Thursday, August 23, 2012

Policy v Politics, Part 2


Yesterday, I wrote a piece talking about the different career paths in the fields of politics and policy and how the they conflict at times.

Okay, most of the time. 

Alright. alright. All the time.

To highlight this this conflict of career fields that are all lumped together, Representative Todd Akin opened his mouth and said something so embarrassing that even he now regrets. To use a sports term, call it an unforced error. Finding a politician who apologizes for anything is practically unheard of these days. Why? Because the political operatives tell them to double-down on their ridiculousness and seek support from their base instead. What he said was so bad, that the party threw him under the bus to protect the national party. That's rare. Unfortunately they don't all disagree with the content of what he was saying, but just how he said it; therefore the story continues. 

I understand what he was trying to get at when he used the term "legitimate rape" - which, by the way, are two words that should never be used in the same sentence, much less adjacent to one another. It was as opposed to "statutory rape", where it really is two consenting individuals where it happens that at least one of them is under legal age. (Example: an 18 year old male with a 16 year old female.) It was still a dumb thing to say and even dumber to sponsor legislation that parsed types of rape in order to make it all illegal. 

I imagine the conversation between the different career groups going down this way: 

Politician: I am pro-life. A pregnancy is God's will, therefore I stand against all abortions. All the time.

Political Operative: Polling data shows that independents do not support that position. They want exceptions in certain instances, like rape, incest, or economic need.

Public Administrator: In practice, legal exceptions to anti-abortion rules do not work because doctors choose to be on the safe side by not offering the services at all. The paperwork adds too much of a burden. They don't want to get caught in a legal battle and they might not be reimbursed through insurance. It's too much of a hassle for doctors.

Policy writer: We can write the legislation and write-in the exceptions. But be aware that the economic and social costs of limiting abortion access will mean that there will be many more single mothers who can not financially support their children. The welfare rolls will increase and people will seek out financial help from family, community, and religious institutions.  Please consider alternatives before going ahead with this policy.

Politician: Sounds great! I can limit abortion access and get people to go to church more at the same time, all the while winning votes from independents!

Political Scientist: Our data shows that there is a resurgence in abortion restrictions throughout the country. Now let's compare that with places like Africa and Asia where family planning is gaining in popularity. This will have demographic implications in the future.


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