Parental Consent? More Like Parental Insistence.

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A New York Times study of six states with laws requiring parental notification or consent for minors seeking abortions finds such laws have little effect on pregnancy or abortion rates. It turns out, not surprisingly, that parents are often the ones pushing for abortions. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention, but I thought the main argument for parental notification/consent was that abortion should not be treated differently from other surgical procedures. I don't recall hearing advocates (or opponents) of these laws predict they would have a big impact on abortion rates. But if they did, it looks like they were wrong.

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  1. Interesting, I wonder what affect spousal/partner/best-guess-as-to-who-the-daddy-is notification laws would have…

  2. The dirty secret of abortion is that it is parents and on the hook fathers who push for them more than the women themselves, which makes sense when you consider that they are the ones who will bear a lot of the financial burden of the child but will not have to bear any of the psychological guilt and trama of actually having an abortion.

  3. Why not allow a father to veto the abortion, provided that when the baby is born he has sole custody and is legally required to pay for everything?

  4. Why not allow a father to veto the abortion, provided that when the baby is born he has sole custody and is legally required to pay for everything?

    By “pay for everything,” would that include compensation for any permanent health problems the woman may suffer? How much is it worth if a woman becomes a diabetic or gets permanent hemorrhoids as a result of her pregnancy?

  5. When the dad is running the health risks, he can have a veto.

  6. Anonnymouse,

    Since the dad is also not running the pschological and physical risks of having the abortion, he then shouldn’t be able to pressure the woman into going that way either right?

  7. John,

    A good guy would not put any undo pressure on the woman but rather consider her needs and concerns as much as his own.

    As for the not-so-good guys? Shit happens, John. Since YOU brought this up, why don’t YOU go first and tell us what YOU would do about them?

  8. Well, if the child is born it does technically belong to the dad as much as to the mom, so why shouldn’t he have some say in it? As for being responsible for any health risks, aren’t there health risks associated with abortion anyway?

  9. Fyodor,

    How about YOU facing reality and admitting that the reality of abortion in this country is a lot more to do with deadbeat fathers and parents who don’t want to raise thier knocked up daughter’s children than anyone wants to admit. We paint abortion as only a case of a woman wanting the abortion and everyone else trying to stop her and ignore the common case of a woman not wanting an abortion and everyone else telling her to get one. Of course that fact doesn’t necessarily mean that abortion ought to be illegal, but I don’t see how you can have a intelligent discussion about a subject without understanding how it is really occuring.

  10. Mike,

    Once it’s born it may belong equally to the man (though that’s not always the case, is it? But even if it is…). But while it’s still a part of her, it’s a part of her. We may disagree on whether the embryo or fetus has rights of its own separate from the mother, but you’re taking an extra leap of logic to say the father necessarily has rights over the embryo or fetus.

    As for the health risks, I’m no doctor, but it’s besides the point since I generally believe that people can make the best decisions for themselves without others deciding for them.

  11. I’m going to just go ahead and jump this thread to its logical conclusion:

    Anti-Choicer: You people are condoning murder! You’re all going to hell! Won’t you think of the (unborn) CHILDREN?!? Blah Blah, genocide, blah blah, eugenics, blah HITLER!

    Pro-Deather: How can you want women to be barefoot and pregnant? Don’t you think women deserve an equal place in society? What would YOU do about the baby? How can you HATE WOMEN?!?! Blah blah, nazi, blah blah HITLER!

  12. Another problem with letting dads veto abortions so long as they agree to pay for it is that this basically says a woman can be forced to serve as an incubator if her former sex partner demands it and has the money to back it up.

  13. Perhaps, but is it fair that a woman can decide to go on with a pregnancy that the father does not want and then force him to pay for it? At least this way, there would be some equality among the sexes.

  14. Perhaps, but is it fair that a woman can decide to go on with a pregnancy that the father does not want and then force him to pay for it?

    No, it’s not fair, but how do you propose complete fairness when biology dictates that it takes two to make a baby, but one does the lion’s share of the work? The only way to make this one-hundred-percent fair would be to install some horrible Harrison Bergeron-style techniques: “Okay, the father can force the mother to have the baby, but meanwhile the father will be forced to undergo various medical procedures to make his body suffer the same way hers does. Or, if the woman has an abortion, then the father has to get a kick in the testicles calibrated to make him suffer the exact same amount of discomfort that the woman does. If the woman becomes a diabetic then the man will have to have a corn-syrup IV until he’s a diabetic too. If men can become fathers without even knowing about it then women should also be able to become mothers without knowing about it, perhaps via drugging the water supply. . . .”

    All ludicrous.

  15. Perhaps, but is it fair that a woman can decide to go on with a pregnancy that the father does not want and then force him to pay for it?

    I can see your point about why this seems unfair. But the fact of the matter is that in light of both the intrinsic differences in men’s and women’s reproductive roles AND the expectations that society places on those who reproduce, NO SOLUTION will end up being perfectly fair. The best solution probably is the one that makes the most realistic ascertainment of rights. And it just seems like it’s not the father’s until it is born and becomes his responsibility.

  16. Another problem with letting dads veto abortions so long as they agree to pay for it is that this basically says a woman can be forced to serve as an incubator if her former sex partner demands it and has the money to back it up.
    ————————————————-
    People are forced to do things all the time they dont want to do. Women don’t have a right to an abortion unless the state says they do.

  17. People are forced to do things all the time they dont want to do. Women don’t have a right to an abortion unless the state says they do.

    True enough that people are forced to do things they don’t want to, but with the exception of military guys in a warzone, those forced bahaviors don’t come with inherent medical risks. Paying taxes doesn’t increase your chances of becoming a diabetic. Speed limits on the roads don’t force your muscle and bone structures to handle a huge increase in your body weight. Registering your car won’t leave physical scars that you’ll keep for the rest of your life. And so forth.

  18. How about YOU facing reality and admitting that the reality of abortion in this country is a lot more to do with deadbeat fathers and parents who don’t want to raise thier knocked up daughter’s children than anyone wants to admit.

    Who won’t admit it? Especially since your baseline for comparison is what “anyone” wants to admit? How much is what anyone wants to admit? I don’t doubt for a moment that what you describe is a genuine phenomenon, and I have no problem discussing it. And I didn’t take issue with your doing so. But in your subsequent post, you raised one of those problems in life that simply have no nice and neat solution. You seem to be implying there’s something we can and should do about it. If not, why don’t YOU admit that rather than act like we’re all ignoring the problem by not advocating some solution ourselves!

