Thursday, October 4, 2007

I was so ahead of the curve on this

Matt Yglesias notes the results of polling by Third Way. The results were presaged here. The findings indicate that while many people think abortion constitutes taking a human life very few would want to send women to jail. In my post I speculated that if people truly believe that a fetus is a human being, then the penalty for abortion should be commensurate with that for murder. I hazarded a guess that most people would be unwilling to do this and lo' I am right.

If one thinks of the convicts who have been sympathetic figures it is not hard to imagine that the popularity of the pro-life movement would evaporate when film makers and journalists started chronicling the travails of women imprisoned for having abortions. That only 18 percent would be more than neutral to this is shocking when you consider the fact that 30 percent of the country classifies itself as evangelical Christians. And a commenter on Yglesias' post brings up a good point:

There's an easier way of avoiding the contradiction. I would guess that many people think abortion should be enforced with prison time only on the supply side, much the way locking up drug dealers or prostitutes is more popular than locking up their customers, who are more to be pitied than blamed.

So the support for putting the women in jail may be even lower. This is a common thing when people base beliefs on religious dogma rather than sober thought.

Maybe the pro-lifer crowd wants abortion to be punished with a small fine then. A better thing to do would be to simply mandate a price increase on the procedure. After all a fine could only be instituted if the offender were caught, while a price increase would be a net of finer mesh. This would put them in an ironic position. Undoubtedly as many of them are Republicans, the pro-lifers would be forced to shed their supposed aversion (as advocates of a free market) to government intervention not only in health care but also to the concept of price controls. But there isn't going to be a penalty then what is the point of making it illegal. And if the punishments aren't equivalent to those given for murder then how can someone be convinced that a human life was taken?

A YouTube painfully illustrates this. They haven't given it much thought.

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