Friday, March 23, 2007

Not Such a Bad Idea?

P.Z. Myers wants a new gender, because some of some recent incidents involving other members of the male gender. With a couple of these incidents, I'm right with him. In one, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report which comes via Feminist Law Professors and Sinister Girl, we learn of a fellow who was prevented from date-raping his date by an alert bartender. In the second, (via Feministing), we learn of a "man" in a pickup truck who ran over a woman, apparently because she failed to respond to his heckling.

An even better example of men behaving very badly comes from StoneCraft, one of Feministing's commenters: a guy named Mohamed Hadfi gouged out his wife's eyes because she refused to have sex with him. I agree with Myers that all these guys are vile scumbags (assuming their guilt is proven). and they should be subjected to the full rigors of the law.

But Myers' third example, which he gets via Bitch Ph.D., involves a proposal by Texas legislator Dan Patrick to pay women who are considering an abortion $500 if they carry the baby to term and put him or her up for adoption. Now, I agree with Bitch that there are some problems with the details of his proposal need work: in particular the amount of the payment seems absurdly low.

But I'm not sure what's wrong with the proposal, in principle. Granted, as a libertarian I would have trouble justifying such government expenditures. But I also have problems with farm subsidies and Social Security. Neither P.Z. Myers nor Bitch Ph.D. strike me as being libertarians who object to spending government money in principle. So if it's OK to subsidize folks who grow corn, and to provide other sorts of social services, what's the problem with paying women to not have abortions?

Lots of people believe that abortion is wrong. What is wrong, in principle, with paying women to not have abortions? In many ways, it seems like the perfect compromise. It's a non-coercive way of reducing the number of abortions. Nor can I fathom why the fact that a male legislator advanced this proposal makes P.Z. ashamed to be a man.

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