    Sigh, I think I know what you’re getting at, and to a degree you likely have a point. The abortion debate is so polarized that some of those who want it legal refuse to see any problems associated with it. Of course, by the same token, some who want it illegal will exaggerate any problems with it as far as they can possibly go with it. But it doesn’t help the debate to assume that everyone you meet is going to fall into one of these irrational extremes. Of course there’s problems associated with abortion. What in life is NOT associated with any problems? That’s why the issue here (as with everything) should be determining/recognnizing rights and then allowing those with the applicable rights to decide unhindered. Of course, with abortion, the matter of determining rights is a little more messy than usual, to say the least. But that’s where the debate should be. I don’t doubt that good and bad things will happen whereever we set the rights. The more realistically we determine the rights, the better the results will likely be. Wringing our hands over the imperfections of any means of deciding this debate don’t effect what should be the true nature of the debate. Which probably boils down to what Timothy said! 🙂

  19. People are forced to do things all the time they dont want to do. Women don’t have a right to an abortion unless the state says they do.

    Hmm…so that which is not permitted is forbidden, eh?

    Interesting, very interesting.

  20. I’ve always thought that which wasn’t forbidden was permitted, must be the pesky individual in me.

  21. Jennifer,

    What fraction of pregnancies lead to permanent disability in the woman?

    The life of hemmorhoids and diabetes is simply counter to the experience of most of us, so you’ll need to back that up with some statistics.

    It seems somewhat counterintuitive that a person who is hyperconcerned about such things would have unprotected, non-marital sex.

    Don’t even try the “condom broke” argument. That can’t be both an unexpected risk, and the cause of a large number of pregnancies.

  22. If a woman is so concerned about diabetes and such, why not just get sterilized?

  23. People are forced to do things all the time they dont want to do.

    What’s the point? Just because certain things happen all the time does not mean that those things are okay to happen, does it? Like war happens all the time, theft happens all the time, etc. So what’s your point?

    Also, there’s force and there’s force. Being forced by circumstances is very different than being forced by other humans making a conscious decision to force you to do something against your will. Very, very different.

  24. What fraction of pregnancies lead to permanent disability in the woman?

    I don’t know the percentage, though the older the woman gets, the greater the chance of it happening. But what difference does that make? I’m not saying this happens every time a woman gets pregnant, but that doesn’t mean it happens so rarely that it’s not worth considering at all.

    If we’re discussing laws about parental rights, the fact that only a relatively small percentage of children are abused by their parents doesn’t change the fact that such kids need to be taken into consideration when parental rights are spelled out.

    It seems somewhat counterintuitive that a person who is hyperconcerned about such things would have unprotected, non-marital sex.

    You can say the exact same thing about men who don’t want to make child-support payments. So shall we discuss this, or simply throw back and forth: “It’s the woman’s fault!” “No, it’s the man’s fault!” “Well, the slut should have kept her legs together!” “No, the bastard should have kept his dick in his pants!”

  25. I’ve always thought that which wasn’t forbidden was permitted, must be the pesky individual in me.

    That’s why I found it so very interesting, Timothy.

    But others seem to have a strong authoritarian streak.

  26. If a woman is so concerned about diabetes and such, why not just get sterilized?

    If a man is so concerned about child support and such, why not just get sterilized?

  27. bubba,

    What’s your point? Isn’t the individual best suited to determine the risks and benefits of whatever path he or she chooses? You may very well be correct that the medical risks of pregnancy fall into the category that most of us would call “very low.” But what difference does that make unless you assert a right to decide someone else’s choices based on your assessment of the risks?

  28. What part of “Life isn’t fair” is difficult to understand.

  29. Registering your car won’t leave physical scars that you’ll keep for the rest of your life

    The mental scars of dealing with the DMV can be pretty ugly though.

  30. I propose when an abortion happens, we sterilize both the alleged father and the mother.

  31. Easy solution: just declare that dependent children aren’t fully human, then bump ’em off as needed to achieve complete parental safety and convenience.

    Perhaps, but is it fair that a woman can decide to go on with a pregnancy that the father does not want and then force him to pay for it?

    That’s the feminist definition of “fair.”

  32. Perhaps, but is it fair that a woman can decide to go on with a pregnancy that the father does not want and then force him to pay for it?

    No, but if it’s either him or the taxpayers, I’ll scream “Fair!” too.

  33. The DMV gave me a brain cloud.

  34. F. Le,

    Well, gotta draw the line somewhere, eh? One extreme I suppose would be at their 18th birthday. At the other extreme we have the position of the Catholic Church that nothing at all should get in the way of conception. Hopefully we can find a compromise that won’t cause everyone to kill each other. At least not until the Xists come!!

  35. In all seriousness, however, I think the best solution is to make parental rights sellable, and to make birth control pills over the counter.

  36. Timothy, baby, you got me hearing Richie Havens singing, “Freedom, freedom, FREEDOM, FREEDOM, freedom…”

  37. Timothy;

    There’s a variety of birth control sold over the counter. You can make the pills over-the-counter too, but just like the other types of contraception, you can’t force people to use it.

  38. I don’t recall hearing advocates (or opponents) of these laws predict they would have a big impact on abortion rates. But if they did, it looks like they were wrong.

    I think this is primarily a principled argument. …and I think it’s a big deal to pro-Life people.

    …and I can’t think of a better way for libertarians to make headway with some of our seemingly natural enemies–fundamentalist Christians and Soccer Moms–then to make ourselves fundamental proponents of parental discretion, whether it be in regards to choice in education or a parent’s knowledge, at the very least, that his or her child will have an abortion. Try as I might, I haven’t come up with many ideas likely to make inroads with these two groups. …but I’m open to suggestions.

    …and if libertarian public policy is all about avoiding state coercion, I don’t see where parental notification conflicts with libertarian ideas about public policy.

  39. I don’t recall hearing advocates (or opponents) of these laws predict they would have a big impact on abortion rates. But if they did, it looks like they were wrong.

    Come on Jacob… being a little disingenuous here, aren’t we?

  40. It seems somewhat counterintuitive that a person who is hyperconcerned about such things would have unprotected, non-marital sex.

    What about marrital sex? Married women get abortions too.

