Edge of Chaos is a political podcast starring Joe Ryan and Neurotoxin. Its aim is to have a free-flowing discussion of news and current events that also examines the empirical outcomes of public policy, avoiding biases based on ideology and policy intentions. Listener discretion is both advised and encouraged.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Neurotoxin's Response to SCOTUS (lack of) Action On TX Abortion

(Note: This is in response to a request for comment by a patron. All patrons are welcome and encouraged to submit such requests, and can specify if they want Joe or I to comment if they choose.)

Firstly, it's important to point out that the Supreme Court has NOT yet ruled on the Constitutionality of Texas's anti-abortion law. They were asked by Planned Parenthood to stop the law's implementation UNTIL they rule on it, and they denied that request.

That being said, this situation is complicated and represents many ongoing political trends in this country, and overall I see a lot of positive outcomes in the long-run.

Clarifying My Stance On Abortions

I am rabidly opposed to all anti-abortion laws. Laws that restrict what people can do to their own bodies are completely unenforceable and even the most ruthless totalitarian dictatorships have always failed miserably to elicit compliance to them. Non-compliance breeds violent black markets peddling products with no quality control and immeasurable enforcement waste. In the case of abortion, we are talking about a black market for a complex medical procedure where the lack of quality control will mean 1000s of deaths and 10,000s of disabling injuries yearly; as well as the pleasant expenditure of law enforcement futilely trying to crack down on poor and desperate women. These costs will invariably be shared by society as a whole in rising health care demand, incarcerations, disabled citizens, orphaned children, and so forth. In the case of abortion we are also talking about a decision that is physically and emotionally devastating to any woman that makes it, and only a complete lunatic can believe that women willing to go through THAT will be stopped by prohibition.

The morality of abortion should not be a political issue. Ideological consensus is genuinely impossible, but there is a practical consensus that abortions are dangerous and undesirable and most of the fighting is over acceptable means of reducing resorting to them. I have no problem with proponents of traditional cultural values as the answer. But they should focus on getting involved in their religious institutions to re-engage young people and give them alternatives to self-destructive and careless indulgence. They should also realize that not everyone shares their values and that participation will be maximized by keeping it welcoming, voluntary, and tolerant. Militant fundamentalism that seeks to take over government and shove these values down others' throats is not only horrendously counter-productive, it breeds resistance and a negative view of religion, and is the polar opposite of what every religion in the world teaches. On the other hand, sex education for adolescents is not only a good idea, it's an empirically proven means of significantly reducing a wide variety of health risks including abortions. However, advocates of this and other liberal approaches of openness and harm reduction ought to actually live up to those terms, and that includes seeking consensus with conservative organizations that oppose them by remembering this is about health and safety as opposed to promiscuity. The militant victim-feminism with which these lobbies try to seize control of government so they can expand restrictions on expression they find objectionable, pass economically irresponsible business regulations, and give millions in tax dollars to unaccountable private organizations drives moderates and swing-blocs like libertarians into the enemy camp, ESPECIALLY when we're called misogynous bigots for not fervently supporting their narrow, single-issue visions. The problem with government and regulation as a solution to anything is that it invariably has to use force to instill the values of one group on another, and there is no more tragic example than the disgusting pissing match between fundamentalists and feminazis over abortion.

Regulation Abuse

In light of this, worst-of-all-worlds compromises - like Bush Jr's 'abstinence only' which forbids both the conservatives' and liberals' effective methods outlined above - are really not surprising. Where there are opposing militant ideologies on both sides of an issue, there will invariably surface a group of scumbag centrist politicians craftily co-opting one side to pen divorced-from-reality legislation for the profit of their affiliates. Obama co-opted concerned Progressives that want health care access for the poor for the corporatist scam that is Obamacare, and Rick Perry co-opted Texas's rural evangelicals for a regulation that drives all the abortion profit toward urban hospitals where his family are major stakeholders. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU USE GOVERNMENT TO ENFORCE IDEOLOGY.

Regulation abuse of this nature has plagued the US for over 100 years, but recently we've seen an unprecedented surge of questioning it on empirical rather than ideological grounds. Rick Perry's escapade is more abusive and shameless than most and he picked a very wrong time to taunt that empirical bull. The legal case against this is not about abortion but about abusing regulations for unrelated ideological objectives. This is groundbreaking, and if the Supreme Court rules against Rick Perry it will set a precedent for a long-overdue cleansing of the country of such laws - at all levels and from all sides of the political spectrum. However, I think the SCOTUS will most likely refuse to take up the case to avoid ruling in either direction, effectively leaving Perry's law in place. Should that happen, the backlash at the State level is likely to escalate and even spread to other States, making social liberals viable candidates in red States but only if they can appeal to moderates and libertarians that want LESS regulatory invasion.

States' Rights?

Although I would like the Supreme Court to throw out Perry's law, one positive of them likely keeping it is a move toward States re-asserting autonomy. Liberals who are concerned that this will lead multiple States to become fiefdoms of theocracy and active discrimination are simply ignorant of modern political attitudes. Even for red States, the supportive data for how they expect things to end up is more than 50 years outdated. Sure, a few conservative States like Mississippi may initially pass some very objectionable laws in response to the Feds' renewed neutrality. But we're NOT in the 1960s and the backlash to this will in fact drive the theofascist elements in their governments into their long-overdue grave within a decade. We are already witnessing this in Texas where a female, liberal Democrat is actually a viable candidate for Governor - a year ago I myself was trying to convince Joe such a thing couldn't happen. This change is good for the country because such States spawn politicians stuck in the 19th century like Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin as a result of their residents' detachment from State and local politics. A pressing need to take control of their State capitals and party organizations will bring a desperately needed cleansing of the old, deranged country clubs in control of them.

In summary, this is messy and I feel for the short-term pain of the poor stuck in the middle of it. But the mere fact that this is a front-line national issue is very good news and a sign of change - change in which smaller government, anti-Federalist elements that want to run roughshod over the tired old left-right establishments appear almost guaranteed a long-term victory.


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