23 responses to First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues
  • *
    Reid Hochstedler
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 1st, 2008 at 08:24)

    The issue isn’t really a single couple of first cousins marrying. The issue is repeated generations of cousins marrying. A first cousin couple who marries, and are no closer than first cousins, have the same risk of having a child with a genetic illness as a woman giving birth after the age of 40.

    As someone of Amish descent I can trace my heritage back many ways to the same ancestors, as I am sure many of this sites readers can too. My grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents were all related to one another and although I have not seen any ill effects in my family that does not mean it’s not an issue for Old Order communities at large.

    I believe the Martins should be able to negotiate prices, it is their right as consumers. Insurance companies routinely negotiate prices.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 1st, 2008 at 08:29)

    I have a lot of questions about the article. The first thing that stood out was the claim in the article that Martin’s hands were dirty from planting corn. I’ve planted a fair amount of corn; my hands have never gotten dirty. Even the Old Orders don’t plant corn by hand; so why would his hands be dirty from planting corn? Then, the picture shows his hands and they aren’t dirty. Secondly, I’m not personally familiar with Old Order Mennonites, but Old Order Amish don’t approve of marrying first cousins. I doubt very much that he married his first cousin. Thirdly, the Old Order Amish community that I’m familiar with has worked out a deal with the hospitals to get the same discounts they give to HMOs in exchange for payment within 30 days. The community raises the money to make the payment. I can’t believe that the Old Orders in Pennsylvania haven’t worked out similar discounted deals with the hospitals there and that the community isn’t helping with Martin’s bills. I think we need the rest of the story because the one the Wall Street Journal reported doesn’t smell right.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 1st, 2008 at 16:03)

    This can be a very sticky issue! Anyone who is uninsured should be able to negotiate a lower fee. I remember when I was uninsured, the hospital I dealt always knocked 30% off the doctor’s office visit for paying that day. They also are good at reducing other charges and working with you on payments insured or not.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 2nd, 2008 at 10:22)

    I just read in The Vender (Amish advertising paper in Holmes Co. area) a little statistic that surprised me. It said 20% of all marriages in the world were between first cousins. Where the info originated from, I dont know.
    This tidbit was not given to support or oppose first-cousin marriages, was just a trivia thing.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 2nd, 2008 at 12:52)

    Wait, the man has property worth in the millions, and he isn’t paying his hospital bills because doing so would mean abandoning his way of life? I’m sorry, but no. The hospital is in the business of providing health care. It’s not in the business of preserving the Old Mennonite (or any) lifestyle or religion.

    As for cousin marriage, here’s some info including a partial global map of prevelance rates:


  • *
    Dave Carrig
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 2nd, 2008 at 16:15)

    Old order Amish/Mennonite or not I personally don’t believe it is ethical or right for hospitals to be in the business of negotiating health care!

    I have never understood this – my wife was hospitalized for three weeks for a nuerological condition and the initial bill was in excess of $300,000. My insurance company only paid $30,000.00 because that was the agreed upon price. So because I have pretty good insurance the bill came to $30,000.00 – yet the uninsured sap with the same condition who doesn’t know any better gets shafted for $300,000.00.

    Another classic example of why something needs to be done about health care in this country. Health care is a racket and quite frankly I think used car salesmen have more honor and integrity than most hospital administraters. At least they aren’t playing with a human life…

  • *
    Matt from CT
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 2nd, 2008 at 20:42)

    Welcome to the games played with health care finance in the U.S.

    It has nothing to do with plain people, or marrying cousins.

    Back in the early 1990s my volunteer fire company intiated an ambulance service, financed by billing the patients. It provided a higher level of service to our patients for less cost to the taxpayers.

    At the time Medicare demanded they get xx% discount from the price. So we had to set a fee high enough that we could still break-even with the lower reimbursement percentage from Medicare. Medicare also required that we pursue collections vigorously on those who didn’t pay — they would consider it fraud if we didn’t try and collect the full charge from non-medicare patients we charged full price to (in Medicare’s eyes, failing to pursue collections would be a de facto price decrease…and they only paid xx% of our lowest price).

    Since that time it has changed to a reimbursement rate system set by Medicare, not entirely based on what we would charge a cash customer.