    I can’t think of a better way for libertarians to make headway with some of our seemingly natural enemies–fundamentalist Christians and Soccer Moms–then to make ourselves fundamental proponents of parental discretion

    What about the situations where the parent is part of the problem? I don’t think that a 14-year-old who got raped by her step-father should be forced to notify him before she can get an abortion. I realize that that’s not every situation, but it’s more than rare, and although I feel for the parents who aren’t part of the problem, I can’t find it in myself to force a law that’ll damage the lives of people who are victims of a terrible situation.

  41. Strange Attractor: Too true, wouldn’t hurt is all.

  42. There’s a variety of birth control sold over the counter. You can make the pills over-the-counter too, but just like the other types of contraception, you can’t force people to use it.

    Odd thing, though, the easier it is to get some things the more likely people will use them.

    This, perhaps, is the motivation of those who do not want these things easy to get.

  43. Just as a comment on the “preganancy causes terrible hardship to women’s bodies” meme: There have been a number of studies which linked breast feeding to a large reduction in breast cancer risk, and also at least one study which found that a succesful preganancy lowered the likelihood of ovarian cancer. I’m not arguing with the detriments to women’s bodies, but at least it’s not all bad for you pregnant ladies.

    I will try to find links to the articles

  44. …and if libertarian public policy is all about avoiding state coercion, I don’t see where parental notification conflicts with libertarian ideas about public policy.

    I don’t see any correlation between the first part of your conditional and the second. Sure, there’s no conflict between libertarian principles and parental notification laws, but only because libertarian principles don’t apply to minors. Parental notification laws increase coercion, not decrease it! You could argue that it’s justified coercion, but you can’t argue that parental notification laws avoid state coercion! Unless you think that allowing minors to decide for themselves is a form of state coercion? Is that what you’re assuming? I’m sure there are instances in which a state supported clinic advocates for abortion, but you still don’t decrease coercion by increasing it! Minors may not have full adult rights, but they’re still people, and forcing them to do something they would not otherwise do under threat of the law is still state coercion.

  45. Isaac;

    Odd thing, though, the easier it is to get some things the more likely people will use them

    Birth control IS easy to get. There’s a half-aisle full of the stuff in any drugstore. And it’s not like people will go bankrupt buying it.

  46. I’ve also heard that women with children had lower rates of breast cancer than those without any children. I don’t know what Ira’s point is, but I’d say it only reinforces what I’ve said repeatedly here already, that it’s best to allow any individual to decide between various health benefits and risks him or herself.

  47. I admit I’m not sure of my point either (besdies the one on my head) except being slightly disturbed by reading all the terrible consequences of pregnancy and wanting to bring up some good outcomes.

    I think anyone should be able to do with their body what they wish.

    http://www.ivillage.co.uk/pregnancyandbaby/pregnancy/babyfeed/articles/0,,20_180863,00.html ? breastfeeding/breast cancer

    http://www.shands.org/health/information/article/000910.htm – pregnancy/endometrial cancer

  48. Birth control IS easy to get. There’s a half-aisle full of the stuff in any drugstore. And it’s not like people will go bankrupt buying it.

    Some guys here seem ready to assume that any pregnaqncy is entirely the woman’s fault, and the poor victimized daddy had nothing to do with it; I’d just like to point out that easily available over-the-counter birth control mainly consists of condoms, which is the male option for birth control; women’s birth-control options generally require a doctor visit, a prescription, and then either a bodily implant, some varieties of chemicals, or both.

  49. I once had an ex-girlfriend who turned out to be pregnant with a child of mine. I had no say on whether the child was born or not and I ultimately ended up with sole custody of the child.
    I can honestly say that, during the whole ordeal, I never whined or even entertained the thought that what was happening was “unfair”. To me, it was a matter of responsibility. It was an unfortunate situation, but it was one that I had got myself into.
    so why shouldn’t he have some say in it?
    Because the time to think about consequences is before you do the deed, not after.
    Welcome to manhood, son 🙂

  50. Sure, there’s no conflict between libertarian principles and parental notification laws, but only because libertarian principles don’t apply to minors.

    Minors are funny that way. …They typically have their own criminal sytem, they’re limited in the contracts they can enter into–it’s almost like they’re the responsibility of their parents.

    Parental notification laws increase coercion, not decrease it!

    As far as the state protecting people who do things to children without a parent’s knowledge, is there anything other than abortion in that category?

    You could argue that it’s justified coercion, but you can’t argue that parental notification laws avoid state coercion!

    Minors may not have full adult rights, but they’re still people, and forcing them to do something they would not otherwise do under threat of the law is still state coercion.

    If we were talking about consent here, and I’m not willing to go that far yet, you might have something. …but we’re not talking about the state saying that a child’s decision overrules the parents. We’re saying they shouldn’t even know about it.

  51. We’re saying they shouldn’t even know about it.

    Who’s “we”? The absence of parental notification laws does not “say” that parents should not know about a child’s abortion. Rather, it is neutral on the subject.

    As far as your other objections to my post, I would say they all fall under my disclaimer: “You could argue that it’s justified coercion…” All I intended to say was that your connection of parental notification to avoiding state coercion made no sense. To be more clear, libertarianism, per se, is neutral on the issue. Give other reasons for parental notification, but please don’t claim libertarianism supports it, or that it “avoid[s] state coercion.”

  52. I once had an ex-girlfriend who turned out to be pregnant with a child of mine. I had no say on whether the child was born or not and I ultimately ended up with sole custody of the child.

    I can honestly say that, during the whole ordeal, I never whined or even entertained the thought that what was happening was “unfair”. To me, it was a matter of responsibility. It was an unfortunate situation, but it was one that I had got myself into.

    mk — You deserve some kudos, amigo. Maybe you were just living up to your responsiblity, as you say, but that’s more than a lot of people do.

  53. Jennifer,

    Actually, there’s over-the-counter prophylactics for use by women. Sponges and films, I think they’re called. The woman inserts it 15 minutes ahead of time and then it lasts for a couple of hours. Not perfect protection, but good enough to be sold for the use.

  54. So, fyodor, are you sponge worthy?

  55. That’s right, fyodor, I forgot those came back on the market.

  56. That’s right, fyodor, I forgot those came back on the market.

    Did they? I know there are gels, but I haven’t actually seen sponges.

