Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Issues Aren't Effectively Addressed By Throwing Laws At Them

I recently read a blog post where the author stated :

I would like to end all abortions. I have not seen that happen in conservative administrations and I don't think Roe v. Wade will be changed. But there is hope for change from the bottom up grass roots and from the top down.

My response to her follows below:

I believe that some issues are not most effectively addressed by throwing laws at them. I think the Prohibition era, when alcohol was made illegal, much in the same way drugs are today, is a good example which has relevant parallels to abortion. That is, abortion has existed as long as history -- or at least as long as we've had laws regulating sexual activity -- and desperate women will always seek the, no matter the danger.

As illegal alcohol (and illegal drugs and prostitution) provide organized crime with avenues for making money, I think a return to an outran ban on abortion would return abortion to the hands of organized crime. Rich women will always have a choice as they can travel to get what they want, but the less affluent and particularly the poor will be relegated to organized crime sources -- if they're lucky -- and back alley do-it-yourself hacks, coathangers and other dangerous means if they're not. Thus, the outright banning of abortion wouldn't make abortion stop, any more than banning alcohol, drugs, or prostitution has eliminated those activities. It just makes them more dangerous. Plus, you add a whole lot of mothers dying along with their unborn children.

Thus, using law as a way to address abortion and other similar "vice crimes" isn't particularly effective and it costs millions of dollars and millions of headaches to prosecute. Plus it opens up another can of worms with violating the right to privacy and right to bodily integrity.

I think a more effective goal than the outright banning of abortion is to seek to reduce abortions, while at the same time allowing it to remain safe and legal. (Similarly, I think that drug and alcohol abuse and, in some aspects, prostitution, ought to be addressed as medical issues rather than legal ones.)

How is this done? There are several approaches, all of which should be used. First of all is to address the reasons why women choose abortion and to ameliorate the problems there, which are mainly related to poverty and lack of supportive resources for parents of young children.

Secondly is education, which is to support comprehensive sex education in the schools so young people know how to prevent pregnancies before they happen. This goes hand in hand with supporting all forms of birth control and research into newer, more effective and more safe options. Education is also needed to reduce the stigma against non-marital sexual expression and single parents.

Third, the foster care and adoption system in this country needs to be fixed. Presently there are hundreds of thousands of children languishing in foster care, many of whom will never be adopted. If abortion is outlawed across the board, where will all the extra children who are put up for adoption go? As an aside, I find it incomprehensible that when there are so many children available for adoption in our own country, that many couples go overseas to adopt children, China being a favorite choice.

Also, with a decade of seeing abused children while working as a cop, I can tell you that the child welfare services are overburdened and frequently do not adequately serve the children they are charged to protect. In many instances, they get there too late for the children. There's generally a lot of time and bureaucracy involved before a child is removed permanently from defective parents, as the mindset is to try to keep the family together and give the parent every chance to straighten up. So, even if the worst doesn't happen, the child often ends up being bounced from pillar to post, from foster care to home to foster care to home in a vicious circle, that leaves the kid to grow up emotionally scarred in any instance. And in the worst cases, it's hard for me not to think that abortion might have been the lesser evil in such cases.

So, for the reasons listed above, I could never support an outright ban on abortion. It's not a simple issue and there are not and can not be simple solutions.

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