I admit it: I am largely apolitical. A lot of people consider me a bad person. I'm not affiliated with any party, I consider myself a political moderate, and I see so little difference from politician to politician that politics largely disillusions me. But I've heard things on the radio about this law in New Hampshire that requires doctors to notify parents 48 hours before the abortion of a minor. I became fascinated with the details of this case, and as I was flipping through the TV channels this evening, I found the debate before the Supreme Court on C-Span. I decided that I couldn't afford to change the channel, because I was actually interested about something in the realm of current affairs. Continue reading if you wish, but my views expressed here are all my own and largely controversial. All angry comments with no real debatable quality will be deleted.
Imagine a seventeen year-old girl. She's beginning her senior year in high school. She's been accepted to a good college, will be majoring in pre-medicine, and has her whole life ahead of her. Sometime around Christmas she misses a period. She goes to the doctor in secret a day after school in January, and she finds out she's pregnant. She talks to her boyfriend of two years, and he tells her that they only thing neither of them can afford to handle a child. She goes to Planned Parenthood and asks for an abortion. They tell her she has to tell her parents first. The girl is obviously terrified. Her parents could have any number of reactions, and she doesn't like most of them.
I am nearly 23, recently graduated from college. I can't even imagine going through the terror of discovering I'm pregnant, five years older than the age of a minor. Even though I live by myself in my own place, even though I have an excellent health care program through my employment, even though I have a stable pay check and could support a child if I needed to, I am still afraid of my parents' reactions if I became pregnant. Five years ago, if I were still in high school? Forget about it.
But fear is not the issue here. The issue is parents, being aware of what their children are doing.
Parental notification for minors' abortions is absolutely necessary, without exception. No justification exists for a girl to be able to have a legal abortion before she can legally purchase cigarettes. What is more harmful for a child? The very idea is preposterous.
A core issue in this debate is the fact that kids are having sex younger and younger. This fact can be related to multiple issues, but those reasons are not important. Even when people are having safer sex, the possibility for pregnancy is always there. Abstinence is the only 100% effective birth control, but teenagers just won't listen sometimes. Preaching can only go so far; children will make their own decisions. But when children make these decisions, for better or for worse, parents should be aware. Many kids try to hide the fact that they smoke from their parents, but too often parents know. They smell it on the child's clothes or in their hair. Pregnancy is a life-altering, earth-shattering event in the life of a woman. If parents can trust the government to take care of their children by not selling them drugs and alcohol, parents should also trust the government to take care of their children by upholding the parents' other wishes. If a parent thinks it's ok for their kid to smoke or drink, parents buy their children cigarettes or alcohol. If parents think it's ok for their children to have abortions, they can support their child's decision. If a parent knows their child is having sex, they can buy birth control.
The debate challenging the New Hampshire statute is a health exception, if the girl is immediately in danger as a result of her pregnancy. If delaying an abortion for just a few hours would harm the girl's health, should the parents still be informed? My answer is yes. The debate the Supreme Court is having shows how much variability the doctors' opinions can be for what exactly a "medical emergency" would constitute. If a minor is sexually active, he or she should be aware of the consequences. We are not holding children responsible for their actions. This is not a "women's health" issue. This is a parent/child issue. Parents have the right to know.
I am a sucker when it comes to food. Stick the phrase "free food" on an invitation, you can pretty much bet I'll be there. I grew up in a food house. My mother cooked in both high quality and high quantity, so I grew up with a distinct love for cooking. My mother's baked goods are phenomenal, and I typically can't eat others' baking without being disappointed—it's just not my mom's. They had a bake sale at work for a really good cause, so I bought things that my mother doesn't normally cook, namely baklava and lemon poppy seed bread. The following morning, a co-worker was sharing her bake sale bounty when I spied a distinct shape. It was a chocolate chip cupcake. But it was still early in the morning; I couldn't eat a cupcake for breakfast. Right next to it was a muffin, apple strudel or something of the sort. Then I started thinking—what made one pastry a cupcake, and the other a muffin?
The line between cupcake and muffin is a thin and wavy one. One might say that cupcakes have paper while muffins do not. This chocolate chip conundrum did not have paper. Other definitions may indicate that cupcakes are dessert while muffins are for breakfast. I had no idea where this pastry fell, since it was chocolate chip I leaned toward cupcake, but it didn't have frosting, making it largely un-cake-like. To make myself feel better, I called the mystery food a "chocolate chip muffin" to make myself feel better, for they do exist.
Further investigating this concept (since I am truly a scientist, and have nothing better to do with my time besides investigate… and knit), I went to dictionary.com to see if the website could give me definitive differences:
Cupcake, n: A small cake baked in a cup-shaped container.
Muffin, n: A small, cup-shaped quick bread, often sweetened.
Aha! This was the start of something. Cupcakes are like cake (logically), while muffins are like bread. Cakes and bread are totally different baked goods. Once they are transformed into the cup shape, however, their differences diminish slightly. To my knowledge, chocolate chip cake and chocolate chip bread can both exist. And why shouldn't they? Both contain chocolate and therefore are equally tasty. Most of the breads that we normally think of when we hear the word "bread" are typically yeast breads, anyway. Using the phrase "quick bread" skews the definition just enough that the difference is small.
I needed to know, pound for pound, what the core difference was. So I pulled up a pair of recipes to compare...
|Flour||2.5 cups||1.5 cups|
|Sugar||1.5 cups||0.5 cups|
|Baking Powder||2.25 tsp||2 tsp|
|Salt||0.5 tsp||0.5 tsp|
|Liquid|| 0.5 cups evaporated milk|
in 0.5 cups water
|0.5 cups milk|
|Lipid||1 cup butter||0.25 cups oil|
|Chocolate Chips||1 cup||1 cup|
Where the muffins lack in sugar they make up for in chocolate. The muffins are most likely drier, too, due to the lesser amounts of moisture, especially eggs. But these are just two recipes. There may be muffin recipes that call for butter and plain old milk. I've seen cookie recipes take several different kinds and amounts of flour, not to mention all manners of lipid. When it all boils down to it, perhaps the only real indicator of muffin versus cupcake is the taster's nomenclature.
Therefore, I say, eat cupcakes for breakfast. You can call them muffins and feel better about yourself. Then, serve your guests healthy muffins for dessert. If you call them cupcakes, they'll never be the wiser. Though no one's pastries will ever match my mother's, I still enjoy the occasional non-Mom-sanctioned dessert (especially Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, which they serve in the cafeteria at work). Enjoy your pastries, no matter what you deem them.
For further muffin madness, feel free to visit Muffin Films.