  57. Both sexes can buy condoms. Either partner can make the wearing of one a prerequisite to sex. Condom use probably inconveniences the man a little more than woman. So although one could argue that it’s “the male option” for birth control, that’s based solely on placement, not on preference. Assuming no worries about diseases, I’d guess most guys would prefer the woman to be on the pill.

  58. Well Elaine, I believe only you can tell me that!!

    Not being a Seinfeld fan, I’d forgotten about that. But not living under a rock, I’ve sure heard about it!!

  59. that’s more than a lot of people do

    When people fail to take responsibilities for their actions they invite state coercion. It’s a pretty simple formula.
    Also, a baby grows inside of a woman’s body.That means what they say goes until such time as the baby is no longer inside of them. What is it that they say about possession being 9/10ths of the law? I can’t help but think that those men who believe that a man can have a say over what a woman does with her womb are the same men who think that it is okay to have sex with their wives whether they agree to it or not. The two viewpoints seem consistent to me.

  60. Assuming no worries about diseases, I’d guess most guys would prefer the woman to be on the pill.

    Of course most guys would prefer not to have to do anything, but the pill can have all sorts of side effects, and at the very least is more expensive than condoms, once doctor visits and such are taken into account.

  61. I’d guess most guys would prefer the woman to be on the pill.

    But if you plan on actually hanging out with her on a regular basis, I’d prefer an IUD more. I’ve become more and more familiar with oodles of anecdotal evidence that the pill has abject effects on women’s moods. I don’t know what scientific studies have to say, but I would suggest that any couple considering the pill be open and sensitive to that possibility.

    linguist,

    As recently as this past fall, sponges and films were indeed available in Colorado Walgreens’s.

  62. “Sure, I can give you guys some tips about women. First, they love it when you name their vaginas — preferably as early in the relationship as possible. Personally, I prefer medieval names, like ‘Guinevere,’ or ‘Esmeralda.’

    “Second — never use a condom. It makes women feel dirty. It’s like you’re saying, ‘For you, I need a condom.”

    “That makes sense…”

    — A nice bit of dialogue from the improv sitcom Campus Ladies, which I am learning to enjoy quite a bit, even though I discovered it by channel-surfing and it airs on …. Oxygen.

  63. I can’t help but think that those men who believe that a man can have a say over what a woman does with her womb are the same men who think that it is okay to have sex with their wives whether they agree to it or not. The two viewpoints seem consistent to me.

    I’ve thought the same thing but never said so for fear of being accused of misandry. Thanks, Mk.

  64. Jennifer,

    My comment addresses both what you said in this thread and your comment in a different thread where you said “[condoms] are the birth control option that put men in charge of contraception”.

    It’s true that birth control options are indeed asymmetrical, but condoms are devices that go between people. There is a person on either side of the condom… they’re pretty equal in that respect.

  65. It’s true that birth control options are indeed asymmetrical, but condoms are devices that go between people. There is a person on either side of the condom… they’re pretty equal in that respect.

    What in God’s name are you talking about? “Going between people” doesn’t change the fact that a man has to choose whether or not he wears a condom, which means he’s the one in control of wearing one or not.

  66. I can’t help but think that those men who believe that a man can have a say over what a woman does with her womb are the same men who think that it is okay to have sex with their wives whether they agree to it or not. The two viewpoints seem consistent to me.

    That’s true, as long as only two people and their respective genitalia are involved.

    Moving right along:

    I’m going to just go ahead and jump this thread to its logical conclusion:

    Anti-Choicer: You people are condoning murder! You’re all going to hell! Won’t you think of the (unborn) CHILDREN?!? Blah Blah, genocide, blah blah, eugenics, blah HITLER!

    Pro-Deather: How can you want women to be barefoot and pregnant? Don’t you think women deserve an equal place in society? What would YOU do about the baby? How can you HATE WOMEN?!?! Blah blah, nazi, blah blah HITLER!

    Thanks, Timothy, for saving us a great deal of time.

  67. I’ve always thought the best solution was to allow the man to waive all rights and responsibilities to the child. If the woman, knowing the child will have no father or financial support, decides to have the child than it’s her decision. If she chooses to have an abortion because the guy’s a deadbeat, then he has to pay for the abortion and any reasonable medical conditions arising from complications.

    Of course, it’s not perfect, but the woman has full choice over what happens to her body and some foreknowledge of what role the father will play. The father doesn’t get saddled with the responsibility of a child he doesn’t want. Making babies is a messy business (at least when it’s good), and no matter how egalitarian you make the laws, biology will always get in the way.

  68. Jennifer,

    We’re talking about consensual sex.

    Women can buy condoms and require their partners to wear them.

    You attach some special significance to the fact that it physically goes on the man but you don’t see the equality associated with who choses whether or not the guy wears one. Either partner can make that choice. It’s absolutely equal.

  69. Why is it that abortion threads so often turn into “No fair that men can be held responsible for kids they help make! No fair! No fair!”?

    Say what you will about abortion, but the bottom line is that if a kid is born and you voluntarily helped create that kid, you are responsible. Deal with it. If you can’t deal with that, keep it in your pants.

    Some things in life aren’t fair. There’s a difference between a free society and a fair society. Libertarianism has a very nice schematic of what a free society should look like. But libertarianism says nothing about a fair society.

  70. a man has to choose whether or not he wears a condom, which means he’s the one in control of wearing one or not.

    Well there’s always (giggle) the female condom. Anyone ever seen one of those? I’ve often wondered exactly how you go about using one…must be hard to “put on”. And the visual I have in my head is extremely unpleasant!

  71. he’s the one in control of wearing one or not

    Not if the woman says wear it or forget it, right? Except for the rare and difficult case of chicanery, I don’t see how condoms are necessarily any less a woman’s choice as a man’s.

    And anyway, why do you hate condoms? 1/2 😉 I thought women generally wanted men to wear them, even aside from its birth control function, for disease prevention! And I thought resistance more often came from men. Am I really naive, or do you kind of have things backwards? Condoms are for women!! (Note: I’m facetiously making a point; I don’t really think condoms are just for women, but as others have noted, women are usually more interested in their use than men and are equally capable, except for cases of extremely masterly chicanery or rape, to decide on their use.)

  72. Fyodor: Exactly, when my current girlfriend and I first got together, I was denied sex until procuring condoms that would not give me contact dermatitis (latex allergy).

