Home / General / Healthcare, Abortion, and Republican Bad Faith

Healthcare, Abortion, and Republican Bad Faith

Comments
/
/
/
248 Views

trump kfc

This blog has observed more than once that the arbitrary obstacle course many states have constructed for women who want to obtain a safe abortion takes advantage of the moral discomfort many people who don’t want the procedure banned outright have with abortion. Even in principle, “women should only be able get abortions for reasons I find acceptable” is really bad — the state should not compel a woman to take on the serious health, emotional, time, and financial commitments of childbirth and childbearing against her will, and at least for pre-viabilty abortions “I don’t want to have a child now” is a plenty good enough reason. But even if you like the idea in principle, regulations on abortion don’t advance this goal in any way and most don’t even pretend to. Waiting periods or burdensome clinic regulations don’t prevent women from getting abortions for “bad” reasons; they just make it more difficult or impossible for some classes of women to obtain abortions for any reason. Discussions of “fuzzy” public opinion on abortion are deeply misleading, because vague moral qualms about abortion can’t actually be reflected by concrete statutory provisions. Either women get to make the decision, or they don’t. Permitting women to get abortions only for reasons that are “good enough” for you it not only morally odious in theory but impossible in practice.

As Chait says, the same is true for the appalling deserving/undeserving sick arguments now being made by Republicans to justify stripping health insurance from tens of millions of people. Even in theory, saying that (non-rich) people should be denied care because they made choices that may have contributed to their medical problems is grossly immoral. But, in addition, TrumpCare does not actually in any way provide or deny coverage based on whether individuals are “responsible” for their medical problems:

Let’s assume that we accept the premise that denial of medical care is a morally acceptable tool to attack this problem. (Which, to be clear, I very much reject.) Can the Republican health-care plan be justified as a response to this kind of moral hazard? No, it can’t.

The first problem is that the Republican health-care plan has no mechanism to sort the deserving sick from the undeserving. It simply uses the blunt tools of slashing hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to help people afford insurance, plus waivers for states to encourage insurers to medically underwrite their customers. Reducing subsidies, especially for older and low-income people, is not going to single out those who have made bad choices. It’s singling them out by age and income to make their insurance unaffordable.

Nor will the waivers to let insurers charge higher prices to people with different medical needs have such an effect. Insurers aren’t in the business of rewarding virtue. Yes, in an unregulated market, they would like to sign up healthy people with lower costs by offering them lower rates. But the insurers don’t care which expensive medical conditions are the result of sloth and which are the result of genetics. They want to avoid getting saddled with expensive customers of any kind.

It’s notable that, when Republicans need to come up with an example of a costly “essential benefit” mandated by Obamacare, their favorite one is maternity care. It is certainly true that eliminating coverage for childbirth would reduce costs for people who aren’t women of childbearing age, while raising costs for those who are. But having a baby is not a slothful lifestyle choice. It’s a medical cost that should either be borne by society as a whole (as Democrats prefer) or by the mothers alone (as Republicans do). Again, maternity benefits aren’t an example I am cherry-picking to make the GOP policy look bad. It is Republicans’ own favorite case of a way they plan to make insurance cheaper for non-mothers.

And, of course, to further to compound the bad faith the same faction making these morally and empirically bankrupt arguments have been calling Michelle Obama a fascist for wanting children to have healthier food options and encouraging them to exercise — thankfully that national nightmare is over! — and the president who would sign the AHCA openly boasts about not exercising and subsisting mostly on junk food. We really are dealing with incredibly horrible people here.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Dilan Esper

    Discussions of “fuzzy” public opinion on abortion are deeply misleading, because vague moral qualms about abortion can’t actually be reflected by concrete statutory provisions.

    I think this actually only states half of it.

    The reality is public opinion on abortion is actually not fuzzy at all. It’s pretty clear that the public supports Roe. Why do we know this? Because when they are asked “do you support overturning Roe”, the polling is pretty consistent that a solid majority opposes overturning Roe. It’s been in the 60’s since forever, and lately it’s been pushing up against 70.

