted in the release of more than 6,000 animals.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, a group of about 120 animal rights activists from several different countries arrived at the fur farm in Putten, The Netherlands, arriving in two buses and several personal vehicles.

According to witnesses, the activists clashed with the farmers and neighbors, broke an alarm system at the farm, damaged vehicles, threw stones at buildings, and released about 6,000 mink.

Forty-nine activists were eventually arrested after a quick-thinking farmer blocked one of the buses by parking his tractor across a road that the bus was attempting to leave by. Another bus, however, managed to leave the area.

Unfortunately, Helsingin Sanomat never publishes the names of accused criminals, but it did report that,

Helsingin Sanomat has information according to which the group compromises hard-line activists who have been arrested or convicted of crimes related to animal rights activism.

Seven of these previously registered activists are believed to be Finns. One of them faces charges related to a farm raid in Finland two years ago.

The arrests apparently also generated quite a bit of controversy in The Netherlands from farmers who wonder why the attack wasn’t prevented since Dutch police admitted they were aware the activists were meeting in The Netherlands as part of an event sponsored by Justice for Animals and, moreover, were aware of threats of just such raids. As Dutch Member of Parliament L.J. Griffith asked,

If the police cannot even trace animal activists, when [sic] what about al-Qaeda?


Finnish animal rights activists arrested after mink farm raid in The Netherlands. Helsingin Sanomat, September 10, 2003.

Four Finnish animal rights activists still held in Dutch jail. Helsingin Sanomat, September 12, 2003.

Dutch mink farmer upset by Finnish animal rights activists. Helsingin Sanomat, September 16, 2003.

Three Extremists in Finland to Face Charges

Back in 2001 five animal rights extremists in Finland were arrested and held for several weeks on suspicion of involvement in a number of raids on fur farms in that county. In August the Finnish government finally got around to deciding to prosecute three of the individuals while dropping all charges against the remaining two.

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that the three would be charged with “aggravated damage to property and aggravated disturbance of the peace.” One of the animal activists is also, ironically, charged with an animal welfare violation resulting from using a dye on several foxes to discolor their fur in order to render them worthless on the market.

The long delay and failure to pursue charges has angered fur farmers and others in Finland who complain that the government is too lenient against animal rights extremism.


Suspected fur farm raiders rarely face trial. Helsingin Sanomat, August 21, 2003.

Five Activists Arrested In Finland

On July 29, 2003, five animal rights activist were arrested in Finland after attempting to break into a fur farm in Maalahti.

The activist targeted a farm that had been the target of another activist raid in 2002 that resulted in the release of 1,00 mink.

This time around, a newly installed security system alerted the owner and a security company who in turn alerted police. Police stopped a card the five were apparently attempting to flee the scene in, and according to a newspaper report on the arrests discovered “a number of objects in the car similar to those used in previous fur farm raids.”


Attempted fur farm raid fails — police catch five animal rights activists. Helsingin Sanomat, July 30, 2003.

Police Investigate Animal Rights Protest in Finland

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports that Finnish police are investigating a protest by Justice for Animals which appears to specialize in anti-fur protests.

In early August the group targeted a woman who owns a fur store. Although the store in Lohja, Finland, had been targeted for years, earlier this month half-a-dozen activists allegedly showed up at the woman’s home, telling her children that their mother was “a murderer,” that they should be ashamed of what she does, and allegedly telling the children that “your mother will kill that [family] dog.”

According to Helsingin Sanomat,

The entrepreneur said that since then the children have been fearful, have not been well, occasionally suffering nightmares. Both children have asked if “they” will come back. The older of the two has been especially concerned about the mother’s safety.


Animal rights activists suspect of harassing children of fur merchant. Helsingin Sanomat, August 14, 2002.

Activists Release Mink in Finland

Animal rights activists were the main suspects in the release of over 1,000 mink from a fur farm in western Finland in the early morning hours of Monday, July 22.

Somebody broke into the farm between midnight and 4:30 a.m. and managed to release a third of the 3,000 mink.

Finland is a major source of mink pelts, producing 2 million in 2001, and there have been a number of such animal releases over the past several years.


Activists work: more than 1,000 minks released on fur farm in western Finland. Canadian Press, July 22, 2002.