    Moreover…I was perfectly okay with this. Now that we’ve been together, geeze, a year and a half we rely on the patch for our birth controlling needs…but if some statistical improbability happens I’m 1/2 responsible, obviously, as I contributed 1/2 the genome.

  73. Personally I cannot wait until a male birth control pill comes on the market – it will change a lot of things. For one, it will be sold over the counter, and then maybe female birth control pills can finally follow suit.

    Women can lie about being on the pill, so men should be able to lie about it too, right? Now either gender can also take a pill in secret.

    It will make for all kinds of interesting situations. Both single and married women who are secretly trying to get pregnant by lying about being on the pill will be thwarted by their suspicious husbands or boyfriends, who will also lie about being on the pill, but in a different way.

    On the next Jerry Springer …

  74. Contract law. Both parties should be able to digitally sign a e-document that states who shall bear what responsibility if sex results in pregnancy. Ideally, women could store such a document in a cell phone with a fingerprint reader, and the man could “sign” the contract with his fingerprint. The contract could be amended at any time, but not retroactively.

    It’s been a long day. I doubt this makes any sense outside of my brain.

  75. thoreau,

    You say “the bottom line is that if a kid is born and you voluntarily helped create that kid, you are responsible” in the context of people talking about paying child support for a kid a woman chooses to have rather than abort. Although you don’t say “equally responsible”, it’s sort of implied in the context of child support.

    And yet, when abortion is brought up, people who favor the woman being able to unilaterally abort say “it’s her womb.” If you use that logic, then a man contributes a sperm, but a woman contributes an egg and a womb. As such, the woman is clearly more responsible for the birth of the child than the man is.

    If all else were equal-and it rarely is-it would be more fair for the woman to take more financial responsibility for the child than the man, since she was much more responsible for it being born, even though both were equally responsible for it being conceived.

    Switching between equality of conception and inequality of birth is part of what makes this topic tricky, especially when people arguing don’t even acknowledge the switch.

    jf,

    If it were possible to make rational laws regarding sexuality, some variant of what you describe certainly appears to me to be much preferable to the current situation.

  76. jf-

    That’s the ultimate American way of doing things: Under your proposal, sex, like anything else, would only be done after contracts and waivers have been signed.

  77. Pirate Jo,

    That’s awesome.

    Jennifer,

    I realize I’m just repeating what some others have said, but in different words. Either the man or the woman can buy condoms and make sex conditional upon a condom being used. Condom use is no more a man’s responsibility than it is a woman’s. As for your counterpoint earlier that men should just get sterilized if they are so worried about paying child support for a child they don’t want, which you offered against the claim that women shoud just get sterilized if they are worried about the health complications of pregnancies, we can change the law which gives context to your claim. We cannot change the biology which gives context to the point you were arguing against.

    Stretch’s suggestions are very fair. It’s insane to suggest that the decision making authority on abortion should rest with the father rather than the mother, but authority should go hand in hand with responsibility.

  78. To be more clear, libertarianism, per se, is neutral on the issue. Give other reasons for parental notification, but please don’t claim libertarianism supports it, or that it “avoid[s] state coercion.”

    I didn’t say that parental notification “avoid[s] state coercion”; I said that they didn’t conflict with that idea. …but you’re right if you think I might be running along those lines.

    I think people should be free to conduct themselves and, indeed, raise their families, more or less, as they see fit. …without their children being subjected to pretty much anything without their parent’s knowledge. You appear to want the government to make an exception here and give health care workers some kind of special protection.

    …and maybe my view’s skewed by having done hard time in a hospital medical records department being responsible for release of information and surgery consent forms. The exception you want to tolerate seems remarkable to me, especially considering that it’s only for one procedure. The government makes an exception that allows some health care worker to reach his arm right up and into your family’s business without your knowledge–and that’s not coercion?

    We’re gonna do this to your daughter, and not only do you not have the right to weigh in on the decision, you don’t even have the right to know?

    Like abortion itself, I’ll admit that this is a gray area for libertarianism although I would think that more libertarians would support a parent’s right to know that their daughter was having an abortion, even if they lean pro-choice. I’m tryin’ imagine a pro-life someone, libertarian or otherwise, comin’ out big against parental notification. That’s a toughie.

    You may not consider it coercion when the government creates a special tolerance for those who give children abortions without a parent’s knowledge, but I fail to see how parental notification increases coercion, any more so than requiring parental consent for any other surgical procedure does.

    Ignoring whether a parent consents is one thing, but ignoring whether a parent knows is another. …How requiring consent becomes coercion seems yet another still.

  79. Why not allow a father to veto the abortion, provided that when the baby is born he has sole custody and is legally required to pay for everything?

    I have a better idea: If abortion is banned as the Christian Right wants, then the government should have the power to tax the religious institutions (we should be taxing churches anyway) and their followers who oppose legal abortion in order to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate the thousands of unwanted children brought into the world due to to such a law.

    If the fetus fetishists want them born so badly, then they can pay for their upkeep.

  80. So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that if a woman has greater power over whether or not the baby is born (via the option of legal abortion) then she should have greater responsibility for the child if she decides to give birth.

    It would follow, of course, that if abortion were illegal then both consenting sexual partners should have equal responsibility for the child.

    Now, many on this forum have argued that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. Even though many of the people holding that position would say that abortion should be legal, abortion should be protected by state law rather than federal law as a matter of federalism. So, let’s explore the consequences of a federalist approach to abortion if we’re arguing that the availability of abortion makes women responsible for children.

    No matter how firmly you believe that states should legalize abortion, by placing the issue in the state arena rather than the federal arena you accept the possibility that some states may ban abortion.

    So, let’s say that a woman lives in a state where abortion is legal when she conceives, but then she moves to a state where abortion is illegal before the child is born. Should the biological father be legally obligated to pay child support?

    What if a woman lives in a state where abortion is illegal, but she lives near the border with a state where abortion is legal. Abortion is easily available to her. Should the biological father be legally obligated to pay child support?

    Since many people on this forum, even pro-choicers, have advocated a federalist approach to abortion, how does that affect a man’s responsibility to his offspring?

  81. anon2:

    Why does there need to be any change in the law to enact contract-based pregnancy agreements? This seems to be more of a market-based solution, which I’d guess would appeal to libertarians, rather than a government-mandated fix. I’m just saying that, if some private interest (like what PayPal was before they sold out, to take an example from a different field) offered such a system, for a nomimal price, there would be an alternative for people worried about what consequences would follow if their fling results in pregnancy.

