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Thursday, December 16, 2004

An Abortion Position on Which We Can All Agree

...and Which Will Never Be Embraced

When I taught "the study of choices" (Economics), I often made note that there are seldom issues that have just "two sides." When I asked students for an issue where "both sides" would cover all possibilities, they invariably came back with "abortion."

There are more than two sides to that issue, too, and I believe I've found one facet of the issue that should be supported by all intellectually-honest proponents, from "either side" of the main issue.

State-funded abortions are limited by a watered-down Hyde Amendment, which allows for state funding of abortions in the case of the endangerment of the life of the mother; or in cases or rape or incest.

The first condition, while possibly a topic for lawyers and doctors, is not part of this discussion. For the purpose of this discussion, I'll simply assume the requisite medical knowledge and judgment are available, and infallible. That's admittedly unrealistic; but it's the only way to stay on-topic.

Criteria for state-funded abortions come through the Social Security Administration. The criteria for determining whether taxpayers should pay, put the doctor in an automatic conflict of interest.

What does it take to get taxpayers to pay?

What determines, for the purposes of state funding, if a mother were a victim of rape or incest? A conviction would likely take longer than nine months. An arrest and indictment would often be quick enough for action; but there is no guarantee that the rapist's apprehension, or even identification, could be made in time.

At least in the case of incest, identification of the perpetrator would be less-problematic, but other factors (would this be fair to those who committed incest, if rapists got a better deal?) could make indictment an impossible roadblock.

What, then, is required, to have the tax dollars flow to the abortion clinics?

A police report, at a minimum, would be expected, to at least allege that a serious crime had been committed; but it's not a requirement. Even so much as a private statement, sworn-to by the mother, alleging the rape or incestuous act, is not required (although it is sufficient).

All that is required, for the doctor to insure his payment, is to himself allege that the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. That judgment, as nearly as I have been able to determine from numerous calls and questions, is not reviewed by Social Security: thus the doctor's obvious conflict of interest.

What could be done?

To remove this unfair temptation from doctors, and to prevent fraudulent claims, I propose that, before payment for Hyde Amendment abortions is made, the mother must file an official police report. That way, a case will be opened. If the perpetrator is eventually caught and convicted, he could reimburse the state for the cost of the abortion, as part of his sentencing. If the victim withdraws the charge, she must reimburse the state.

Many victims of rape do not want to make any charges; police and social workers all tell me that. But it's not about the mother's feelings -- it's about taxation, money, and fraud. The taxpayers have a right to expect fiscally responsible treatment of their money, and putting someone who stands to benefit from the tax money, in charge of it -- even a doctor -- that's irresponsible.

If the victim wants to participate in taxpayer-funded benefits, she will need to fill out the forms; that's how it's done in every other case, and it's the price of doing business with government. For government to merely give away money with no evidence, other than the signature of a person who is in an obvious conflict, is irresponsible, and invites fraud.

Why it won't happen:

Nobody wants to look at this. "Pro choice" advocates see this proposal as an attack on the viability of abortion as a business, as it reduces the abortion industry's power and money. "Pro life" advocates generally believe that anything that even recognizes the possibility of abortion is satanic. Abortion doctors get huffy, saying that their ethics and judgment are beyond reproach, or even review. Police don't like it, because they don't want to increase their caseload, and because they see these rapes as very different from the rapes they already have on their blotters. City bosses don't like it, because their communities' serious crime statistics would rise. District attorneys don't like it, because they don't want to add a bunch of losses to their records; or on the other hand, they don't want to dismiss these cases, and be seen as "soft on rape." Social workers don't want the beneficiary of the tax money to be "re-victimized;" that is, to do anything to help prevent their rapist from raping another, especially while increasing the social workers' paperwork-load.

All I'd like to do is get rid of the conflicts of interest, reduce the potential for fraud, and maybe help catch a rapist.

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