Unwed Births Hit Record

But Decline Among Teens

Nearly 1.5 million babies, a record, were born to unmarried women in the United States last year, the government reported yesterday. And the moms were not mostly teenagers.

"People have the impression that teens and unmarried mothers are synonymous," said Stephanie Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics. But last year teens accounted for just 24 percent of unwed births, down from 50 percent in 1970, she said.

The increases in unmarried births have been among women 25 to 29.

Many women that age are living with partners but still count as unmarried mothers if they have not formally married, Ventura noted.

Among teenagers, more than 80 percent of mothers were unmarried.

There were 1,470,152 babies born to single women in 2004, 35.7 percent of all births in the country, the NCHS said. That was up from 1,415,995 a year earlier.

Births to older women continued to increase: The birth rate for women ages 35 to 39 increased 4 percent from 2003 to 2004. It was up 3 percent for women 40 to 44 and 9 percent for those 45 to 49.

Alaska's Gay Public Workers

Win Benefits for Partners

ANCHORAGE -- The Alaska Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to bar benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees, a victory for gay rights advocates in a state that has banned gay marriage.

Overturning a lower court's ruling, the state high court said barring benefits for state and city employees' same-sex partners violates the Alaska Constitution's equal protection clause.

Gov. Frank H. Murkowski (R) directed the attorney general's office to determine the best way to overturn it, a spokeswoman said. Michael Macleod-Ball, executive director of the Alaska ACLU, said the ruling could have an effect on other states.

* ALBANY, N.Y. -- A state appeals court unanimously upheld a ruling barring New Paltz Mayor Jason West from performing same-sex marriages, saying he acted beyond his authority when he presided over two dozen such ceremonies last year. West's attorney said he would appeal to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals. West has maintained he was upholding the gay couples' constitutional rights to equal protection -- and thus his oath of office -- by allowing them to wed.

* HOUSTON -- As many as 1,000 Exxon Mobil employees and 14 residents of a senior citizens home were injected with fake flu vaccine, and Iyad Abu El Hawa, the owner of a home health care company, was arrested, authorities said. Preliminary tests indicated the syringes were filled with purified water, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said. No ill effects from the shots were reported, but Hermina Palacio, head of the Harris County health department, recommended that people who received the shots be tested for blood-borne pathogens such as the AIDS virus and hepatitis B and C.

-- From News Services