    Think of it as the procreational version of the pre-nuptial agreement. IIRC, governments didn’t need to pass laws allowing pre-nups; they were an outgrowth of contract law.

  82. Since many people on this forum, even pro-choicers, have advocated a federalist approach to abortion, how does that affect a man’s responsibility to his offspring?

    It doesn’t. I’d argue that nothing after conception affects the responsibility for offspring. …not even death.

    …Does a federalist approach to abortion change the state’s responsibility for unsupported offspring? …not that the state has any responsibility, but would we see states that don’t outlaw abortion make the case that they shouldn’t have to bear the associated costs of states that do? Do you think we’d see a Prop. 187 for single-mothers and their children?

  83. thoreau,

    Why not just say that the state in which the child was conceived has jurisdiction (sp?)?

  84. One clarification – I didn’t mean to suggest that women shouldn’t be able to cross state lines to have an abortion. I just meant that a man could not be made to bear responsibility by virtue of a pregnant woman moving to a prohibitionist state, and he shouldn’t be protected from responsibility by the ease with which a particular woman might be able to cross over to a non-prohibitionist state to get an abortion.

  85. Why not just say that the state in which the child was conceived has jurisdiction

    How exactly can you be sure of where conception occured? If I have sex the night before a trip out of state and the first evening away, how do you pin down which state the baby was conceived in?

  86. Most of us docs could have told you that parental notification would increase the abortion rate…(I’ve had two teens not tell their parents about their second pregnancy until far along, because the parents forced them to abort their first pregnancy).
    The point of parental notification is to help the girl cope emotionally. Most parents love their girls, and help them thru either the abortion or caring for the baby…and most are the best counsellers for this.

  87. I know Jennifer has stated this (many many times) before, but it’s a valid point.

    Just because the responsibility for supporting a born child falls equally among both partners does not somehow validate the father’s right to force a woman to have to go through with the pregnancy.

    Nature has made procreation “unfair”. Such is life. The only way a man should get to veto an abortion would be if he has the ability to carry the child to term and give birth. Otherwise, you are forcing someone else to do something against their will. You don’t get to claim part ownership of a uterus simply because you shot your wad into it.

    As a man you have a right to support your offspring, and you have a right to keep your dick in your pants. You know the rules of the game before you have sex. You don’t have a right to force someone to have the baby you helped create, so let’s stop pretending that having to support your offspring somehow entitles you to dictate what the mother can and should do with her body. You want a baby that bad, go and adopt one.

  88. More on topic:

    The problem, as I see it, with parental notification for abortions is that its a one size fits all solution to a nuanced issue. Although I agree in part with the reasoning behind parental notification, there are many circumstances where the parental notification will be nothing but trouble in the young girl’s life. What do you do in situations where the young girl will be ostracized or kicked out of the house or sent away? What if the parent’s are physically abusive? What if the parents are hard-core pro-lifers and try and force her to keep the baby despite her wishes? Is there any way a parental notification mandate could realistically take these exceptions into account?

    To me there are a lot of issues that surround the subject that need to be addressed. For example:

    Do parents have a right to know if their children are having (concentual) sex?

    Should children have the approval / permission of parents to have (concentual) sex?

    Do sexually active teens have a right to privacy when it comes to their concentual sex life?

    I know when I was between 15+, I felt my concentual sex life was my business, and not something that anyone but me had a right to tell my parents about.

    Abortion, IMHO, is not the same as say fixing a broken leg or broken arm. There is a very private and personal aspect to an abortion. I am not very comfortable with the idea of the government madating you to have to tell someone else your personal secrets.

    If the girl is really young (say 12 or 13) parental notiication makes a lot of sense. But for say a 15, 16 or 17 year old, it doesn’t make as much sense. It seems to me that a 15, 16 or 17 year old is entitled to quite a bit more privacy than a pre-teen.

  89. Nature has made procreation “unfair”. Such is life.

    Because people should be treated equally before the law, some of us have the idea that everyone should be treated the same–that everyone is the same. …and in regards to things like auto theft, I suppose that’s true. …but women are different from us biologically–they have abilities and burdens we don’t, and mens’ responsibilities should be commensurate with their freedom. Unless you were completely unaware that what you were doing might end up as a… …Nah, come to think of it, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    …and regarding equality, women who abandon their children should be held responsible, financially, for the children they leave behind. …just like men.

  90. Well there’s always (giggle) the female condom. Anyone ever seen one of those? I’ve often wondered exactly how you go about using one…must be hard to “put on”

    My ex-girlfriend and I tried it once. Only once. It has a couple of rings on either end that keep it in and stop it from bunching. It took massive amounts of lube to make it worthwile and in the end, it still felt like self-stimulation with a piece of latex for both of us. Theoretically it’s a good idea, but mechanically there’s just no way for it to work.

  91. What do you do in situations where the young girl will be ostracized or kicked out of the house or sent away? What if the parent’s are physically abusive?

    It seems to me that the problems you’ve described are problems with most other issues too. I’ve known people who were kicked out of their homes for drinking. I’ve known people whose strict parents were physically abusive. What does society do about that? Should we prohibit the police from contacting the parents of drunken juvenilles?

    What if the parents are hard-core pro-lifers and try and force her to keep the baby despite her wishes?

    We have a justice system in this country that sometimes lets guilty people go free. There’s the whole innocent until proven guilty thing. We let people drive around in cars, despite the fact that thousands of drivers end up dead every year. Is there a correlation between the availability of handguns and the amount of shooting deaths every year? …I don’t know, but if there is, I think it’s worth it. I think it’s part of living in a free and just society. We let parents make decisions about how to raise their children, some of those parents are sub-average and they’ll make mistakes. Some parents are abusive, and we should throw them in jail.

    Is there any way a parental notification mandate could realistically take these exceptions into account?

    If we legalize marijuana, some people will abuse it and ruin their lives, but… This is mainline libertarian stuff–you know the drill! …Is there a way to make it so that no one can make mistakes in the stock market? Part of freedom is the freedom to make mistakes and taking responsibility for them. …Still, abusing your children is already against the law.

  92. ChicagoTom,

    “How exactly can you be sure of where conception occured? If I have sex the night before a trip out of state and the first evening away, how do you pin down which state the baby was conceived in?”