    Because our service was and is relatively small, we were never pressured by private insurance companies to make similiar deals. However larger ambulance firms do — I’m sure it’s along the lines of “Gee, give us xx% off the cash price and we’ll make sure you get a check in 30 days…otherwise, you know these darn computers, could take months to get the bills paid.”

    This perverse system of major government and private entities wanting discounts off the cash price for services is total baloney.

    One big reform for healthcare that would help, instead of dickering around with financing schemes, is to require the lowest price available to any entity be available to people who pay net 30.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 3rd, 2008 at 21:45)

    This man is not and should not be entitled to anything due to his religous beliefs.

    His children are sick due to his and his cousin deciding to go ahead and KEEP reproducing after his first born had major health problems for crying out loud! Selfish much? As a parent, why would you even take that chance again?

    He states that he beleives that the community should come together and care for eachother,yet he made the choice to leave that community and bring them to medical facilities to treat them. Which they did, and should receive payment in full. Nobody forced him to go, he chose to get treatment, which he knows isn’t free.

    Hospitals don’t get to negotiate the prices of the equipment and medications to care for people, why should he get to negotiate a price for saving his children’s lives? Maybe he should be thankful they’re still even around because the big bad hospitals helped them.

    The man is a walking oxymoron.

  • *
    Dave Carrig
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 4th, 2008 at 05:19)

    Hospitals don’t get to negotiate prices for equipment and medicine? Wake up and re-check your facts, anonymous! Because they certainly do.

  • *
    Helen Parnell-Berry
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 5th, 2008 at 12:40)

    Sorry but the whole issue has left me totally gobsmacked. As you know, here in the UK health care is free at the point of delivery. I am a health care professional and it is unethical for me to tell someone that they can’t marry their first cousin or if they do they can’t go on to have children just in case they may have a child with a congenital defect. This is regardless of colour, creed or bank balance/property equity. I understand that the poor chap can’t sell his farm; how would he support himself. And he can’t come and live here in the UK and get free health care, not unless he uprooted the whole family and jumped on a plane and set up the very first Old Order Mennonite community in the British Isles. Actually, that would be rather good.
    Sorry, I was waffling there. I just think that the concept of the richest nation in the world not being able to offer free health care is obscene. I await the fall out from that statement.

  • *
    Rachel M
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 6th, 2008 at 10:47)

    Oh trust me, Crockhead, he did marry his first cousin. I live in Lancaster County, grew up Amish and married a man who grew up old order Mennonite. When I read the article I suspected right away that this guy was “35er.” They are a very small sect that frequently marries first cousins. The reason for this is their church has split so many times. They are splintered to the point that a “church might consist of only relatives. This also explains why the church community would not be able to help pay the bills. Very likely there isn’t much to his community other than family, and as the article states, they already have helped out. Another reason I believe he is of the 35er sect is because the article mentioned them not having electricity. The only groups that dress like the photos show are 35ers and Groffdale Conference. Groffdale Conference Mennonites have electricity and do not marry first cousins.
    The 35er group is generally looked down upon by other Mennonites. They are the Schwartzentrubers of the Mennonites, so to speak.

    • *
      Grace Related to the Hoover’s
      Comment on Related to the 35er's (July 23rd, 2012 at 18:58)

      Related to the 35er's

      I too know that the 35er’s married 1st cousin, Which I know a family that had many problems with there children, even death with so server handy capped. I think it should be a law that 1st cousin should not get married as even in generation it will afect. Which my relatives wood agree.and left the 35ers Which did splinder many times.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 6th, 2008 at 17:20)

    I agree with the comments that it is sad that our rich nation has such a poor health care system. I stand corrected about the likelihood that Martin married his first cousin. Every Amish community, while seemingly alike to outsiders, has its own pecularities and the old orders which whom I am acquainted do not marry their first cousins. I still cannot muster up much sympathy for Mr. Martin, however, for the medical bills he owes. We have the system we have. Why should me be any more immune from having to use some of his millions of assets to pay his medical bills than a non-Amish person? Everyone’s lifestyle is impacted when they have to pay huge medical bills.

