Monday, March 06, 2006

Abortion Bill

The South Dakota abortion bill, which bans all abortions except those necessary to save the mother's life, and which does not contain exceptions for rape or incest, has been signed into law by Gov. Rounds. The bill is intended to and likely will set up a new review of Roe in the Supreme Court.

31 comments:

rdturpin said...

a new review of Roe in the Supreme Court

THAT should be, um, interesting...

Patrick Armstrong said...

I did have a pithy comment on this whole thing, but it kinda got out of hand...

monticello_pres said...

This is an arguement that we (those of us that disagree) will likely never agree on.

My basic belief on this resides at my definition of "life". Does life begin at conception? Does life begin at the point which a fetus could live on its own outside the mother's womb? Does life begin at birth?

I personally believe that life begins at conception. I cannot imagine anyone who has had a child, seen the ultrasounds, heard the heartbeat, and walked through the process can think differently. But heh, there is a small percentage of the public that disagrees with me on other subjects, too.

I will add that I would be proud to live in a country who took a stand. I would like for us to take a stand and protect the life of a conceived child... period (save, of course, the life threatening situations).

I would also venture to say that the "heartland" and the "bible belt" will run far more than 10 points to the right of any California poll.

Just my 2 cents.

Jmac said...

I like Patrick's argument. I'm a pro-life Democrat, but I also have a respect for the law. Plus, as a Christian, I don't want to merely ban abortion since, quite frankly, I believe that's dreaming too small. I want to make abortion irrelevant and that means changing the culture ... and I don't think you do that by reversing Roe v. Wade (which, as any student of law would know, simply reverts us back to the bizarre litany of state laws we had pre-Roe meaning abortion is still legal).

I've long felt that the majority of the pro-life movement just doesn't get it, and I think this is proof of that. And I'm not talking about people who have legitimate legal and ideological disagreements with Roe v. Wade (I know quite a few actually), but rather individuals who have a naive belief that overturning the decision means abortion will vanish and God will smile.

Plus, as strongly pro-life as I am - and I am, actually, very much a pro-lifer - I understand and agree with the legal findings in Roe v. Wade. It's a sound argument and to arrogantly pass a law with the sole intention of challenging it is petty and small.

Changing culture isn't easy. It's not supposed to be. I don't care for abortion one bit, and I'm more than happy to tell you about it, but if I want to truly see that abortion never happens again, I have to start changing hearts, not laws.

Dawg Corleone said...

Well. Surprise, surprise. A pro-life Democrat.

Meet a pro-choice Republican.

I'm very reluctantly pro-choice. I believe abortion to be horrible. The only thing worse--in my view--is a government strong enough to stop it.

That said, I like that bizarre litany of state laws, re abortion and most everything else. So did the Framers. That's why they gave us federalism. I'm looking at a poll that says 59% of the people in other states wouldn't want the South Dakota law in their states, which means we probably won't see such a law in many other states.

Overturn Roe--which looked into the Constitution and found not only abortion rights but trimesters--and the question gets decided in state legislatures. I used to date my state representative, so I'll take my chances there.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

My position is far too complex to fit into "pro-life" or "pro-choice" labels. From a moral/ethical perspective, I am "pro-life": I believe abortion to be immoral in all but a few circumstances. From a legal perspective, there are two questions: (1) Since it's wrong (in my view), should there be criminal penalties for doing it? and (2) Who should decide this, the federal government or the states?

I don't disagree with the legal analysis that Roe undertook, I just disagree with the outcome. I think the states' interests in protecting the life of the unborn got underweighed versus the privacy interest. Roe says this is because of the scientific uncertainty about when life begins. I think that any such uncertainty ought to be resolved in favor of the life interest over the privacy interest. Thus my fundamental disagreement with Roe is not that no privacy right to an abortion exists, but simply that states I believe have a much greater right to regulate that right constitutionally because of their interest in protecting life.

