of an earlier blog.
modest proposal is re-posted in response to a Rachel Maddow item from Facebook
Modest Proposal in response to one of my Facebook friend’s commentary about
former Republican Senator Alan Simpson’s assertion that male elected
representatives should not vote on abortion laws. See:
So here’s a modest proposal, based
on the premise that it’s irrational to demand that a public health problem be
solved but at the same time be adamantly opposed to the methods of solving it.
The public health problem in this case is one we know how to solve, namely,
unwanted pregnancy. The methods of solving it are readily available, safe,
extensively tested, and found to be effective, at least at the individual
level. It’s a well-known and widely-accepted fact that long-term effects of
this particular public health problem fall unequally on the sexes, with the
female being physically affected, subjected to potential medical complications,
and traditionally burdened with nearly two decades of direct responsibility for
the care, feeding, and education of another human being, whereas the male’s
participation in this responsibility is largely voluntary or, when involuntary,
limited to financial contribution. Because the large majority of state
legislators are male and claim to understand public policy, my modest proposal
is perfectly capable of being carried out at the state level, at least, and
should be carried out in those states imposing severe restrictions on elective
abortions. The main points are:
(1) Immediately enact a so-called
“life tax” to provide for public funding of “life services,” defined as
prenatal health care, treatment for medical conditions arising from pregnancy,
and care, including medical care, clothing, food, shelter, and both education
and special education as needed, for any infant born to a mother who would
otherwise have chosen to abort it. Life services would continue until the child
is 18 years old.
(2) Establish residency
requirements, for access to such support, similar to those already established,
for example, for tuition at a state’s post-secondary institutions.
(3) Establish a means test for
access to such support. The federal government already has established
guidelines for access to other social services, and means testing is already in
place for Medicare premiums, so enacting such a test for “life tax” services
should be easy to accomplish.
(4) Require DNA testing of mother,
infant, and father (when the father can be ascertained) when an infant is born
to a mother who would otherwise have aborted it. Costs of such testing would be
paid by life tax revenues. If necessary, use test results to identify the
father. Require, by law, the father to contribute half of the costs incurred in
providing life services to mother and infant, and provide for an 18-year lien
on the father’s earnings if necessary, with an extension to such time as the
state is re-paid half of the life services costs by the father. Include in this
law a provision that the father’s parents are liable for this contribution if
the father is a minor.
(5) Immediately establish
sex-education programs in all public schools, the curriculum to include
effective contraception. Withhold certification from private schools that do
not institute such a curriculum.
(6) Immediately provide birth
control services for all individuals who want them but are unable to afford
them. Pay for these services through the life tax. Services would include oral
contraceptives, Plan B, condoms, patches, injections, and all other forms of
artificial birth control to individuals over the age of 14. These services
would be available in school health centers.
(7) In the event that an infant born
to a mother who would otherwise have obtained an abortion requires long-term
care or services due to a congenital condition, then such care and services
would be provided by the state and funded by life tax revenues.
(8) In the event that pregnancy
results from rape or incest, the mother would receive a lifetime stipend for
carrying the fetus to term and the state would fund all services resulting from
this birth, including counseling, adoptive services, and treatment of any
medical conditions, including mental or emotional ones, resulting from the
conception and delivery of this infant. In the case of rape or incest,
residency and means requirements do not apply.
(10) The overall impact of this
program, including life tax and life services, will be reviewed every ten years
by qualified consultants from outside the state. Life tax will be adjusted
annually to ensure revenues adequate to support life services programs.
I don’t know what the tax base is
for North Dakota, but a VERY rough estimate, based on the widely available
information on costs of rearing children in the United States, and North
Dakota’s population, would fall in the range of $500,000 per non-aborted fetus,
if you add in the overhead costs of administering the above program. North
Dakota reported 1,290 abortions in 2009, so we’re looking at somewhere in the
vicinity of $645 billion over
the next 18-20 years to provide life services as part of this male legislative
action to deal with the problem of unwanted pregnancy. Alternatively, of
course, that $645 billion
would be paid by those who would have had an elective abortion but could not
because of the law or other de facto
restrictions on reproductive services, and that’s assuming that the individuals
involved actually had the resources to pay these bills.
We have, of course, not even started
to consider the social costs of unwanted pregnancy brought to term, and I’m not
sure there is any real way to calculate those costs so that the public in
general, and male legislators in particular, appreciate their impact on
society. We do know that social factors such as lack of education, poverty, and
crime are linked at least to some degree, and that “quality of life” factors
are important for the attraction of business to a particular region. So in
essence, the $645 billion
should probably be considered a conservative estimate of the overall impact of
unwanted pregnancy on the State of North Dakota.