Politics, Economics, and the Law
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.
Today, while poking around for some other bit of legislation, I remembered that I’d said I’d post the bill number, and full text, of the Personhood Amendment. So here it is.
The bill is much shorter than I’d have assumed it would be. I’m not sure how it compares to the Colorado or Mississippi versions, as I’ve not read them. Without a doubt my favorite parts is the wording of the explanatory statements, chiefly the statement concerning what it means to vote against the bill:
“A vote against this proposition would not amend the constitution, in which case the current federally mandated legal status of preborn humans would remain that of a class of human beings that can intentionally be killed.”
Speaking of abortion, you may have already read elsewhere that Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey has introduced a bill to ban the use of aborted fetuses in food. To my knowledge, and near as I can tell to the collective knowledge of pretty much everyone else on the planet, this is not something that is currently being done, nor is it something that anyone is presently planning to do. Despite my own tendency to assume that anything horrible that can happen probably will, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over the possibility of this being a problem in the future, either. Ken, at ‘Popehat,’ wrote about the legislation in question, and I’m inclined to agree that Mr. Shortey has perhaps been spending too much time perusing Geocities pages.
Reading the full text of the bill, I’m confused that it specifies only that it shall be illegal to manufacture or sell food or other products made from aborted fetuses that are intended for human consumption. Are we to assume that Senator Shortey is totally okay with aborted fetus rawhides for the dog, or aborted fetus Fancy Feast for the discerning cat in your home? I’ll let you speculate among yourselves whether this oversight is because there exists some developing industry for aborted fetus bits’n’pieces, and they are financing the Senator’s re-election fund. It could also explain why Personhood hasn’t introduced a constitutional amendment in Oklahoma.
Robin Marty points out that, unlike Colorado and Mississippi where Personhood has already failed, the issue would be put to a vote on August 7th, when voting is done for primaries, instead of on the same day as the general election. This is a strategic move, and is doubtless meant to ensure that the voters who turn out to cast their ballots on the issue are more likely to be the partisan, hard-line conservatives that Personhood needs to ensure passage.
I still wouldn’t panic, as I’m not totally sold on it getting the required two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to allow it to come to a vote (though Governor Brownback will surely sign it, if it does), but it is something to keep an eye on and prepare to fight.
I’ve not yet found the bill number for this, but will post it when I do so that you can read the full text.
KAKE News reports that ‘Personhood’ will be pursuing a constitutional amendment to ban abortions in the state of Kansas. My guess is that the wording and approach will be almost identical to Amendment 26, which failed in Mississippi in November.
The measure would have to pass by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate in order to get on the ballot. ‘Personhood’ claims to have twenty-five senators on board already. This is a state whose state school board lengthily debated teaching intelligent design, which is enough to give you pause when considering what the legislature might do. On the other hand, voters ousted a majority of the board members responsible for that embarrassment, so perhaps the general public is more clever than it first lets on.
Only time will tell if this gains traction, and I wouldn’t venture a guess this early in the game.
(And, lest I forget, props to S., who writes at ‘beevomit’, for being the first to make me aware of this.)