One of the lesser known aspects of the Madoff swindle is that it has left America’s number one abortion provided in dire financial straights:
Another nonprofit organization has found itself a victim of Bernie Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. A one-two punch of fundraising woes sparked by the economic crisis and the unfolding Madoff scandal have put The Planned Parenthood Federation of America on its heels, prompting a 20% layoff of staff , according to a report published on Crain’s New York’s website.
Given the vital role that organizations like Planned Parenthood play in the progressive imagination, it should come as no surprise that congressional Democrats have responded to this crisis by proposing a bailout:
Now comes the latest revelation about the congressional Democrats’ “stimulus” plan: it includes taxpayer funding for contraceptives and the abortion industry. Specifically, a provision in the legislation clears the way for expanded federal funding of contraceptives through Medicaid for those who aren’t even poor.
Today is the thirty-sixth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I feel like I should write something about it, but I don’t really have the words. Every time I try all that comes to my mind is the line from that old Neil Young song: That’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world.
We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. – George Orwell
When you make something illegal, you tend to get less of it. Partly this is because people are understandably less likely to engage in an activity if there is even a small chance it will lead to men with guns locking them inside a small room for an extended period of time. Partly this is because illegal activities, if they are to take place, must take place underground, which when the activity requires a willing buyer and seller, makes it harder for the necessary parties to find each other. One sees a lot more advertising for beer now than in the time of prohibition. There is also the effect criminality can have on social norms, and on people’s views of the behavior in question. All of these things combine to make the illegal activity more costly to engage in than it would be otherwise, and as the cost of something goes up, the incidence of it typically goes down. How much of a reduction accompanies criminalization will, of course, depend on a variety of factors, such as the level of enforcement and so on. And of course to say that criminalization reduces the likelihood of an activity is not the same as saying that it eliminates it altogether. Still, it would be passing strange if taking a illegalization did not have an effect on the rate at which the newly illegal activity occurred.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of people who, for whatever reason, want to exempt abortion from this line of reasoning. So, for example, Radical Catholic Mom cites data from the Guttmacher Institute purporting to show high abortion rates in countries where abortion is illegal.
Now the Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood. As such, it has both a financial and an ideological interest in finding that outlawing abortion doesn’t decrease the abortion rate. The risk of bias due to these interests is particularly high when you are trying to calculate the prevalence of an illegal activity, since reliable data on such activities is generally harder to come by (for obvious reasons), which leaves more room for creativity when it comes to crunching the numbers. For example, as William Robert Johnson notes: Continue reading
The lame duck period of any politician’s career can be a revealing time. So long as a politician faces the prospect of re-election, there will always be suspicion that his actions are less a reflection of his true beliefs than they are of what he calculates will be to his political advantage. Once the specter of re-election is removed, however, a politician becomes more free to let his true convictions (or lack therefore) show forth. History provides numerous examples of this. And now we have another:
A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.
The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
A few days back, as is often the case, folks were arguing in the Vox Nova comboxes about abortion, and the question arose of whether legal protection for the unborn or a minimization of the number of abortions ought to be the primary goal of the pro-life movement. Zippy spoke in favor of the former and stated his case thusly:
The illegality of murder is more paramount. If there were a law sanctioning the murder black people, it would be more important to eliminate that legal sanction than to decrease the number of murders. One is a question of basic justice, while the other is merely a matter of what it is possible to achieve as a practical matter.
As so often happens when reading Zippy, when I read the above I had, simultaniously, two seemingly mutually incompatible thoughts:
1) what this guy is saying is absolutely nuts; and
2) he kind of has a point. Continue reading
President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.
“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for Congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” John D. Podesta, a top transition leader, said Sunday. “He feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.” Continue reading
On Saturday, I talked about the likelihood that a President McCain or a President Obama would have the opportunity, if elected, to appoint Supreme Court Justices. Today I’d like to talk about the kind of justices they’d be likely to appoint. As with my previous post, I’ll be confining myself to considering whether such justices would be likely to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the chance (I focus on Roe not because I think other matters are unimportant, but because of the central role that the President’s ability to nominate Supreme Court Justices plays in many Catholics thinking on abortion and voting. For an analysis of whether overturning would actually reduce the abortion rate, see here).
I don’t think there’s much doubt that the Justices a President Obama would appoint to the Court would be pro-Roe. He has said as much, and previous experience with President Clinton’s nominees shows that Democrats tend to keep their word on such a pledge.
What about a President McCain? Continue reading
When it comes to Supreme Court vacancies and abortion, there are two things to remember. First, not all vacancies are created equal. There are currently five clear pro-Roe votes on the Supreme Court (Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Kennedy), two clear anti-Roe votes (Scalia and Thomas), and two votes that are probably but not definitively anti-Roe (Roberts and Alito). To get an anti-Roe majority on the Court, it’s not sufficient for a President to appoint an anti-Roe justice. It must also be the case that the justice this anti-Roe justice is replacing is one of the five pro-Roe justices currently on the Court. So, for example, if Justice Scalia were to step down and the President were to appoint Judge Pryor (who is about as close to a certain anti-Roe vote as one could imagine) to replace him, this wouldn’t change the vote should a case reach the Supreme Court in which Roe was challenged. That doesn’t mean that a Supreme Court vacancy isn’t important if the justice being replaced is anti-Roe. Should a pro-Roe justice be appointed to replace an anti-Roe justice, this would make achieving an anti-Roe majority on the Court that much more difficult. Likewise, if a pro-Roe justice were to be replaced by another pro-Roe justice, this wouldn’t necessarily change the vote in any case involving Roe, but it would take that seat “off the table” in terms of building an anti-Roe majority for the next 30 years or so until that new pro-Roe justice got ready to retire.
The other important thing to note about Supreme Court vacancies is that they are not random events. A vacancy can occur because a given justice dies or is too ill to continue his service, or it can occur because the justice in question decides to retire. And whether a justice decides to retire at any given point will depend, in part, on whether he thinks he will be replaced on the Court by someone who broadly shares his views on the law. The more liberal a justice is, the less likely he will be to retire during a Republican administration (if he can help it). The more conservative a justice is, the less likely he will be to retire during a Democratic administration. Continue reading
Joe Biden on reconciling his Catholicism with his support for legal abortion (attempt #154):
We’ve always believed from the outset that abortion is wrong. But throughout the years, debated the degree to which it is wrong. There are always cases where it is never a first choice. It is always viewed as a dire decision. But throughout the church’s history, we’ve argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it’s almost a gradation.
We have mortal sins, venial sins, well, up until Pius IX, there were times when we said, ‘Look, there are circumstances in which it’s wrong but it is not damnation. Along came Pius IX in the 1860s and declared in fine doctrine, this was the first time that it occurred that it was absolute human life and being at the moment of conception.
It’s always been a debate. I take my religion very seriously.
To sum it up, as a Catholic, I’m a John XXIII guy, I’m not a Pope John Paul guy.
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