    We also know this because in situations where a complete ban is presented to the public, even in conservative states like South Dakota, it turns out a lot of people oppose it who call themselves “pro-life”.

    And we also know this because of the behavior of political professionals. Republican presidential candidates never talk about abortion unless they have to. Democrats talk about it frequently. You can bet that’s not an accident– that’s what the internal polling reflects.

    What the public does when you poll about restrictions on abortion is preen. Because polls are not elections (you’ve heard that refrain from me before), voters are under no obligation to answer the actual question honestly, and they don’t, if the poll gives them an opportunity to make some statement. So you can easily produce “majorities” for banning all sorts of elective abortions, such as for sex selection, because a birth control method didn’t work, because the woman can’t afford the baby, etc.

    But loads of people who answer questions that way do not actually want abortion bans. They just are morally uncomfortable with abortion and want to express that moral discomfort against women who have abortions for the “wrong” reasons.

    • Yes. Many people who were around pre-Roe remember the thousands of women who died each year trying to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and have no desire to go back to those days.

      • sharculese

        It’s not just people who remember the pre-Roe days, it’s also younger voters who grew up in a world where abortion is available-ish and don’t want that to change.

        I have a student who’s a strident Trump supporter. When she found out that I used to work in pro-choice advocacy her response was basically “abortion makes me uncomfortable but it wouldn’t be fair to not make it available to women who need it and I know I’d have one if I needed to.”

        • Helena Handbasket

          Did you follow up with her? Did you find out why she supports Trump, and why she thinks “abortion makes me uncomfortable” somehow equates to “I think rich ladies who can have secret abortions are OK, but we have to take a Moral Stand to make sure that poor women have to bring each and every unwanted pregnancy to term. . . so we can condemn them for having babies they can’t afford!”

          • Brett

            The answer would probably be that (like most people) abortion is not the litmus test on what she votes for. Other concerns dominate.

            That’s what the Anti-Choice Movement has figured out, whether consciously or not, to the detriment of women’s reproductive rights and to their own benefit. A small but extremely motivated group that can throw around its heft in the primaries and protests of one of the parties can wield outsized influence on policy-making, even if it goes against the wishes of a bigger but mostly apathetic majority. It’s how we ended up with a Republican Party and Republican politicians that are extremely hostile to abortion well beyond what their own voters mostly support in polls.

            • The answer would probably be that (like most people) abortion is not the litmus test on what she votes for. Other concerns dominate.

              My experience with people that hold dichotomous views in their head is that they have not thought much about either.

  • howard

    They are not only horrible but also smug about how horrible they are.

  • Thrax

    Somewhat OT, but if Kennedy does retire–and certain wingnut outlets are quite sure he will–Roe will actually be in peril, and while most presidents would be able to play the “gee, I never asked my nominee about abortion; what is this abortion thing you speak of?” game, I doubt Trump can. I expect him to brag “Judge Sykes is totally going to throw out Roe v. Wade when she gets to the Supreme Court, it’ll be beautiful,” etc.

    That might cause Collins and Murkowski, who are at least nominally pro-choice, to bail. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a third GOP senator that would.

    • Dilan Esper

      Indeed, and Trump has made a number of strategic errors on abortion, this being one of them (another was his “punish the woman” statement during the primaries).

      I do think your second paragraph points to one of the keys to the entire issue, which is at this point the Republicans have the tiger by the tail and can’t let go. It would be disastrous, politically, for Republicans if Roe were overturned– they are right now receiving the support of many of those morally squeamish voters who vote Republican precisely because they take the pro-life platform as mostly moral preening and not a serious policy commitment. Unfortunately, they really don’t have a way to prevent the Court from overturning Roe if they replace one of the five, other than to hope that stare decisis saves them (as it did in 1992).

