Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh, And Another Thing...

This goes to vanmojo's first point in the previous article, i.e. that the power to forbid abortion is also the power to coerce abortion.

Closer to home, it's also the power to sterilize. The United States was the first country to adopt a serious policy of compulsory sterilization, and we did it for both punitive and eugenic reasons. It was greatly curtailed, but not eliminated, by a Supreme Court decision, Skinner v. Oklahoma, which specifically struck down compulsory sterilization for punitive purposes.

Believe it or not, the last forced sterilization for eugenic purposes was performed in Oregon in 1981. Eugenics passed out of popular favor in the wake of the Nazi holocaust, but its proponents have never gone away. Here in California, it was really popular until a few years ago. Still, you find the loudest arguments for reinstating eugenics programs coming not from pro-choice advocates, but from abortion opponents. Most abortion opponents are really opponents of reproductive freedom in general, and they're often opponents of women's reproductive freedom in particular.

Here at MojoWire, you'll find that the three of us have pretty consistent views on the relationships between social problems and the civil liberties that must be protected when addressing them.

For example...

• We're big supporters of intellectual freedom, but we think patents and copyrights are necessary for promoting the arts and sciences.

• We're big supporters of freedom of the press, but we go around and around with each other about whether shield laws for reporters are a good idea.

• We're huge supporters of the right to keep and bear arms (and yes, we're shooters), but we think small arms proliferation is a serious problem that needs the attention of government to mitigate.

• We're loud and proud on freedom of religion, but even the atheist on the masthead thinks that Michael Newdow is an annoying git for focusing all the attention on stupid distractions like the pledge of allegiance, to the exclusion of the problem that atheists are frequently excluded from public service because of their religious affiliation.

...and finally, yes...

• We're big supporters of reproductive freedom, but we know there is a role for the state in assisting with the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. We don't believe you can prevent unwanted pregnancies by restricting the availability of safe and legal abortion. And even if you could, we think you shouldn't.

Why? Simple. If the reason you're making it difficult to get an abortion is to force women to accept higher risks of unwanted pregnancy, to force them to accept even more severe consequences of sexual abuse and the physical consequences of abnormal pregnancies, and to force them not to have non-procreative sex, then why aren't you demanding their sterilization for punitive and eugenic purposes? You've already gone most of the way— you're deciding that the State has an overriding interest in what women do with their reproductive systems, and can move to prevent women from exercising control over themselves to advance its own ends at their expense. It's only a matter of time before you start reaching for eugenic compulsory sterilization to fix your favorite pet social problems, and that is unacceptable.

Do you hear me? UNACCEPTABLE!

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