“Statism” and Abortion Politics

Italian authorities in Lombardy, the stretch of Italy bordering Switzerland, have devised a plan to cut down on what they see as the prime reason for abortions among their populace — economics — by offering women money to not have an abortion. Clever. Here’s the surprise — I see no problem with this.

The plan contains within it a tacit acknowledgment that women ought to have control over these decisions, and that abortions can be cut by some means other than an outright ban. It also completely removes morality from the equation, so that women in need and state authorities can work towards their shared goal — decreasing the number of abortions. These are all advances, and Italy should be thanked for addressing the abortion issue practically — something anti-choice lobbies in the States can’t ever seem to do and, truly, have never even bothered to attempt.

Curiously, American anti-choice groups seem pretty happy with the scheme, too. But while it may decrease abortions, the plan seems to violate another key belief shared by most American anti-choice groups: that government shouldn’t be in the business of using money to affect the life decisions of its citizens, especially because government programs like these are uniquely subject to waste and exploitation. If implemented at the federal level, such an incentive-based plan to minimize abortions would stretch the Commerce Clause to the breaking point, because limiting abortions is social policy, not economics. It would actually present a case of federal overreach, which activist conservative lawyers gleefully over-identify elsewhere, and vainly prosecute.

Admittedly, this just validates what we already knew: that the right’s support for command social policies is the exception that swallows their limited government “rule” whole, at least when the state asserts power over someone undesirable — someone gay, someone Muslim, someone pregnant by her own “fault,” someone else. Next time you see a tea partier with a Gadsden flag, don’t miss the implied emphasis: “Don’t Tread On Me.” For everyone else, well, it depends.

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25 comments

  1. Sounds like basically just a government child support check. The “payment for changing one’s mind” angle is a bit odd, though, and pretty open to exploitation anyway – perhaps it were better to just give the money to all parents, or at least those below a certain income treshold.

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really no policy proposal that could ever reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. This is a cultural problem that is probably irreversible. All we can do is to try to mitigate the number of abortions with policies that make carrying a child to term seem more attractive. hard to do in liberal states that prefer abortion to live births. I’m ready to just abandon those states to their moral decay and focus on the states that prefer to allow children to live. Heap the adoption money and other supports on them.

    1. oneiroi · ·

      Did you really just say that there was such a thing as moral and immoral states?

      1. In the sense that choosing abortion is an immoral act…absolutely.

    2. A very “conservative” idea, picking those states that comply with some idea of federal mandated objective morality.

      1. I’m just saying why waste federal money on sates that use abortion to mitigagte unwanted pregnancies? Abortion is a cheap procedure. Why not focus the money on those states that choose life as keeping children or choosing adoption is a more expensive choice?

        1. Maybe those states could tax themselves more and provide those services at the state level…

      2. oneiroi · ·

        While we’re hypothetically handing out federal money based on perceived morality, I think blue states are more moral than red states, more money please!

  3. hard to do in liberal states that prefer abortion to live births.

    I’m sorry, which States have a policy of preferring abortion over live births? Because that sounds like strawman punching to me; allowing or not disfavouring abortions as practice != preferring them.

    1. Other Mike,

      The top 20 ststes for abortion all went to Obama in 2008.

      1. Four words: Yeah? And? So What? Cite, please, too.

        That does not in itself tell you anything about the States beyond that statistic, and more to the point, you’ve yet to support your bald assertion that these States have a policy of preferring abortions over live births, or even that abortions represent more than a tiny fraction of the number of live births.

        1. Other Mike,

          ” Cite, please, too.”

          Certainly:

          http://progressconservative.com/2010/05/20/smoke-and-mirrors-on-teen-pregnancy/

          “you’ve yet to support your bald assertion that these States have a policy of preferring abortions over live births, or even that abortions represent more than a tiny fraction of the number of live births.”

          I wouldn’t say it’s a policy, just a startling affinity for. As for being a tiny fraction I disagree. For example, here are the numbers of teen pregnancies that end in abortion for the top 5 states:

          New York 54.00%
          New Jersey 53.00%
          Connecticut 46.00%
          Massachusetts 43.00%
          Vermont 40.00%

          I’d hardly call those numbers a tiny fraction…would you?

          1. Citing yourself? Poor form. Anyway.

            The statistics you cited from the Guttmacher Institute specify that of the ten lowest incidences of teen pregnancy, 7 are Blue, with the converse holding true for the top levels of teen pregnancy; what does that do for your argument? It certainly doesn’t warrant the baseless speculation of the final few paragraphs; and in the final para, you seem to imply that American liberals are dishonest abortion fanatics, based solely on your own anecdotally-based assertions.

            I’ll also point out that your own stats show teen pregnancy rates of 9.33% at the top. Applying the highest level of abortion, that of New York, results in a 3.875% rate of teen abortion from the total numbers. “Tiny fraction”? Depends on your definition of tiny, and it hardly represents the kind of all-encompassing affinity you’re making it out to be.

            1. “The statistics you cited from the Guttmacher Institute specify that of the ten lowest incidences of teen pregnancy, 7 are Blue, with the converse holding true for the top levels of teen pregnancy; what does that do for your argument?”

              Yeah, and the top 2 are blue states. Of the top 20 states for teen pregnancy, it’s pretty much an even split on red and blue states. We can slice and dice the numbers a bubch of different ways. I thought a sampling of the top 20 was pretty solid.

              “Depends on your definition of tiny, and it hardly represents the kind of all-encompassing affinity you’re making it out to be.”

              We can take it beyond teen pregnancies. Even when we consider ALL abortions, the blue states shake out at the top. Affinity is a subjective term but the truth is that the states where abortion occurs most frequently are all blue states. That speaks directly to their moral sensabilities and since the abortion rate is affected by public policy, i think they go hand in hand. Liberalism means more abortions. Period.

              1. Because as we all know, correlation always proves causation, right?

          2. It’s a large fraction of teen pregnancies!

            It’s not entirely controversial to say a state prefers abortions to live births in the case of teen pregnancies when they are unwanted (and the vast majority are).

            1. It’s a large fraction of teen pregnancies!

              I don’t dispute that; but then again, there is a saying: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

              Mike didn’t specify teen births to start with – he said all pregnancies. His ongoing goalpost-shifting notwithstanding, even a large fraction of teen pregnancies is still a very small amount because the initial sample is very small.

              1. It’s really unnecessary to differentiate between teen and all pregnancies. If you compare the stats on teen abortion to all abortions on a state-by-state basis the % match up pretty closely. So if you want to talk about ALL abortions – I believe the stats are that 40% of all unwanted pregnancies are aborted in the US. That’s a pretty gruesome number when even liberals talk about how regrettable abortions are.

            2. I agree with you Kris. I must admit although I disagree with your position on abortion you are by far the most honest of Ames’ commentors in your stance. I’m not sure why some liberals fight so hard to dispute the facts on abortion when it is an institution they support.

              1. “…It is an institution they support.”

                That itself isn’t fair.

                1. Ames,

                  How so? How do you support the legalization of abortion and not the institution itself?

              2. oneiroi · ·

                I’ve been really persnickety lately, but…

                the person you say is honest, just so happens to be the person that confirms your opinion.

  4. Next time you see a tea partier with a Gadsden flag, don’t miss the implied emphasis: “Don’t Tread On Me.” For everyone else, well, it depends.

    I don’t really get your point – I think you’re implying there’s something bad about that, but I can’t figure out why that would be.

  5. Right. To you or Ayn Rand, I’m sure that sounds happy :)

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