      (Obligatory of course we should all root for Roe to stay in place, even if the status quo benefits Republicans somewhat, because it would be a disaster for women if it were overturned, whatever the political benefits.)

      • Thrax

        Agreed on the political disaster for the GOP and the substantive disaster for everyone else.

        I guess it’s possible that Roberts would see where the political winds are blowing and sign onto an “anything short of an absolute no-exceptions ban is OK” ruling, knowing it will be reported as a “compromise.” Never mind that that’s pretty close to where Casey is anyway.

        • Dilan Esper

          One thing that is VERY notable is neither Roberts nor Alito have called for Roe to be overturned (unlike Thomas, Scalia, Rehnquist, and White did in the past). They’ve voted for the narrowest possible interpretation of Casey, and that would be terrible, but we’re all assuming (me too!) that it’s 100 percent certain that if they get the fifth vote, there goes Roe completely, when it’s possible they will decide, mostly for political reasons (under cover of stare decisis), to just hollow Roe out further while not overturning it.

          • Thrax

            Neither of them has had occasion to “call for” Roe to be overturned, so I’m not sure what that means. As Alito’s next ruling that disappoints the right will be his first, you can rest assured that he’ll be vote #3 (after Thomas and Sykes, or whoever the Kennedy replacement is), and Gorsuch’s record on the 10th Cir. has been pretty similar, so I wouldn’t bet against his being #4. Roberts, by all accounts, is more concerned about appearances, hence the potential compromise that will give the right 99% of what it wants while generating slightly less bad headlines.

    • Denverite

      Not just outlets. I have it from a secondhand source that at least one potential COA nominee on Trump’s SCOTUS shortlist is considering turning the COA down so as to campaign for Kennedy’s seat in the fall.

      • Scott Lemieux

        My (few) connected Beltway legal people contacts also think Kennedy will resign soon, very possibly at the end of this term.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      It’s gotten rather extreme when an “undue burden” on abortion has not quite reached the level of “suffocate a RW USSC justice in a Texas hotel room”.

      But here we are.

      I, for one, applaud those who have overcome that burden, and hope they will continue.

    • efgoldman

      That might cause Collins and Murkowski, who are at least nominally pro-choice, to bail.

      Suzy Q will be “concerned”, maybe even “very concerned” or even “extremely concerned”; then she’ll go ahead and vote however Yertle McTurtle tells her to.

  • Murc

    takes advantage of the moral discomfort many people who don’t want the procedure banned outright have with abortion.

    That line of attack is really good at finding traction, in my experience. I know (as in personally, not just “have encountered”) a couple women with otherwise impeccable pro-choice credentials, who’ve done clinic escorts and suchly, who would absolutely and 100% ban sex-selection abortion if they could figure out a way to do it that was both effective and wouldn’t open the door to other, more pernicious bans.

    They both use language that comes shockingly close to anti-choice rhetoric, too. Although I try not to judge in some cases; one of them is Chinese-American and I don’t feel comfortable or justified in contradicting her very strong feelings regarding the practical outcomes of how girl children are valued (or not) in her culture.

    The first problem is that the Republican health-care plan has no mechanism to sort the deserving sick from the undeserving.

    Many Republican policies become much clearer when you realize that they operate on a principle of “better that ten innocent persons suffer, than that one guilty party escape.”

    It’s sort of ultra-paternalistic, the logical extension of the kind of parent who grounds all three of their children for a month because they can’t figure out which specific one knocked the glass off the table.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      Apropos of this, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

      Liberals, as Judith Shklar discerned, believe that the worst thing a society does is to be cruel. Conservatives believe the worst thing is to unleash disorder.

      • Nobdy

        Trump is an agent of chaos.

        Trying to tie Republicans to some defensible principle of governance like “law and order” does not work.