    This doesn’t strike me as that big of an obstacle. I don’t know what burden of proof is typically required in child support cases (although I get the impression that it is quite low), but if, as in the case you describe, there is a reasonable possibility that conception occurred in a prohibitionist state, the man should not be able to waive his rights and responsibilities as a father.

    “You know the rules of the game before you have sex.”

    As would be the case under the scheme Stretch has suggested. The rules would just be different. I think it is pretty well settled, except among folks who can’t be reasoned with, that a man should not have the ability to veto an abortion regardless of whether he would be obligated to support the child financially. But given that it is totally unreasonable to give the man any rights in that question, it seems entirely reasonable that he not be forced to bear responsibility for the consequences of a decision into which he gets no input.

  93. I’d be fine with waiving the father’s responsibility if he and the mother both agree to that beforehand. The question is, in the absence of a contract, what will the default assumption be? And my answer is that the default should be that both consenting sexual partners are responsible for the well-being of any children that result from their consensual sexual encounter.

    Good luck finding a woman who will sign the “no child support contract” before sex. Even if she’s on the pill, on the rare chance that the pill fails she’ll want to know that the guy will pay up.

  94. thoreau,

    And my answer is that the default should be that the consenting partner with the power to terminate the pregnancy should be responsible for the consequences of choosing not to. Rest assured, you’ll have much less trouble finding men willing to sign the “yes child support contract” before sex.

  95. I’ll add that kids may very well be better off without the involvement of the kind of assholes who would have waived their rights and responsibilities given the chance.

  96. let me settle this:

    until fetuses evolve defenses against abortionists – perhaps some sort of invsibility or “death ray” – they get what’s coming to ’em. freeloaders!

    who wouldn’t want nine months of free room and board? and who pays for it? the mother. and who pays for the mother? our taxes.

    fucking leeches.

  97. dhex-

    Can you believe that some parents not only give their kids 9 months of free room and board in the womb, they actually keep that gravy train rolling until the kids are old enough to do chores? And even the chores aren’t enough to cover living expenses, so in essence the kids are subsidized, sometimes until they finish their education!

    Fucking freeloaders. Go to a Nike factory and get a job, kids. And don’t whine to me about “Oh, I have kindergarten all day.” Work the night shift.

  98. I had a friend who had one of those baby things once. …It pretty much just laid around the place and complained all the time, just like you guys are talkin’ about–not a lick of work. I was ready for that, I’d heard you can’t depend on ’em to pull their weight, but what I didn’t know is that… How do I say this politely? …The darn thing wouldn’t even clean up after itself! …and I’m not talkin’ about the dishes, I mean… …talk about poor personal hygiene!

  99. All I hear all day is excuses why people can’t work. “My back hurts.” “My knees ache.” “I’m only 4!”

  100. Ken-And what about the parents who had an active role in creating the baby in the first place? I had a very close friend who was raped by her stepfather. Her mother helped hide it, and she was too afraid of what he’d do to her sisters if she went to the police. Should she have been forced to notify her parents before she got the abortion?

  101. Shem,

    It would be easy to write the law so that it makes exceptions for exceptional circumstances like the one you describe.

  102. How? Doctors are required by law to report any instances of abuse that they encounter. How could the law possibly get around that?

  103. Should she have been forced to notify her parents before she got the abortion?

    There are many people in this world who suffer mightily, some at the hands of bad parents–I know it happens. I’m not hell bent on increasing the suffering of child abuse victims, really I’m not. Still, I have to wonder how much worse the plight of your friend might have been if a health care worker had contacted one of her parents with this information.

    I suspect information like that could have been used to make your poor friend feel even worse than she did, and that’s a shame. …but I’m skeptical that the notification law would have been the villain there. The villain in that situation was the stepfather and her mother was apparently an accomplice. If the victim wouldn’t, for whatever reason, report the crime, or if the people she reported it to, for whatever reason, refused to help her, then I don’t see what notification laws could have done in that situation to make it much worse.

    …If a child doesn’t or can’t or won’t, for whatever reason, report abuse like that, or if the other parent or someone else who knows refuses to help, then, honestly, I don’t know what society can do for children in those situations. …but I don’t think we should reject otherwise just laws based only on the fear that… If performing abortions on children without a parent’s knowledge is unjust, then I don’t think the fear that it might make abused children, whose parents should be thrown in prison if all the facts were known, feel really bad is sufficient reason to back an unjust practice. Two injustices don’t make a right.

  104. Well, she wound up killing herself after her step-father found out and beat her insensible and kicked her out of the house. So I don’t know what to say to the idea that she would have been better off. To me, a largely symbolic gesture to set parents minds at ease isn’t worth the pain that it would bring about through it’s effects not just on poor children like my friend, but on less extreme cases where the parents force the girl to raise a child she’s unprepared for as punishment, or kick her out of the house outright or get physically abusive. It’s the sort of thing that’s bound to lead to the sort of horror stories that came about before abortion was legal. It’s an awful situation, but it’s not going to get better by forcing regulations that have no real effect on the problem through to make parents feel better.

  105. Shem,

    What a tragedy. Too bad your friend didn’t kill the stepfather instead of herself. I bet he got away with his crimes. And her mother! What an evil piece of shit. I’ve known too many people with parents that chose the step-parent over the children. Humans can be such scum. I have more respect for bacteria.

  106. …If a child doesn’t or can’t or won’t, for whatever reason, report abuse like that, or if the other parent or someone else who knows refuses to help, then, honestly, I don’t know what society can do for children in those situations. …but I don’t think we should reject otherwise just laws based only on the fear that… If performing abortions on children without a parent’s knowledge is unjust

    Not requiring notification laws for instances like this would be a start. You mention “if” performing abortions on children without their parent’s knowledge is unjust–but that’s a pretty big “if.” There are definite cases where such a law would cause harm to children, and the only possible advantage of the law is enhanced peace of mind for some parents?

    Teenage lives in exchange for parental peace of mind–not a good trade-off. Certainly not good enough to justify state force to make it happen.

  107. Another reason to oppose parental notification laws? Ask the parents of former Indiana teenager Becky Bell:

    Indiana had a parental notification law in 1988. But Bell’s daughter, Becky, did not want to tell her parents, so she had an illegal abortion. She died a week later from complications caused by dirty instruments used in the procedure, her father said after a news conference preceeding the hearing.

    Bill Bell said he came to West Virginia “to put a name and a face to an issue.”