That being said, I'm also a strong believer in respecting legal precedent, and the Roe/Casey line of cases is pretty damn strong precedent now. For pro-lifers who want to overturn Roe (a group within which I do not include myself), the SD bill was probably the wrong tactic, because the SC, even with Roberts and Alito, will likely strike down the bill and further strengthen the Roe/Casey precedent. The adamant pro-lifers were doing much better eating away piecemeal with other regulations that have been upheld, like parental notification, mandatory pre-abortion counseling, and the like.

Jmac hit it right on the head; what's important is not passing new laws or overturning Roe, but rather changing a multitude of conditions that contribute to the number of abortions. These include cultural issues as well as economic ones. Anyone who genuinely cares about reducing abortions (rather than using the issue to score political points) should focus their efforts on these issues.

Dawg Corleone said...

Now to the politics of abortion:

The dirty little secret is that neither side wants the question resolved, because both sides would rather have the issue than have a solution to the issue. It sure keeps the money rolling in, and the extreme wings of both bases are always clued in.

So you have a strange dialectic at work: mainstream America is pretty well OK with where we are now--most of us don't like abortion, but whatever we think of Roe as a ruling we are for the most part all right with the result. And the political operatives are fine with where we are now, because as long as the issue is viable it keeps the fundraising operations well lubed.

hillary said...

Anyone who genuinely cares about reducing abortions (rather than using the issue to score political points) should focus their efforts on these issues.

Like free birth control.

Dawg Corleone said...

Not to be glib, but it seems your solution to every problem is to get somebody else to pay for stuff.

Fishplate said...

Like free birth control.

Maybe I'm missing the point, but why should birth control be free?

In fact it is free. But assuming you just can't not do it, a condom is a buck. If you can't afford a buck to get laid (maybe your partner could chip in fifty cents) then maybe you can't afford to raise a child ~or~ get an abortion.

If you don't have a dollar, maybe you just can't afford the consequences of your actions.

monticello_pres said...

Yes, free birth control. Because the solution to depression is to provide free therapy, the solution to heart problems is to provide free medication, the solution to obesity is to provide free organic food, and the solution to poverty is to provide free money.

All worthwhile causes and easy solutions. Best yet, it allows us to live lifestyles free of responsibility and consequences. How terribly wonderful!

Now if I can only remember where I planted that money tree.

Patrick Armstrong said...

The Choose-Lifer in me says that if making birth control free will reduce the number of pregnancy terminations by even one, we go for it.

Luckily, theres a more common sense way to go about it: Birth control doesn't have to be free, but I would like to see it covered by all health insurance providers (which the working individual already pays for) at radically reduced rates and available at any pharmacy. We'll have to work towards those goals, however (I still believe that states should have the right to regulate their own businesses, within reason, like pharmacies). But those goals are far more easily attainable both morally and politically.

As for birth control, it is our most effective way to drastically reduce the number of pregnancy terminations in America, period. "technology is helping many women avoid unwanted pregnancies altogether. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "emergency contraception"—high-dose birth-control pills that you can take after sex to block ovulation, fertilization, or implantation—was almost unheard of a decade ago. By 2002, however, about 10 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 had used such pills. Pro-life activists are fighting these pills in many states and at the Food and Drug Administration, but polls suggest that even most people who oppose legal abortion would tolerate the pills.
...
Birth control isn't just more common; it's more effective. The weak link in contraception is the human being who's too excited, impatient, or forgetful to take it or use it carefully. But with proper safeguards, technology can circumvent that weak link."

hillary said...

it seems your solution to every problem is to get somebody else to pay for stuff

Many of my solutions are socialistic, if that's what you mean. I'm willing to chip in as much as need be. When I say "free," I really do mean covered by health insurance (which, of course, I think should be nationalized, meaning those who can't afford it do get it for free).

Asking people to stop fucking doesn't work. And condoms aren't as effective as they should be in that department (though they are both inexpensive and necessary to reduce the spread of STDs).

Birth control won't be the end-all be-all solution to reducing abortions, but it's a way to help do so without increasing the population.

Anonymous said...

To the chorus that deride Hillary's suggestion of free birth control:
How is it more fiscally responsible to NOT pay to provide universal birth control, and end up providing myriad services for these unwanted children in the future?
The only logically consistent answer would be to not provide any social services for these children. Please take that position. Go ahead, I want to hear it: "let 'em starve."