      • CP

        For certain values of “disorder.” When you look at the Vegas casino that our economy’s been turned into, the NRA’s utopia of a land where people go everywhere armed and resolve their differences by Standing Their Ground, or the utter chaos that has been the federal government ever since they went teabagger, it turns out that there’s lots of places where fomenting disorder is something they actually like.

      • catbirdman

        I think the Republican outlook is closer to (a) fear that someone outside their in-group is going to get away with something, mixed with (b) fear that someone’s going to catch them doing something. They want society to come down hard on “others” who break some code, because personal responsibility, preservation of the social order, etc., yet generally have endless capacity to rationalize why they and their in-group should have something more like carte blanche — because they are superior, because they are bold, because they created jobs, because their motives were pure, because freedom, etc.

        Oh — yeah, basically what Nobdy says right below this :)

    • Nobdy

      Your take is far too charitable to Republicans. They do not care about guilt or innocence, only in group and outgroup.

      Do they punish CEOs who engage in fraud or polluters who kill people? Obviously not. They don’t care if Trump lies or grifts or any of it. They WOULD happily come down hard on a ‘lesser’ if they did these things (see, e.g. the drug war, even though we know plenty of rich people do drugs) but the elect can do as they please.

      That is how you get Republicans constantly haranguing the poor for not getting married to the mothers of their children and raising them but Donald Trump is allowed to ignore Barron and Tiffany and cheat on their mothers and they shrug. Note that Trump had a 10 year old son who doesn’t live with him but on weekends Trump golfs instead of seeing the boy. Can you imagine a decent father doing that?

      Republicans just believe in a twisted form of calvinism. The rich and powerful are meritorious and the poor deserve their suffering. Period.

      • farin

        Sending Newt Gingrich’s mistress-turned-third-wife to the Vatican is the logical endpoint of all Republican sexual-morality thinking.

        • Pete

          That was just perfect!

        • TopsyJane

          Sending Newt Gingrich’s mistress-turned-third-wife to the Vatican is the logical endpoint of all Republican sexual-morality thinking.

          I’d like to suggest that we retire the term “mistress,” which has no equivalent for men, and do so in all cases, without keeping it in reserve to snark at women we dislike.

          • farin

            It’s so admirably concise, though. Perhaps, since ‘master’ has already mostly transcended gender, we could treat ‘mistress’ similarly and make it mean simply ‘adulterous lover.’
            (This is not a particularly serious solution and your point is an excellent one.)

      • David Hunt

        Republicans just believe in a twisted form of calvinism. The rich and powerful are meritorious and the poor deserve their suffering. Period.

        From my layman’s view, that’s the normal and ordinary form of Calvinsim which just happens to twisted as well. I’ll admit I’m poorly educated on that sect, but every time I’ve started looking into it, I see those views put forward and give up in disgust.

        • Origami Isopod

          The “normal” view of Calvinism is that even before you’re born, the deity has decided whether you’ll go to heaven or hell. Not much better IMO.

    • farin

      “Better that ten innocent persons suffer, than that they not suffer.”

    • Dilan Esper

      That line of attack is really good at finding traction, in my experience. I know (as in personally, not just “have encountered”) a couple women with otherwise impeccable pro-choice credentials, who’ve done clinic escorts and suchly, who would absolutely and 100% ban sex-selection abortion if they could figure out a way to do it that was both effective and wouldn’t open the door to other, more pernicious bans.

      Don’t take this as a defense of that position, at least in the US, but I do want to say I at least understand this intellectually. There’s a real problem, especially in other countries, with sex selective abortions decreasing the female population. This is not a feminist result, even though the principle of female control of their reproductive tracts is a feminist tenet.

      Thankfully we don’t have that issue in this country, but I would at least say that if we had say a birth rate of 60 percent boys and 40 percent girls, this would be a real issue and I certainly wouldn’t say that we should all be blithely libertarian about it.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Sex-selective abortion, in America at least, is like voter fraud IMO: a non-existent problem used to rationalize draconian solutions.

