Tag: Choice

Should Roe v. Wade Stand?

 

The United States Supreme Court put abortion on center stage for its 2021–22 term last week when it agreed to review Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In Dobbs, the Fifth Circuit upheld the Mississippi Gestational Age Act, which prohibits, except in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormalities, abortions after fifteen weeks of gestational age. That statute is commonly understood to be in stark conflict with the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which holds that a women’s right of privacy—itself nowhere explicitly stated in the Constitution—is “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy” before the fetus is viable, estimated at roughly twenty-four weeks of gestational age. The balancing test of Roe was explicitly affirmed and further developed in the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, which concluded that the state’s “profound interest in potential life” is not “strong” enough to block an abortion or to impose an “undue burden” on that right.

Despite constant attacks on its constitutional pedigree, Roe has been affirmed by “an unbroken line” of cases, as the Fifth Circuit noted in Dobbs. Even so, the deep unease about Roe was clearly articulated in Judge James Ho’s concurring opinion, which acknowledged the precedential force of Roe only to sharply attack its methodological underpinnings for giving insufficient weight to the state’s interest. Though the Mississippi law posed three challenges to the current Roe/Casey synthesis, the court granted the state’s petition for certiorari solely on one question: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The court declined to review on the temporizing question of whether, under the Roe/Casey framework, the Mississippi statute posed an “undue burden” on the abortion right.

Defenders of Roe view the case as an all-or-nothing choice. Thus, Emily Cain (of EMILY’s List) lamented that this “consequential” order now reveals the Republican goal “to overturn Roe and take away the right [for women] to make their own health care decisions.” Republicans, for their part, do not deny that charge, but insist that their tireless efforts to elect pro-life legislators has been vindicated by the grant of certiorari.

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At the end of Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy, the reader learns that Mrs. Vestergaard will be opening a dance school.  Having been an orphan herself, those who were orphans would be given the preference of attending a dancing school over those who were not.                 At first, this idea sounded lovely. Orphaned […]

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The other day I put up a post about my experience in the Soviet Union and compared that to what Bernie Sanders had to say after his trip to the USSR. In the comments someone mentioned that Sanders said we had too many choices in America, something that you do not see when central planners […]

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I Think This Is True

 

From a year-old NR essay:

In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era. Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters.

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California enacted a controversial law last year, known as SB277, that abolished the religious and personal-belief exemptions to state-mandated child vaccinations. One remaining exemption, however, is at the heart of the law: the physician exemption. Under that exemption, if your child is contraindicated (that is, medical circumstances suggest your child is more likely to suffer […]

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“They Become Disgusted With our Manner of Life”

 

Castalia Ohio, bike ride of Labor Day 1998 - where a War of 1812 captivity story began.Some of us on Ricochet have been wondering how to teach people to prefer the liberty of free markets to the security of socialism. Others have been lecturing us about how capitalism has made life fantastically better for humans.

Each time one of these discussions comes up, I wish people here knew more about Indian captivity narratives — the true ones, that is. These stories have been popular in North America since the late 1600s, though not always been viewed as essential knowledge.

I learned of a new one today while working in the archives of the historical library in a small town in Texas. I’m following up on the three stagecoach owners who operated a line between Detroit and Chicago, and then all went to Texas following the 1832 Black Hawk War. It turns out that a descendant of one of the three, a woman who did a lot of research on her family history, was the granddaughter of a man who had spent his formative years as an Indian.

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For all the punditry that says you should present an upbeat, positive message in a campaign there is that nagging voice in the back of your mind that reminds you that the reason negative ads predominate in politics is because they work. The reason they work is nothing nefarious. You start with an electorate that’s […]

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According to an article in The Atlantic: Once financial concerns have been covered by their parents, children have more latitude to study less pragmatic things in school. Kim Weeden, a sociologist at Cornell, looked at National Center for Education Statistics data for me after I asked her about this phenomenon, and her analysis revealed that, […]

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Secretly Rational

 

shutterstock_230756299Like many who aren’t born fashionistas, I found myself needing advice on how to not dress like a schlub (or in my case, schlubbette). Trolling the interwebs several years ago, I ran across GoFugYourself.com, a website devoted to demonstrating that making others’ eyes bleed with your attire is not the unique domain of the fat and poor, but that Hollywood’s richest and fittest can do it, too. It gave great lessons in what not to do. But the Fug Girls also have a category for fashion explosions so spectacular that they transcend all ugliness to create their own kind of beauty: “secretly awesome!”. This, along with Bernie Sanders’s recent meditation on deodorant – got me thinking about all those activities in life that are secretly rational. Meaning, they look irrational to outsiders, but from the perspective of the one doing the activity, they are at least as rational as, say a tree is when “deciding” where to put its leaves:

For example, consider the trendy idea of The Framing Effect – the observation that people respond differently to the same situation if it’s simply framed differently. In The Why Axis, a spirited journey into the exciting realm of economic fieldwork, authors Gneezy and List experimentally verified that giving children money before an exam, then taking it away if they score badly, improves exam scores more than promising them money if they score well.* They call this an example of loss-framing, and framing is supposed to be a “cognitive bias” – one of those things humans do that’s not quite rational. But as any child might know – and as researchers discovered when they revisited the marshmallow test – a reward promised at some point in the future really is worth less than the same reward now, because there’s less chance you’ll actually receive it. These children aren’t responding differently to the same situation depending on how it’s framed: they’re responding to genuinely different situations. And quite rationally, too! – especially considering these particular children’s impoverished, chaotic environment, where adult inability to make good on promises to children may be quite common.

As the authors also observe,** when adults reward children repeatedly and consistently, the difference between gain-framing and loss-framing the rewards disappears. They offer no explanation for this, but I do: once adults earn these children’s trust by rewarding them consistently, the children have more reason to believe they’ll receive what they’re promised. Kids are more secretly rational than we suspect.

Pro-Choice Republicans and the Art of War

 

Frontal assaults rarely succeed in war, and they are even less likely to be successful in politics and policy. Defense is easier than offense, and troops rarely have the stomach for the kind of sustained attack (and all the casualties) required to have a chance of victory against an entrenched enemy. Hard-won campaigns can often end up as losses.

Republicans did not campaign on a coherent platform, nor do they have the fortitude or unity for a frontal assault. We should not castigate them for it! In the history of the welfare state, full-frontal assaults on entrenched bureaucracies have, with almost no exceptions, always failed.

People Fear Choice

 

shutterstock_152968568When a person is offered to choose between a pen and a pencil, 50% choose the pen.

But offer the same person the choice between 1 pen and 3 pencils and 80% choose the pen. If offered 1 pencil and 3 pens, 80% choose the pencil.

I think, writ small, this is precisely what lies behind the thinking of single women (who vote very strongly liberal), the Russian or Turkish or Venezuelan masses (who usually vote for bad strongmen), and even much of the American public (who vote liberal no matter how conservative they might be personally). People fear choices.