Monday, November 3, 2008

Analyzing the Republican Pro-Life Case

As readers of the comments on my previous blog are aware, it is impossible to support a Democrat for pro-life reasons without stirring up controversy. A lot of controversy. In addition to the published comments, I have received many emails and even letters from passionate Christians and family members who implore me to consider further arguments.

I do appreciate the sentiment and thoughts. I have very carefully considered these arguments, and at one point seriously contemplated the possibility of voting for Bob Barr. (Sorry, Senator McCain--I could never vote for anyone who labels a Palestinian peace activist as a "neo-Nazi.") The arguments are as follows:

  1. Abortion restrictions such as parental consent/notification laws actually do reduce abortions, according to a 2006 analysis by Prof. Michael New.
  2. Obama plans to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (if it is passed), which would eliminate any restriction of any type on abortion. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals could no longer refuse to provide abortion. Partial-birth abortions could no longer be restricted. State parental notification and informed consent laws would be nullified.

As I examined the data as carefully as possible, though, I think my original public policy analysis was sound. A vote for Obama is vote to improve the economic and societal situation of expectant mothers, and thus is a vote to reduce abortion. Let's see why:

1. New's analysis is faulty because it fails to control for the correct variables. Prof. New only controlled for income growth and racial demographics in his analysis of the effects of abortion restriction policies. The Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) analysis, however, controls for 16 economic and welfare policy factors, in addition to the abortion restriction policies. Once these additional factors are considered, the effect of abortion restriction policies becomes immaterial. As Wright and Bailey report in the CACG paper:

Using the nationwide data, we also analyzed the effect of state-level laws that are designed to prevent abortions. In the Appendix, we show that laws concerning parental and informed consent had no significant effect on the number of abortions in the United States. We tested for the effect of both passing and enforcing parental and informed consent laws, and find that the net effect on the abortion rate of both passing and enforcing these laws was very close to zero. While we did find that partial-birth abortion laws are associated with decreases in the abortion rate, this result was not statistically different from zero and was not consistent across different specifications. These results stand in contrast to earlier research, but that research did not control for important socioeconomic factors such as government assistance and employment rates by gender.
Thus the primary policy factors to reduce abortions are economic assistance programs that can help expectant mothers, although the elimination of Medicaid funding for abortions also helps.

2. The Freedom of Choice Act appears to be little more than lip service to the pro-choice movement. I urge my readers to go read the actual Act, rather than rely on what I or anyone else says. You will see that it basically enacts as a matter of federal legislation the policies already propounded by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

  • It does not prevent medical professionals from exercising their conscience--a right which does not rely on state abortion restriction legislation.

  • It does not prevent states from restricting partial-birth abortions; in fact, the effect of the Act does not extend beyond the 22d week of pregnancy, since it states
    A government may not...deny or interfere with a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman
    This balancing of the unborn child's right to life with the woman's life or health is no different from today's law.
  • And I do not believe that the law will affect state's choices not to fund abortions with Medicaid dollars. The Act is spectacularly vague on the question of Medicaid funding, and even if it could be interpreted to override state funding choices, it would never survive a state challenge based on the 10th Amendment ("the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.")


Chris Falter said...

My dad (Ron Falter) was unable to post his comment directly, so I am posting the following comment on his behalf:

Oh, the power of well-chosen words to confuse opponents and advance a cause. In the case of the freedom of choice act, let's look at this skill at work. If a criminal were to break into another person's home, steal the homeowner's valuables, and murder the homeowner, how would that be described in the news account? Just as I have here, and probably in more graphic terms than I have used. But if it were described that a visitor to the home became interested in some of the unique contents, transferred ownership of said contents, and terminated the homeowner's earthly allotment of days, it wouldn't sound nearly so bad.

Applied to freedom of choice act, they have called the breaking into a woman's womb, and tearing to pieces the baby that was growing safely there, and throwing those pieces into garbage containers, this they call "terminating a pregnancy". “Terminating a pregnancy” doesn't sound nearly so bad, does it?

Slavery. The facts are that a human being is denied his/her rights to live where, and as they choose, and is forced to work for the slave-owner with no rights to any wage or working condition, whenever and wherever the slave-owner desires, and endure whatever forceful means (beating, etc.) the slave-owner chose to get the slave to work as productively as he wished. Let's sanitize the wording a bit: Maybe we could call it “immigrant relocation assistance”, where the immigrant is given a place to live, and life-time employment for which he/she is rewarded handsomely with living quarters on the beautiful estate of a wealthy farmer, with food provided generously, and with carefully chosen work incentives. Doesn't sound nearly so bad, does it?

Let's be consistent in our use of language and call "termination of pregnancy" what it is - killing a living human being. If that were done, the "freedom of choice” act would not seem nearly so appealing.
There are other phrases in FOCA that could be examined in this way, and if called what it really is, the "freedom of choice” act would be voted down by all except the most hardened of hearts.
But, the end result of this fancy-worded proposition is that there will be NO regulations whatsoever permitted regarding abortion for anyone, at any time; nor to the method used, including the partial birth abortion. Your taxes, my taxes, and everyone’s taxes will be used to pay for killing babies in the womb. Hospitals and medical personnel will be required to perform abortions, regardless of what their consciences want. The 86% of counties (from the CACG figures) that do not have abortion providers will be required to get them, so that the woman who wants an abortion will not be unduly burdened to procure it. The federal requirements for providing abortions will increase without regard to the wishes of the population of any territory. And, with a president as radically advocating abortion as Barack Obama is, the number of abortions will quickly change from decreasing annually to strongly increasing. Furthermore, the Federally enacted Live Birth Abortion Survivor Act will likely be struck down by a Supreme Court that will have from one to three new appointees by the winner of this election. In case you have not heard, Barack Obama has stated publicly that his choice for Supreme Court justices will be required to pass his litmus test, which is abortion “rights” as described in the “freedom of choice” act.

BTW Chris, the authentic Catholic document that you said is "outstanding" (and I agree 100%) states that in addition to social policy that might give more favorable conditions for pregnant women, elimination of any law that permits abortion MUST at the same time be pursued relentlessly until that law is overturned.

If Barack Obama is elected president, the disregard for life, especially innocent life in the womb, will become so vicious, widespread, and increased numbers that good and thinking people will one day say "Enough is enough". But the tragic destruction that will precede that day is very frightening.

Chris Falter said...

I agree that the FOCA is bad law, and I join you in opposing it.

The reason I voted for Obama was that I concluded that his economic policies + FOCA would result in fewer abortions than McCain's economic policies - FOCA. Perhaps the Republican remainder in the Senate will be able to kill FOCA with a filibuster. That certainly is my hope and prayer. Then we'll get the double bonus: Obama's economic policies - FOCA!