And yeah, what about free condoms at school for a start?

Darren

Publius said...

Whoosh! I disappear for five days and you guys get busy on Roe and Casey. Here's a few random things.

Rarely as it may happen, I find myself agreeing with some of our more conservative commenters on this one. Dawg is, to a certain extent, right on in his assertion that the majority of people in the US are pretty much ok with where we are right now. The politically active people on both sides like this issue because it's such a wedge issue. Keeps the activists ginned up and, as Dawg pointed out, the money rolling in - although, with my bias on my sleeve here, I would submit that, from personal observation, the anti-choice candidates and causes seem to have used the issue more successfully from a fundraising standpoint than the pro-choice folks have. I can expound on that later, or if you're curious, just email me.

However, let me expand on what Dawg said, and offer Publius' Corrolary to Corleone's Theory of Abortion Politics. Abortion politics also, in a lot of cases, gives politicians a simple yin-yang issue on which to legislate, so that they can avoid addressing the (often more pressing) bigger issues. Case in point: as has been widely reported, there are exactly 0 abortion clinics in South Dakota. By way of contrast, 15% of children under 6 years of age in South Dakota live in poverty. Get my point? Problem is, you can't pass a law making poverty illegal.

I also wanted to say something about this comment, because it kind of got under my skin. Our friend Dawg also said: " your solution to every problem is to get somebody else to pay for stuff." All I have to say about that is to ask one question. I pay taxes every year - on my property, on everything I buy, and on my income. So, why is what I'd like done with my tax dollars any less valid than what you want done with my tax dollars? There's a sort of culture among conservatives that liberals and progressives love to tell conservatives what to do with their tax dollars, but given the income range of most self-described "liberals" bear in mind that those are our tax dollars funding free birth control as well.

Jmac said...

With regard to free birth control, I don't know if I'm 100 percent behind Hillary's idea, but I think the primary reason she makes it is because, as has been pointed out, abstinance efforts aren't terribly effective. I mean, I was raised in the church and taught by my parents to wait until marriage, but that doesn't mean I did or that I didn't make stupid choices in my younger days. So, I'm simply saying it's unrealistic to think that hormone-fueled kids are not going to be somewhat sexually active. Giving them a strong grounding in sex education is essential to reducing the abortion rates.

Because, though I don't necessarily agree with the crux of his argument, fishplate makes a very valid point regarding responsibility - folks can choose to have sex and put themselves at risk for STDs or pregnancy, but they should also be prepared to deal with the consequences of their actions. And considering many folks will have sex outside of marriage and put themselves at risk, we should do everything in our power to make sure they make these choices with a thorough understanding of safe sex as well as access to the appropriate birth control methods.

Jmac said...

But ... both Corleone and Publius are dead-on ... both sides need abortion to continue to turn out voters. And, seeing how Republicans are the ones attempting to change the current legal environment, I'd agree with Publius in saying they have used it more to their advantage (if Roe and Casey are overturned, then pro-choicers will use it to their advantage more).

I'd make the argument that neither side wants this resolved, particularly the GOP. It's a hot-button issue which, unfortunately, drives many folks to the polls for one singular issue.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Absolutely the GOP doesn't want it resolved, because it's one of those issues that allows them to get the votes of poor whites who should be voting Democrat in their own economic interests (see earlier comments and the book "What's the Matter with Kansas?").

Dawg Corleone said...

So? (And remember--I'm pro-choice). Why shouldn't the GOP seize on issue that gets them votes?

Isn't that the idea?

You've all acknowledged Dems do the same, but seem resentful of the fact that Republicans do it better.

Which sounds, to this Republican, like more Dem whining. I swear, I think there's nothing that makes a Democrat happier than being a victim.

Nobody's stealing votes here: the Republicans, to the extent that they are succeeding with the abortion issue, are doing so because they're winning hearts and minds.

My suggestion to Dems would be: stop bitching about it, and go win some of your own, instead of acting like votes are just another welfare entitlement somebody owes you.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Jeezus...a little touchy. I'm just saying, most R politicians don't give a damn about the actual moral issue, but rather utilize the issue to get into power and implement a conservative economic agenda. I never said they shouldn't do it, was just pointing out that they were doing it.