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (August 20th, 2008 at 07:13)

    I think the comment from Marc is pretty ignorant. The question is not about asking the hospital to preserve his way of life. His point is, if he were to sell his farm and use the money to pay a bill, what means would he have to pay his bills.

    That would be like Marc selling off his education

  • *
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (August 6th, 2010 at 02:05)

    Having a medical background, I ran into some articles recently that state that there is actually no documented problems with first cousins marrying, contrary to popular myth. The genetic disorders inherent in some Amish families have nothing to do with how closely they are related directly, but rather in the fact that they are both from long lines of Amish, who are more likely to each be carrying the defective chromosome.

  • Susan that is an interesting take and makes sense. I have no medical background :), but is this another way of describing the founder effect?

  • *
    Lloyd Hoover
    Comment on On Jesse and Esther (July 21st, 2012 at 19:34)

    On Jesse and Esther

    Just a note… Jesse Martin is my uncle, and he did marry his double first cousin. Their kids are my double double first cousins. My parents are first cousins and our family has no medical disorders.

  • *
    Grace Related to the Hoover’s
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 25th, 2012 at 08:20)

    I did find out that Jesse’s mother is a Hoover and related to me, I think it is so sad that Jesse and wife knew that the parents are 1st cousin and still got married NOW THE CHILDREN GET MARRIED AND ALL KINDS Of ISSUE WITH THERE CHILDREN, why keep the cycle going????????? Lloyd Hoover you didn’t mention that your cousins have problems and now there children. Sooo Sad !

    • *
      Lloyd Hoover
      Comment on Related to Jesse (June 23rd, 2013 at 16:37)

      Related to Jesse

      It is sad. I am so thankful that I left the 35ers and married someone totally unrelated to me. My sister is now dating one of Jesse’s sons. Their children would then be double double double cousins. So sad.

  • *
    Grace Related to the Hoover’s
    Comment on First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues (July 25th, 2012 at 08:44)

    I know the question is should Jesse and Esther pay there hosp. bills, Yes I think they should, even 100. mo. and etc. 9 out 11 is a lot , why, why on earth would you just keep going?? This subject is very sore with me about marring any cousins. SEEN TO MUCH! had to vent. Now its carried to Ky. too

    • *
      Lloyd Hoover
      Comment on Jesse is my uncle (June 23rd, 2013 at 16:40)

      Jesse is my uncle

      Grace, how closely related are you to Jesse Martin?

  • *
    Comment on Marrying First Cousins- (July 25th, 2012 at 13:36)

    Marrying First Cousins-

    I’m trying to remember which book (Deuteronomy?)in the Old Testament gives the list of the relations that CANNOT marry, but one thing I know by it, first cousins were not in the “no no” list. I found out when a new neighbor who became my friend (years ago) told me because I commented on the fact her & her husband looked so much alike.
    “That’s because we’re counsins” she said-their pastor looked in the Bible to make sure he was allowed to marry them scripturally and he was. So-they married and had 2 beautiful healthy children.

    That’s the only thing I can add, really, that it was not forbidden in the scriptures in the long list of forbidden marriages.

  • *
    Comment on First Cousins & Marriage (June 24th, 2013 at 07:11)

    First Cousins & Marriage

    I am sorry I can’t cite any sources as this information came to me via word-of-mouth, but what I had heard around five years ago or so was that it had been scientifically proven that — as long as no genetic conditions or such were possessed by either of the two individuals — a first cousin marrying a first cousin would not, alone, cause any genetic issues. The problem would be if either individual ( or both ) carried a mutated, damaged, or otherwise malfunctioning gene, then the children of the couple would be more likely to inherit it. Yet, that is true too of even two totally unrelated individuals — if each carries “x,” the children would also be more likely to inherit it. At least, that was what I heard and my understanding, which always could be wrong, especially at 8 am on the morning after a night of insomnia and no sleep!

Leave a reply to First-cousin marriage and Old Order health issues


Resource List
Reliable information from one of the largest Amish sites on the web.

Join over 15,000 email subscribers to get:
Amish Community Info | Book Giveaways | Amish Writers & non-Amish Experts | More

Get email updates

100% Free | No Spam | Unsubscribe Anytime