    “There’s a few young women who get pregnant and can’t, for whatever reason, and won’t, for whatever reason, involve mom and dad. They are the young women I want to protect so there is not another Becky Bell,” he said.

    These laws don’t force young women to do what we want them to do. The law in Indiana didn’t force Becky to come to us,” he said.

    http://www.hdonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060221/NEWS01/602210353&theme=

    Gee, I wonder why even a girl with a good family life might not want to tell Mommy and Daddy she’s knocked up? But still, I’m sure this law did shitloads of good for the Bells’ peace of mind, right until their daughter died. Right, guys?

  108. Jennifer:

    The Becky Bell thing is interesting. Even more intersting is how advocacy groups on both sides of the issue are telling completely different stories of how she died (there was no evidence of an abortion, she died of pneumonia v. she died from an illegal abortion). Does anyone have links to primary sources of information, because all I can find are NARAL-type organizations holding her up as a martyr and anti-abortion groups “telling the true story” about her death.

  109. Does anyone have links to primary sources of information, because all I can find are NARAL-type organizations holding her up as a martyr and anti-abortion groups “telling the true story” about her death.

    Are you saying that her parents (her father in particular) are lying about how she died?

  110. Can’t there be any number of horror stories brought up about laws which had unintended consequences?

    Perhaps we should be more concerned about illegal abortionists and their dirty instruments? This girl had brains and gumption enough to find an illegal abortionist (where do they advertise, in the back of Seventeen?) but not to buy a condom?

    Deciding legistation by anecdote leads to bad legislative decisions.

  111. Can’t there be any number of horror stories brought up about laws which had unintended consequences? Perhaps we should be more concerned about illegal abortionists and their dirty instruments?

    And so long as drugs remain illegal, perhaps we should be more concerned with drug dealers who cut their products with rat poison.

    The thing about this parental-notification business is that there are plenty of bad consequences possible, but no good ones. If a girl feels comfortable with talking to her parents if she finds herself pregnant, she will talk to them, regardless of whether or not the law requires her to. And if she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to her parents she’ll find a way around it, regardless of what the law says.

    By the way, how do you know she didn’t use a condom?

  112. Deciding legistation by anecdote leads to bad legislative decisions.

    I have sometimes observed that for every teenage girl who [committed suicide/died from an illegal abortion/??] horror story “pro-choicers” can come up with “pro-lifers” can come up with ten middle-aged women whose live were “ruined” because they had abortions at some time.

    I voted against Florida’s parental notification initiative when it was on the ballot and was disappointed (but not surprized) when it passed. I will give the legislature credit that they put in a provision* for a judge to grant an exemption under certain circumstances. Since the circumstances are quite broad the law is pretty inneffective. But as a token it is there.

    *Not that they had much of a choice. Without such a provision parental notification laws are pretty much doomed to be ruled unconstitutional.

  113. I have sometimes observed that for every teenage girl who [committed suicide/died from an illegal abortion/??] horror story “pro-choicers” can come up with “pro-lifers” can come up with ten middle-aged women whose live were “ruined” because they had abortions at some time.

    It says something significant, that the anti-choice horror story boils down to “I made a choice I don’t like! If only the choice had been illegal so I could have been saved from myself!”

  114. “That’s the ultimate American way of doing things: Under your proposal, sex, like anything else, would only be done after contracts and waivers have been signed.”

    (The conversation is about to go off on a tangent.)
    You nearly need a signed agreement now anyways to ensure sex was consentual in the first place and that someone doesn’t wake up the next day (or decide mid-coitus) call it was a mistake and charge a guy with rape.

  115. It says something significant, that the anti-choice horror story boils down to “I made a choice I don’t like! If only the choice had been illegal so I could have been saved from myself!”

    Jennifer, the fact that you can apply that kind of logic does not mean everyone else can.

  116. Jennifer, the fact that you can apply that kind of logic does not mean everyone else can.

    I honestly don’t know if that was a compliment or an insult. But I’ll say this–I regret having wasted my late-teenage youth dating asshole Navy pilots, but I do not support a ban on dating asshole Navy pilots. Yes, it’s a foolish thing to do, but some lessons can’t be enforced by the government–you have to learn them yourself.

  117. I honestly don’t know if that was a compliment or an insult.

    It was just an observation, but definitely not intended as an insult.

    A lot of people find such arguments convincing, even though you or I might find them based on flimsy logic.

  118. jf,

    You can read Becky’s story and more as it was presented to Congress.

  119. Teenage lives in exchange for parental peace of mind–not a good trade-off. Certainly not good enough to justify state force to make it happen.

    I’m not sure that’s the trade off. …and even if it was, wouldn’t you support, say, marijuana legalization even if it put children at risk?

    …and “state force”? State force is when government goes out of its way to protect health care workers from legal responsibility they would normally have.

    …and no one suggested that we revoke laws that prohibit parents from beating their children to death.

  120. Jennifer:

    I’m not saying anyone is lying. I have heard of parents, though, who went into denial about how their child died and looked for someone else to blame. Without knowing anything about this man, I wouldn’t say that’s the case, but I just wanted to see some original reporting on this, instead of seeing the facts spun by the various advocacy groups.

    anon2:

    Thanks, but that’s just as politicized as the pro-life and pro-choice stories on Miss Bell I was reading earlier.

  121. I’m not sure that’s the trade off. …and even if it was, wouldn’t you support, say, marijuana legalization even if it put children at risk?

    I don’t think pot legalization is the right analogy here, Ken–legalization means telling the government to stop interfering with what people do, whereas parental notification means allowing the government to interfere with what people do.

    I have heard of parents, though, who went into denial about how their child died and looked for someone else to blame

    I’ve heard of it too, but usually the denial runs in the other direction: “I refuse to believe my little angel died from a botched abortion so I’ll pretend she died of pneumonia,” not “I refuse to believe my little angel died of pneumonia so I’ll pretend she died from a botched abortion.”

  122. I don’t think pot legalization is the right analogy here, Ken–legalization means telling the government to stop interfering with what people do, whereas parental notification means allowing the government to interfere with what people do.

    Take your pick, Jennifer. Drug legalization? Gun control? Seat belt laws? Torture? Which of these is okay because it might save some children’s lives?

    …and, once again, I think it’s interference when the government goes out of its way to protect health care workers from legal responsibility they would normally have otherwise.

  123. Jennifer:

    Excellent point.

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