Politics, Economics, and the Law
The Never-Ending Saga of Reproductive Rights
February 1, 2012Posted by on
Ross Douthat discusses the wisdom of the Obama administration’s mandate that all employer-provided health insurance plans must provide coverage for contraception, etc. This applies even to religious institution which diagree with such practices and procedures on moral grounds. This move has been lauded as a positive development for women’s rights, but I think that’s short-sighted, and misses the larger point. It’s worth remembering that the hand that gives is the hand that can take away, and compelling someone to provide a product or service doesn’t strike me as morally different from prohibiting them from doing so. Even if you assume the current administration is serving the interests you want served, there’s no guarantee that a future administration will serve those same interests, and you’ve just given them broad, sweeping powers.
On the other end of things, the Kansas legislature is considering a bill to provide legal protection (HB 2523) to medical professionals who refuse to provide abortions, or drugs that they believe will be used to end a pregnancy. In this case, “legal protection” means making it illegal for the employer’s of such people to fire or sanction them. I wonder how the would play out, going toe-to-toe with the federal mandate?
Also in Kansas, HB 2598 is roaming the House. It purports to prohibit the use of public money on abortions, but given the bill is 68 pages long, and written in the typical style of legislation, it’s hard to say what all lurks there, waiting to be sprung upon an unsuspecting public, and careless legislators who did as I did, and only read about the first page and a half. Just skimming through it, there are references to textbooks, aircraft, and tax deductions. Does anyone want to read this beast for me and tell me to what it all applies?
HB 2579, a mercifully short piece of legislation, appears to be aiming for the same end-effect of the ‘Personhood’ Amendment, but without the trouble of changing the Kansas constitution. The language of the bill is also much less inflammatory. Is this an attempt at and end-run around?
All of the above mentioned laws, orders, and bills are objectionable, each in their own special way, but by and large for the same basic reasons. If one truly desires to live in a free society, and not merely to live in a society that’s free for oneself, then you have to allow others to conduct themselves in accordance with their own moral outlook (Assuming, naturally, that their moral outlook isn’t directly harming you. A free society needn’t allow Thuggee cults to roam free.) A policy of “freedom for me, but not for thee” simply won’t cut it.