        • More fodder for the argument that these are issues created by (bad) public policy, not the other way around.

          • Dilan Esper

            I think the fact we don’t have this problem here is a tribute to the success of American feminism. The countries that have the problem are much more patriarchal that we are.

            And because we don’t have this problem, we don’t need to legislate against it.

            I’m really saying that of all the things people morally preen about, I do get while they morally preen about this one (just like you post below, you get why the disability rights people morally preen about that one). And I also say that if I were, let’s say, an Indian politician, this issue would make me think long and hard.

            • I’m not inclined to describe the disability activists’ attitude as moral preening. They’re not wrong that we live in a society that views disabled people as inherently worthless, and teaches us (and them) to think that they might be better off dead. If you’re right that the reason we don’t have many sex-selective abortions is due to the success of feminism (and am I by no means convinced that the answer is as simple as that), then the fact that our society is strongly ableist should indicate that people who object to abortions because of fetal abnormality have something to worry about.

              • Murc

                They’re not wrong that we live in a society that views disabled people as inherently worthless, and teaches us (and them) to think that they might be better off dead.

                Would it be wrong to take this moment for me to hate on “Me before You” again?

                Because fuck that book and/or movie.

    • I’ve seen this phenomenon from disability activists and/or disabled people, when the topic of aborting fetuses with congenital conditions comes up. Most of them, to be fair, are still pro-choice, but they’re very vehement that they do not consider this a legitimate choice.

      The answer, of course, is that even if you believe that sex-selective or ability-selective abortions are wrong, the key to reducing them, as with all kinds of abortions, is not prohibition. Abortions of female fetuses (and even murders of live female infants) became a phenomenon in China because of public policy. More broadly, we all still live in societies that value women less than men, and pathologize them from an early age. Many parents feel they couldn’t cope with a disabled child because there are so few resources at their disposal, and because society teaches us to see the disabled as being less valuable. The solution is to provide better services and create a more equitable society, and then fewer people will want to have these (or any) abortions.

    • LeeEsq

      The only way a government should get involved with increasing and decreasing its population is through control of immigration and emigration and even that is sketchy. Getting involved in how many or how few children people have is going into dangerous territory. This is for private individuals to decide. Thats the only safe way to handle this issue.

  • lizzie

    This analysis is of course correct. The only problem is this: at least in my experience, people who want to distinguish between the “deserving” and “undeserving” w/r/t abortion/health care/welfare benefits/what-have-you, generally have no problem at all with a blunt tool that doesn’t actually do anything but arbitrarily restrict certain classes of people from having access to those things, or that is worse/more expensive than the “problem” it is intended to correct (e.g., drug testing welfare recipients; imposing onerous ID requirements to vote).

    Trying to point out that the distinction they want to make is impossible to administer in practice almost never gets you anywhere. They lack the ability to imagine that they or anyone they care about could ever be put in the “undeserving” category and they don’t give a crap about anyone else. The fact that your status as a “deserving” person is even in question is basically prima facie evidence that you suck as a human being, and forcing you to jump through a humiliating series of counterproductive hoops to prove otherwise is a positive benefit. And if anything like that happens to them or anyone they like, then it’s just proof that government is stupid.

    • They lack the ability to imagine that they or anyone they care about could ever be put in the “undeserving” category

      I would say that they lack the willingness to class themselves or anyone they care about in that category, even if objectively they should. We see this all the time – the “my abortion is different” phenomenon.

  • tsam

    I always get a laugh from that picture because Trump’s skin is almost the same shade as the chicken’s skin. LOSER SAD

    • Dennis Orphen

      The only thing wrong with the picture is that there isn’t a kiddie pool filled with KFC gravy.

      • ThresherK

        Now that Trump’s appointed an EPA head, that quantity of KFC gravy no longer has to be registered with state and local governments as a waste site.

      • tsam

        Mmmmmmm gravy…

        Shit! Did I just say that out loud?

