Abortion & Healthcare Policy

From Evolutionist-X” In Defense of Planned Parenthood

On numerous occasions, this blog has argued that Republicans could support abortion as a way of reducing entitlement spending and crime, which I discuss further here.

The usual rebuttal is that this is the policy of Margaret Sanger and other liberals. Maybe fifty years ago, but nowadays if a liberal like Hillary tried to frame abortion in the context of reducing entitlement spending and crime, her campaign would be over because of the left. When William Bennett made a comment about abortion and crime, it was the left who attacked him. Same for Steven Levitt in Freakanomics in which the chapter on how abortion can reduce crime received much criticism from civil rights groups, but also some criticism from the right. The welfare left supports abortion not to potentially make the world a better place, but due to a lack of impulse control, as a form of ’empowerment’ for women. And just because a liberal supported something a couple generations ago, doesn’t prove it’s necessarily bad today or that Republicans should totally disregard any merit of it, and today’s welfare SJW liberals are much further to the ‘left’ than the classical/pragmatic liberals of generations ago.

From From Jonathan Gruber’s 1998 study:

…for the marginal child not born due to increased abortion access, the odds of living in a single parent family would have been roughly 70 percent higher, the odds of living in poverty nearly 40 percent higher, the odds of welfare receipt 50 percent higher.”… “From these results, we estimate that the legalization of abortion saved the federal government over $14 billion in welfare payments through 1994.”

Abortion is disgusting, but so is cleaning up crime scenes. I think rather than immediately dismissing it is ‘bad’ we need to consider the possible good that can come out of it, at least from a utilitarian/pragmatist perspective.

Some people find the idea of utilitarianism, as well as thought experiments such as the Trolley Car, to be an affront to their moral sensibilities, since sometimes the most optimal allocation of a resource often comes at a cost to something someone else holds dear. Some are unsettled by the idea that the value of a human can be reduced to a number, but if you have insurance (health, auto, home) – that is exactly what it is, an attempt to assign a monetary value to a human life in order to price a policy, yet when the argument is framed differently (trolley car or abortion), these very people become mortified at the premise that human life does indeed have a finite value, or that some lives may be more valuable than others. ‘Pro life’ taken to its extreme would be mean no war and no death penalty – both positions many Republicans, who identify as ‘pro life’, support. So why does this contradiction exist? I suppose because they rationalize from a utilitarian standpoint that the possible loss of some innocent lives (the occasionally wrongly executed individual, soldiers dying, or collateral damage) indirectly serves a greater good (preventing more deaths both directly and indirectly), justifying this utilitarian risk/reward trade-off.

But economics, which studies the allocation of scarce resources among people, is an inescapable part of our everyday lives, at both the individual and national level. The discussion or debate of how a finite amount of a public good (tax payer dollars, for example) will not simply ‘go away’ just because some people get offended; we need to learn to accept economic reality even if we occasionally get offended by the outcome. This is where some pro-lifers fail by holding all life, viable or not, to be sacred, which runs afoul of rules of economics.

My stance on it is, if you need round the clock care to perform everyday tasks, like going to the bathroom and eating, and you have to have someone make all your decisions till the day you die, because you’re physically in capable of doing so, you’re more of a burden than anything.

The Unpopular Puffin may have a point, and considering that it went viral on Reddit, many people apparently agree. In the recesses of our minds, we know that certain individuals are a drain on society, but we fear the consequences (loss of friends, employment) of voicing this unpleasant truth. And from Wikipedia:

In the United States, the average lifetime cost of a person with an intellectual disability amounts to $1,014,000 per person, in 2003 US dollars.[52] This is slightly more than the costs associated with cerebral palsy, and double that associated with serious vision or hearing impairments. About 14% is due to increased medical expenses (not including what is normally incurred by the typical person), 10% is due to direct non-medical expenses, such as the excess cost of special education compared to standard schooling, and 76% is indirect costs accounting for reduced productivity and shortened lifespans. Some expenses, such as costs associated with being a family caregiver or living in a group home, were excluded from this calculation.[52]

Let’s consider the case of an expectant middle-income mother whose ultrasound uncovers that her fetus has Trisomy 13 or 18, a highly lethal genetic anomaly; in the event it’s not a stillborn, it will cost about a million dollars a year to keep it alive. Economically, that is a poor use of a public good (tax payer dollars), especially since the baby, profoundly disabled, will never contribute in any meaningful way to society in its short existence. To the mother, the baby could be priceless, but to society it’s not. Even Trisomy 21, which is less lethal, is still very expensive. Sure, if the mother has millions of dollars she can use her own money to keep it alive – and that should be within her right – but when a public good is involved, the question of rationing inevitably comes up, as to be expected. That million dollars can be better spent helping babies that are much less disabled. The plan of prenatal screening, with required abortions for severe abnormalities, could make the process less painful for parents, since the pregnancy would be ended before it gets to the second trimester or beyond.

Rapid advances in biotechnology means we can use screening and genetic engineering to create a better society by choosing who we want in and which traits we wish to leave behind. Before dismissing this as ‘Nazi science’, there are many practical applications. Consider the Dylan Roof spree killing, as well as other tragedies such as Sandy Hook massacre and the 2012 Aurora shooting. As it turns out, there may be a genetic malfunction to blame, and some people may in fact be programmed to kill.

Related: Steven Levitt is Right, Not All Life is Sacred