Friday, April 21, 2006

Ironic Hypocrites

In a recent oped, Harry Reid and Hillary! together display those two traits I look for in Senators (especially of the Democratic stripe): tendentiousness and stupidity. Though on the opposite ends of the abortion debate, the point of their oped seems to be that they still hate Republicans, and you can too even if you are pro life. The Hatcher knows this from personal experience, because I have a very pro-life Catholic uncle who likes to tell me that my party and religion are completely incompatible – that I can’t be both. Anyway, Reid and Hillary! were saying that we all should agree that reducing unwanted pregnancies would lead to fewer abortions, and that discrimination against women along with irony and hypocrisy, all coming from the bastard pro-lifers of the Republican stripe (who, by the way, for all of their discrimination against women, arguably have aborted millions less of them). They were pushing legislation to make contraceptive care affordable. A couple of paragraphs display those two favored traits – stupidity and tendentiousness – in spades.

It also ends insurance discrimination against women. Right now, many policies cover Viagra, but not prescription contraceptives. That is wrong, and our legislation will change it.

Hillary! is supposed to be the healthcare guru, but this paragraph makes it clear she doesn’t understand why insurance markets exist. No one buys insurance that permit one to purchase milk that is fully reimbursable, and insurance that permits you to buy contraceptives is not offered for the same reason. Anyone who wants that particular feature in their insurance coverage is clearly a person who plans to use that feature – and the insurance companies know this – so the premium would just reflect the expected cost of buying the contraceptives outright. And if you make everybody purchase the same coverage, so that even those who don’t want contraceptives have to pay a premium that reflects their cost, you would be subsidizing those who do, but you’d also increase the cost of insurance for those not interested in that particular benefit. This would lead to fewer people being insured. I’m guessing she has a fix for that problem, too. But lack of a subsidy is not the same as discrimination.

Viagra is covered because it shares the common feature of all items covered by any type of insurance – it mitigates the bad consequences of an unanticipated adverse event – namely the failure one day to be able to get, in the immortal words of Sam Malone, the old evinrude cranking. Now, to some extent every insurance package has coverage of events that are not completely random, and for which the probability of the adverse event occurring is partially affected by the behavior of the insured person. Pregnancy is one of them. But even though pregnancy is somewhat in our control, complications during it are not, so again there is a reason for insurance markets to handle it.

The suggestion that insurance that doesn’t cover contraceptives but does cover Viagra is discriminatory against women is both tendentious and stupid! (qed) Also, and I don’t expect Hillary! to know this, sexual intimacy is an important aspect of the marriage bond, so the failure to get the evinrude cranking is an adverse event to both the man and the woman.

Ironically, those advocating the loudest for an outright ban on abortion are too often the same people who oppose prevention initiatives and instead support making contraception less accessible, particularly for low-income women who are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies.

This is not the meaning of irony, not by a long shot. Later in the same article, they refer to it as hypocrisy. The two are not synonyms.

For example, a recent analysis by the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute revealed that South Dakota is one of the most difficult states for low-income women to obtain contraceptives.

Ahh, South Dakota – the coming battleground in the abortion debate. The state legislature has banned abortion and this will likely be the first case seen by the newly composed Supreme Court where the state law directly contradicts the penumbrad precedent of Roe v. Wade. When this first passed, my first thought was that the law would never get challenged because the only 5 women left living in South Dakota were in their late sixties. But it turns out there are some young-ens on the old Indian Reservation who want to preserve the right to make one of their number truly the Last Mohican. Rather sad, if you ask me, that a culture so revered in the politically correct revisionist history for its once legendary harmony with nature should be the one relied upon by pro-choicers to break the old circle of life. Maybe Elton John should write an ironic song about that!

The term “unwanted” pregnancy is a euphemism. Really it is the kid that is not wanted, not the pregnancy. To admit you didn’t want a particular kid to continue to live (even if not in your care) would be rightly viewed as monstrous. And I’d venture to guess that the term was not an open term fifty years ago – a pregnancy may have been unplanned, but the culture at the time would have frowned upon a statement that a kid is unwanted. Not always planned, but blessings seldom are. At some point, that cultural consensus was lost, and it may never be recovered, but you can probably place the loss of consensus in time to the emergence of widespread affordable contraception, which also stoked the demand for abortion. You can argue that their legislation will in fact reduce unwanted pregnancies, but it will do nothing to reverse the troubling view that a kid is like a consumer good for which there is a right time to buy and a wrong time to buy. Maybe that view makes me an ironic hypocrite, but you’d have to be a tendentious moron to think so!