  • Nobdy

    Republicans have one move. Stir up resentment. That is it at this point. You don’t have a job because the Mexicans took it. You can’t have health care because the fatties (defined as someone fatter than you are since many Republicans are overweight) are too lazy and expensive. Liberals are the reason you are facing social problems. If not for their restrictive laws you would all have jobs.

    They have devolved to having no other arguments and certainly no positive vision.

    Meanwhile adulteress (by Catholic definition) becomes the ambassador to the Vatican despite that adultery and her subsequent marriage to a man who makes a mockery of the institution being her SOLE qualification.

    • Pat

      I bet that Francis treats her like anyone else. Of course, the rest of the Vatican hierarchy will probably treat her like trash, and nothing will be accomplished.

      Francis might even change her mind on a few aspects of her life, much like he did for John Bohner.

      • Nobdy

        The stated goal of most ambassadorships is not to aid in the spiritual growth of the ambassador.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Frankie’s totes cooler that Ratso on that. (not meaning to insult Benedict XVI there, I’m using it as in Rizzo, which I always mean as I compliment. I’m commenting here!!! {slams hood keyboard).

    • rewenzo

      I mean, is getting Newt Gingrich to convert to Catholicism even a win for Catholicism? Some assholes they can do without.

    • Gone2Ground

      I thought she was the money side of the operation. Am I wrong about that?

      Because I’m quite sure that money talks in the world of the RCC and a ton of money shoveled at HMC goes very far indeed. Although I would treasure the moment when Francis tells her what for, because I feel like it’s coming.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Republicans used to reject demands for health insurance to cover prenatal care and childbirth with the line “pregnancy is not a disease.” Apparently this wasn’t smugly dismissive enough for them; now the line seems to be, “I can’t give birth and who gives a shit about you.”

    • Dennis Orphen

      Not big on name-calling but I gave birth to a republican this morning as soon as I got out of bed. In fact, it was why I got out of bed, I think.

  • dmsilev

    OT: Time for another But Her Emails! post:

    Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

    President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

    The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

    The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Yo dawg, I heard you like leaks, so I thought I’d leak your leak.

  • LeeEsq

    On another blog, there is a poster that believes that universal healthcare can’t be implemented in the Untied States because many Americans still have the Protestant viewpoint that people get what they deserve.

  • DrDick

    people should be denied care because they made choices that may have contributed to their medical problems

    It also ignore the reality that the largest factor determining health outcomes is your socioeconomic status. The greater access you have to money, power, and resources that people have the better your health outcomes, regardless of your behavior.

    • farin

      But socio-economic status is entirely the result of personal, un-coerced choices! That’s Econoethics 101.

  • Joe_JP

    Who would absolutely and 100% ban sex-selection abortion if they could figure out a way to do it that was both effective and wouldn’t open the door to other, more pernicious bans

    This has been covered well already but bottom line, basic rights will result in things that many people will find very offensive (with cause). The right to marry includes not marrying people for reasons that are offensive. Ditto the right to choose friends or who to invite to your home. And, that doesn’t including direct freedom over one’s body. You have the right to make bad choices.

    I’m not even going to assume that there are never cases where sex specific abortions might be justified aside from certain conditions associated with one sex over the other (e.g., someone wants three kids & has two girls; want a boy, so aborts by sex of the embryo … is this unconscionable? I won’t assume it is).

    And, I concur that to the degree you want to avoid sex specific abortions [and it doesn’t appear to be a problem in the U.S.] or aborting those with certain conditions (this is somewhat different; no matter how much you provide social benefits etc., some will simply feel certain conditions might be immoral to bring into this world, aside from those already born worthy of all the help and care they can get), taking away the right to choose is not the way to address it.

    ETA: I think somewhat relatedly that those who fear euthanasia will result in slippery slopes that harm at risk populations can have something to their argument without denying a “right to die” being the solution.

It is main inner container footer text