Saturday, March 26, 2005

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

Sometimes I wonder how many generations of inbreeding it takes to produce someone capable of developing and/or defending such inherently illogical positions. Case in point: The Hyde Amendment which lays out the rules for government funding of abortion procedures.

Under 10 U.S.C. § 1093(a) (2000), DOD funds (which includes insurance coverage of miltary personnel and their families) may not be used to perform an abortion except when the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy going to term, rape & incest. In August of 2002, a 19 year old Navy wife petitioned the federal court to obtain an
abortion when, 18 weeks into her pregnancy, she found out the fetus she was carrying suffered from anencephaly. Knowing that anencephaly is incompatible with viability, she won her case and terminated the pregnancy. Two years later, the federal government is fighting the couple trying to get reimbursement of $3,000 it cost for the procedure and using the case to ensure a complete ban on government funded abortions in line with the Hyde amendment. Government attorneys have consistently used moral arguments against abortion in fighting the couple (as well as in a previous case with similar circumstances Britell vs the United States).

The govenment has consistently claimed that section 1093(a) is constitutional because the statute is rationally related to legitimate state interests and suggests several possible legitimate governmental objectives in justification of section 1093(a):
  1. the protection and promotion of potential human life;
  2. the creation of a bright-line rule that no birth defect justifies the use of federal funds for abortion; and
  3. the accommodation of taxpayers who are strongly and sincerely opposed to abortion by not expending taxpayer funds on abortion.

To address the first justification, it must be noted that anencephaly is a fatal condition; unless the government mandates a high level of intervention to prolong the life of an anencephalic baby >as long as possible after birth (even in cases of medical futility), the government is not promoting the potential of life of these children by preventing abortion, it is promoting a prolongation of the death process for them.

In response to item #2 above, this justification flies in direct contrast to the limits set forth by the Hyde amendment itself (as does item #1 above). The Hyde amendment allows for government funding of abortion in cases of rape (in which there's no reason to assume any birth defect) and incest (in which it is assumed there is a higher likelihood of genetic defect). The physical health of mothers carrying children under these circumstances is no more directly impacted than pregnancy under any other condition. If the government's true intent is to protect and promote the potential for human life, it would make significantly more sense for a ban on use of government funding of abortions in cases of rape & incest while funding those in which the embryo/fetus has a significant genetic/developmental defect, especially those that are fatal.

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