Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Marginal Abortion
It's official, I'm putting Marginal Revolutions on the left-hand side. They had this post about the decline in teen pregnancy based on new research by Steven Levitt, who has put forward the theory on legalized abortion's contribution to the decline in crime in the '90s.

This reminds me of an argument I always wanted to put forward in the days before blogging. I always thought the most interesting solution to the abortion debate, sure to piss off people on all sides, was to make it illegal for people 18 and older, but mandatory for people under 18. The theory being that people under 18 are not adults and are treated protectively in other ways (e.g., can't vote, can't join the military, can't buy cigarettes, in some states can't be sentenced to death for crimes, can't see R-rated movies--you could drop it maybe to 16 to get driving and workplace regulations), so why should they be parenting? Oh, you're twelve years old, you can't drive or work, but, ah, what the heck, you can have a baby!

On the flip side, you put responsibility on the mother for her sexual actions (we could obviously except rape, incest, life of the mother); given that she's an adult she has free choice to use contraception or make her partners use it, so there's little excuse for an unwanted pregnancy.

Mind you, I don't necessarily belive this, but like I said, it's sure to piss people off and it makes for an interesting, volatile debate and would have interesting repercussions: imagine all the well-off families who would push to exempt their children because they could afford to care for the grandchild (or because they thought it unethical and were willing to take on the responsibility), meaning poor people would disproportionately bear the burden of my rule; imagine what this might do for Medicaid costs, considering abortion is substantially cheaper than live birth; and so on...Just something to think about.

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