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LA can improve good pro-life standards even more

While pro-life legislation received maximal publicity in North Dakota and Texas, with the attendant lawsuits after successful passage, this year as in all others Louisiana’s received little  comment and no challenges other than complaints from miffed representatives of merchants of death. It is this protective atmosphere that should set the stage for greater vigilance of life in the future by the state.

Before the 2013 legislative session, the state was named the most pro-life of all on the basis of its laws, and the overwhelming majorities both laws and resolutions alike that protect life receive annually from legislators attest to the deep enculturation that reverence for life has in Louisiana. But more can be done, and the starting point to derive optimal policy in this area is to emulate the conceptualization behind smoking restrictions.

The two issue areas share many similarities. Both acts are considered threats to the life of those who engage in the practice and therefore deserve heavy regulation, yet with the presumption that the activity is legal under certain conditions. The extensive regulation extends not just to individual actions, but also to the those of the suppliers.

But in a couple of ways, there is on the basis of the risk and danger involved fewer restrictions to abortion than there are to smoking. For one, while there is mild association of smoking with mortality, and even less between mortality and contact with smoke, this assumed indirectness is replaced by the very direct significant correlation between abortion and mortality for the one on which it is performed – some women are killed by the procedure – and a perfect, very direct correlation on the unborn human involved – they are killed; indeed, that is the entire intent. Also, regulations on tobacco use for some, minors, are absolute in prohibition, while in all states there are no absolutes for abortion; it is even possible in some places to have a partial-birth abortion under certain circumstances.

In both instances, given existing jurisprudence, the prevailing philosophy should be that the activity is recognized as legal but that the state may regulate it to the point that it discourages this highly, justified as engaging in it creates burdens on individuals other than those engaging in the behavior and may bring harm to that individual user. Yet it seems tobacco regulation is proportionally more zealous than that over abortion.

Keeping this framework in mind, going forward the state should adopt two legal changes. One, it should apply a tax on every attempted abortion. Not only does it already tax tobacco as a way to discourage its use, but it has a history of taxing users for their access to medical services; just this year it passed constitutional amendments for voter review next year that would add to that. If abortion is considered legally a medical service, then this is a proper step and the proceeds from which can be used for regulation of the five (a sixth is on the way) abortion mills in the state.

This would increase the cost of provision. But if the mills truly are there to perform a public service and truly care about women’s health, and it’s not all about the money to them, perhaps they will absorb that higher cost (which cannot be paid by state public funds). It also should spur behavior modification of women who think nothing of the consequences to human life when they put themselves in position to conceive.

Also, depending on how the constitutionality of North Dakota’s new law work out, standards should be changed to prohibit elective abortion on the basis of sex selection, fetal anomaly, or means of conception. Unborn humans should not be killed just because they don’t have the right specific equipment or their general equipment is damaged. While a case can be made to allow abortion in instances where there is agreement that the baby would not survive long outside of the womb without extreme medical intervention, a human with a genetic defect that likely will cause medical problems from mild to severe later in life should have the chance to decide on his own whether to live and not have that decision made by others. (As for the potential higher medical costs to the public that may result, Obamacare advocates promise that won’t be an issue, with its increased coverage, no preexisting conditions excluded, rates based on that disability not allowed, and its miraculous bending of the cost curve.)

While conception through rape or incest to an unwilling mother may appear unnecessarily punitive to an innocent victim, that crime produces victims is an inescapable fact of life. Some crime victims live the rest of their lives disabled because of a selfish, violent act. Such unfortunate women/girls will have at least nine months of physical effects, and possibly longer, because of a forced pregnancy. But balancing that against a human life, which should not be made worthless and disposable just because of means of conception, dictates on a moral basis that for some the after-effects of the crime will have to continue months longer than they like. Here, since harm is done either way we must choose to avoid the greater of the two. And with the evolution of pharmaceuticals that can prevent conception quickly after the attempt and with most victims reporting their violations immediately to authorities, these would be rare cases.

Louisiana is blessed to regard the lives of the most vulnerable so highly. Still, more can be done, which would be reflected in a continued high placement in a ranking that, unlike many others where the state finds itself, is enviable.

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