Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Blueprint for a Conservative Court: Infants Worth Saving
"The oh-so-Catholic Supreme Court," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 1 November 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002607.html.
Tom Barnett isn't just an important grand strategist: he is also a canny observer of American politics. If one corrects for Dr. Barnett's political persuasion, one gets a reliable guide of what to do.
For example: I was uncommitted on Harriet Miers until Tom Barnett supported her. Why? Dr. Barnett accurately predicted that if Harriet Miers was withdrawn, the next candidate would be "a truly right-wing justice." Sure enough, we got that candidate in Samuel Alito.
Now, Dr. Barnett confirms my membership in the Confirm Alito Coalition...
Bush went conservative all right, and now we've really got our threat to Roe v. Wade. The American Catholic church has let itself become defined by this issue, which accounts for the increasingly conservative caste of both the clergy and faithful.
Now, with Alito likely to join Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, and moderate Kennedy on the bench, we're looking at a majority Catholic Supreme Court. It wasn't that long ago (my early years) that there was a single, dedicated "Catholic seat" on the Court.
He also correctly lays the credit for the Catholic (and Evangelical) rise to the people who made it all possible: abortionists.
Now, thanks to the divisive issue of abortion, the Catholics are running the Court more and more.
He's obviously worried:
Really amazing when you think of it. When I was born, the great religious controversy was having the first (and to date, only) Catholic president, John Kennedy. Oh the concerns that the White House would be captured by the Vatican!
Well, the Vatican is coming awfully close to capturing the Supreme Court.
And as a moderate Catholic, I confess I am made nervous by this development.
Translation: as an abortionist, Alito makes him nervous. Good!
But then: Dr. Barnett jumps the shark.
Reversing Roe v. Wade is a chimera, a dream. With global connectivity, abortion can and will be outsourced to nations (like India, with its burgeoning medical tourism) on a low-cost basis. Our only alternative will be ultrasounds at airports to stop pregnant women from traveling abroad, which, quite frankly, will come off like some queer sci-fi future dystopia story or--worse--like some scene from a freaky socialist regime like old Nicolae Ceaucescu's Romania (that's how all those orphanages got filled up, my friends, not a pretty sight).
Foolish, foolish, foolish
Barnett's words are just a globalized version of the "backstreet abortion" criticism: if you criminalize something, it will still happen.
Law do not end behavior. Law cannot create a perfect world. There will always be murders, infanticides, robberies, thefts, etc. But the important part is law can be a tool in reducing crime. We can never end crime, but we can manage crime. We can't save all infants. But we can save many.
I would have expected a similar insight from Dr. Barnett, not an implicit comparison of the GOP to the Romanian Communist Party.
You probably should have made explicit that the RCP banned abortion and birth control for the explicit purpose of increasing the population. Barnett certainly knows about the episode. His first book was about Romanian and E German foreign policy, after all.
Posted by: TM Lutas | Thursday, November 03, 2005
Thank you for your comment. I completely missed that angle.
It reminds of Mao's criticism to the effect that that family planning is a Western scheme to keep rising peoples down. Especially ironic in the light of post-Mao reforms.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, November 03, 2005
I think your last argument is off. There's a big difference between abortion and murder/theft; abortion is a service, with a pretty high demand, and lots of people are getting "benefits" from it. Practically, a domestic law will not stop people from getting abortions; it will just make the procedure more expensive for people with money (a weekend trip to Canada or the Bahamas instead of an outpatient visit), and more dangerous for people without money. Unless you make it illegal for any citizen to get an abortion anywhere in the world, in which case you can't enforce the law without ultrasounds at every airport.
I'm against abortion personally, but I'm also against illegalizing it for this very reason. Banning it is not going to change its availability as a practical matter: it's just going to make it more expensive or dangerous. I doubt we're going to see an international treaty against abortion in our lifetime, either... many other countries don't have the same conflicting views about it that we have.
Posted by: Joe | Monday, November 07, 2005
Before I respond, I wanted to be sure that I understand your claim correctly: that abortion laws have no negative effect on the number of abortions?
Why would an international treaty be needed?
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, November 07, 2005
If abortion laws have a negative effect on the number of abortions, it's going to be entirely among people who can't afford to leave the country and get an abortion overseas. We've already seen "medical tourism" pop up overseas for all sorts of procedures; who's to say it wouldn't happen for abortion, too?
You would need to make abortion illegal worldwide to stop people from doing this, and that would probably take a coordinated international effort. By illegalizing it when other countries still allow it, all you're doing is making it more expensive.
If a pro-choice person is given the choice of carrying an unwanted baby to term or taking a weekend getaway to get rid of it, which do you think they'll choose? It will become an issue of whether they can afford it. The rich will still get abortions, and the poor will be cut off. I'm not trying to incite class warfare with that statement... it's just what my rational-actor mind indicates to me.
Posted by: Joe | Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Thank you for the discussion.
Saying "If abortion laws have a negative effect on the number of abortions, it's going to be entirely among people who can't afford to leave the country" is questionable in a number of ways. First, it is an overgeneralization of a perpetual reality: the rich have always been able maneuver easier than the poor. Second, with the rising price of medical care and the falling price of international tourism, that isn't much of a barrier!
Saying "Unless you make it illegal for any citizen to get an abortion anywhere in the world, in which case you can't enforce the law without ultrasounds at every airport." is a double fallacy. It assumes first that enforcement must be universally effective, and second that "ultrasounds at airports" would be universally effective.
Neither of these statements are sound.
A proposed enforcement regime:
Anti-infanticide laws have a "remorse" clause: any woman who has an oversees later-term abortion may sue the abortionist in American court for wrongful death. Any evidence/testimony could of course be used in criminal prosecution of the abortionist as well.
For those who threat of arrest if they enter America and seizure of American assets wouldn't deter... while the American legal system refuses to accept illegally gotten evidence, it doesn't hold the same hesitancy on trying "illegally gotten defendents." So combine fear of civil prosecution and bounty hunters + criminal prosecution should significantly retard the growth of infanticide tourism.
" Banning it is not going to change its availability as a practical matter"
Strange... apologists for abortion often accuse pro-life laws of retarding "access to family planning." Are these people then wrong?
"If a pro-choice person is given the choice of carrying an unwanted baby to term or taking a weekend getaway to get rid of it, which do you think they'll choose?"
And under a regime where these people could then turn around and sue the abortionist for wrongful death, we can copt these self-interested actors into "hunter-killers" drones in a network. Later-term abortions, once committed, are irreversible, but a sanely crafted system can take down enough providers to substantially put a debt in the crime.
"The rich will still get abortions, and the poor will be cut off."
All crimes are like this -- even murder.
Laws cannot end crime. They can only manage crime.
Infanticide is a crime worth managing.
"I'm not trying to incite class warfare with that statement... it's just what my rational-actor mind indicates to me."
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, November 09, 2005