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Imagine what the abortion debate would be like if people just spoke in plain language, all the time.

"Hillary, do you support a woman's right to kill her unborn baby?"

"Yes, a woman should be able to have a doctor kill the unborn baby anytime during the pregnancy. If a woman has an unwanted child, she should be able to kill him or her."

"My husband bill vetoed a ban on stabbing the unborn baby's head with scissors & sucking his or her brain out with a vacuum."

I have long thought that the abortion issue really is not that complicated if you start with the premise that 'we really can't kill the unborn baby'.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

The problem is that people don't always agree on what "plain language" means.

For example, even as a cruel, vicious pro-choicer, I complete agree with the esteemed dirigible that only a horrific country would have a law that provides "If a woman has an unwanted child, she should be able to kill him or her."

However, I don't believe that the single-cell organism that is a newly fertilized egg is anything close to "child" nor do I believe that it deserves a particularly strong set of rights.

Furthermore, I disgree with Hatch that, "Really it is the kid that is not wanted, not the pregnancy."
Given the fact that many women choose abortion when adoption is a perfectly legal and ehtical means of getting rid of an unwanted child suggests that for many it is indeed, at least in part, the pregnancy that is an issue.

I bet if you offered a magic pill to women considering an abortion that would instantly allow their fetus to pop out of their body, turn into a newborn, healthy baby, and get whisked off to an reputable adoption agency, that a huge portion of these pregnant women would choose this pill over adoption.

Of course, I'm sure my wife, who is currently 7 1/2 months pregnant, would be tempted by this magic pill as well (minus the being whisked off to the adoption agency part...).

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a pro lifer, I often have difficulty seeing any merit to the other side. Recently however, I heard a pretty good piece on NPR about El Salvador's anti abortion laws. In El Salvador, according to the report, they try the woman who had the abortion for murder. While the story did not change my fundamental belief that life begins at conception and abortion is flat out wrong, the lawyer in me began to wonder how the laws would be written and enforced in the states that passed anti abortion statutes if Roe got overturned.

The argument about the cost of contraception being a burden on low income people is crap. A box of Lifestyles only costs a couple of bucks at any convenience store. I bet Planned Parenthood hands out entire strips of jimmie caps for free just for the asking.

Hatch, you do touch on the problem with health insurance and health care in this country. Insurance is supposed to cover unforeseen events. Yet, health insurance covers everyday healthcare expenses. It is like submitting your grocery bill to your insurance carrier. Yet, even the insured who suffer a truly unforeseen event like cancer, have to worry about financial ruin the medical bills will cause.

I have often proposed over glasses of Chartreuse the solution is to have a policy that provides unlimited healthcare, with a $5,000 yearly deductible. The cost of such a policy would only be a fraction of what the average person pays today. Yet, in the case of a chronic illness, the insured would not have to worry about financial ruin.

When I mention this to the average person, they always balk and state something about how everyday visits to the doctor should be covered. Sometimes I think the whole world is drunk on Chartreuse and I am the only one that's sober.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Hatcher does his best to argue that insurance plans are justified in not covering contraceptives based on the premise that contraceptives do not "mitigate the consequences of an unanticipated adverse event", it is not surprising that he fails to consider the possibility of rape. I would absolutely classify rape as an "unanticipated adverse event", and I would certainly claim that contraceptives can "mitigate the consequences" of rape.

Perhaps this begs the question of whether or not women actually take contraceptives purely for the purpose of mitigating the consequences of rape. I really couldn't say, but surely there's a standard within the insurance industry that defines the manner in which an adverse event takes place? How would this standard be applied to unwanted pregnancy?

I certainly do not know the answers to these questions, but I'm pretty sure there's a decent case for insurance plans covering contraceptives based on the possibility of rape. Maybe the fact alone that Viagra is covered by insurance plans is reason enough for the same plans to cover contraceptives...

1:57 PM  

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