And generally, when I suggest the Dems "seize" on an issue to get votes, I usually also genuinely believe in that issue and ultimately want policy to change regarding it. Therein lies, I think, the difference. But I'm sure you disagree.

Fishplate said...

And considering many folks will have sex outside of marriage and put themselves at risk, we should do everything in our power to make sure they make these choices with a thorough understanding of safe sex as well as access to the appropriate birth control methods.

That's all I want - people to have the knowledge, because that empowers them to make good decisions; hand-in-hand with that goes my wish to see people live with the consequences of that decision. But where in the Constitution does it say you have a right to get laid without responsibility?

And exactly how expensive is birth control? Those little pills cost maybe a dollar a day or less. How expensive is that? How expensive is an abortion? How does it become my responsibility to provide that to those who can't get their own?

And, so it will be said, I'll say it - Let 'em starve. Because they won't, really. Someone, somewhere will step in with their own money to see that they don't - while those of us who don't want to subsidise irresponsibility won't have to do so.

Jmac said...

The GOP shouldn't seize on the issue for the same reason Democrats shouldn't - because both respective parties should be doing all they can to accomplish their respective goals.

With regard to abortion, the GOP's official party platform is that of a more conservative pro-life position, which would be doing whatever possible to overturn Roe v. Wade. So, as much as I may think the actions in South Dakota are silly, at least that's a definitive example of them doing something.

But the bulk of this argument has been about deceiving the population in order to keep getting their votes. By saying they want to end abortion, but never actually doing anything about it because it would cost them a ton of voters. And that's shameful, particularly with regard to such a sensitive issue to so many religious voters (then again, don't get me started on how the GOP abuses the Christian community for its own political purposes).

Likewise, and I'm sure to catch some flack for this from my Democrat friends, I think it was pretty poor of so many Democrats to oppose the concept of welfare reform in the late 1990s without offering a viable alternative. Because it's hard to argue that welfare in the 1990s had some kinks to be worked out, and while the Welfare-to-Work legislation Clinton signed in wasn't perfect, it was a demonstrative effort of trying to amend the system in a positive way. But Democrats stubbornly defended a faulty system because they knew that keeping the status quo meant they could keep a large portion of their base voters happy, rather than actually explore viable ideas of how to improve the system.

So it goes both ways ... and I still say it's reprehensible both parties shamelessly abuse the population to achieve their own ends, which are more often than not, maintaining or gaining power.

hillary said...

How does it become my responsibility to provide that to those who can't get their own? You can't lay it out much more clearly than that. I'd say it's not only your responsibility as a person who lives in a functioning society, but as a human being. We're clearly not just talking about abortion here, but about a whole philosophy, political and otherwise.

Anonymous said...

And similarly, "Someone, somewhere will step in with their own money to see that they don't - while those of us who don't want to subsidise irresponsibility won't have to do so."
This, to me, sums up the modern republican party: I want to keep my money, and yeah, gutting social, health, and educational programs will hurt some poor people, but that's not my f'in problem. Somebody else will take care of it; let me keep my money.
I just believe that, aside from being morally reprehensible, this approach is amazingly shortsighted: as a society (as a nation?), don't we want systems in place (basic healthcare, education, food for the poorest children, and yes, even birth control that helps minimize the costs of these other programs) that allow the best and brightest to rise to the top? Isn't this part of being competitive in a world economy? Or are we just interested in protecting every penny for our own spending and our own "legacy"?
Darren

Fishplate said...

This, to me, sums up the modern republican party: I want to keep my money, and yeah, gutting social, health, and educational programs will hurt some poor people, but that's not my f'in problem. Somebody else will take care of it; let me keep my money.

Though I'm not a Republican, I do like to decide whether my money will go to things I find morally offensive. Republicans and Democrats alike have decided that I will not be able to choose which charity will receive my largesse.

I do not ask to keep my money, only that I be allowed to apply my own ethic to its distribution. Those I feel deserving of my charity will get it - others will have a different view, and they will support others. What's wrong with that?

hillary said...

I do not ask to keep my money, only that I be allowed to apply my own ethic to its distribution. Those I feel deserving of my charity will get it - others will have a different view, and they will support others. What's wrong with that?

You can do that in addition.

This picking and choosing nonsense is one reason I have a problem with government withdrawal of funding of nonprofit sources, forcing them to rely on private charity, which, depending on where they're located, may or may not be forthcoming.

Fishplate said...

You can do that in addition.

Well, I alredy give. Why should I give again? How can I give again? My income is limited - the more the Government wrests from me, the less I have to use discretionarily.

Every dollar I give to charity is a dollar the Government does not have to launder through it's system. If the Government were to let me take credit dollar-for-dollar for my charitable contributions, I would be in a much better position to contribute more. As it stands now, though, I cannot affort to pay the Government for the work that I do for them.

This picking and choosing nonsense...

Yes, God forbid I should be able to choose how my money is spent. After all, the Government is so much more wise than I, and does a far better job at everything than I ever could.

... is one reason I have a problem with government withdrawal of funding of nonprofit sources, forcing them to rely on private charity, which, depending on where they're located, may or may not be forthcoming.

Well, if an idea can't make it in a free market, perhaps it doesn't deserve support. If Socialism is your goal, I suggest you study history to find where it has worked in the past.

hillary said...

After all, the Government is so much more wise than I, and does a far better job at everything than I ever could.

Dude, your government is you, and you are your government. In reality, I know that doesn't work out perfectly all the time, but anyone who digs the market making decisions (and I'm not entirely opposed to markets, especially those of ideas, more to the way they're used) should be all about representative government, which is where a bunch of people get together and talk about things and come up with a solution. Aren't the many smarter than the one most of the time?

Ned said...

Socialism works very well in Norway and other scandanavian countries. They have a higher quality of life and life expectancy than America, as well as very little debt.

Seems like we don't have to study history to find out about socialism, there are perfectly cromulent examples of it in the present.

Perhaps you were thinking about fascism? Many people confuse that with socialism because fascist regimes called themselves socialist in the past, but they are two very different things. America calls itself a democracy when it is actually a republic. Semantics is a complicated thing.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Norway: a very cold place where a few people live a happy existence in a monolistic society.

Last time I checked, the US of A was much, much larger than Norway in terms of population, geography, landmass, economy, religion and cultural demographics.

What works real good for them may not be the answer for us, is what I'm sayin'. Besides, I ain't looking for Nordic solutions to American problems.

"Yes, God forbid I should be able to choose how my money is spent. After all, the Government is so much more wise than I, and does a far better job at everything than I ever could." Welcome to (and Hillary said it) life in a Republic. We thank you for reading and adhering to the American Constitution.

That's why politics is important, as it helps (or hinders) us select the individuals who will make such decisions.

A problem does arise with spending tax dollars to make birth control more easily accessible. (Narrative: Don't spend my tax dollars on something I think is bad; morally, politically, personally etc.)

For a similar example, I have a problem when the government spends my tax dollars bailing out Big Airlines because they can't keep themselves out of bankruptcy.

But I understand why we do pony up that cash to keep our airlines (and, more importantly, all the jobs, businesses, freight, next-day delivery, & secondary and tertiary industries associated with the airlines) up and running. The goal there isn't to give huge breaks to airline CEO's (though we know they're getting their cut of the action). The goal there is to keep American business moving with little negative disruption. The cost of letting the airline (and associated business) fail is far, far greater than the actual value of tax dollars spent to bail them out.

With more accessible birth control and sex education, our goal is not to encourage immoral behavior and use your tax dollars to do it. Our goal is #1 to radically reduce the number of pregnancy terminations in America, #2 reduce the number of STD's transmitted and #3 increase a culture of personal responsibility.

Even if we were to provide absolutely free birth control (that we don't actually have to do), the secular cost is far lower than the price of not doing it. This is true on many levels. Education, welfare, the penal system, local economies, medical insurers and coverage, DFACS etc.

The moral cost of reducing even one pregnancy termination: priceless.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

You should do a MasterCard ad, patrick.