Pee Anywhere?

This one might get me in trouble despite my best efforts to not offend.Sorry in advance.

If you read as many conservative blogs as I do, you may have seen the celebrations over the latest Gallup poll.

David Frum has a theory about that poll.

Charles Franklin of Pollster.com explains the poll’s big technical error. Gallup oversampled Republicans. At a time when only 1 in 5 Americans identifies as Republican, 32 percent of the respondents in Gallup’s survey group identified themselves as Republican.

[snip]


As the Republican Party shrinks, it becomes more conservative. Today’s shriveled GOP is much more pro-life than the robust GOP of years past. So if you oversample Republicans, you are oversampling pro-lifers. Sure enough, when you look at Gallup’s breakdown of its results, all the rise in anti-abortion feeling is concentrated among self-identified Republicans.

More interesting to me though is his analysis that

…Gallup’s poll is wrong in a far more important way. For all their vehement disagreement, pro-lifers and pro-choicers agree that the abortion debate is about rights: the woman’s right to choose, the unborn child’s right to life. Pro-choicers may sternly disapprove of the irresponsible woman who casually discards one pregnancy after another. Pro-lifers may feel tremendous sympathy for the woman considering abortion because she feels she cannot raise a child on her own. Both agree that the reason for the abortion is absolutely irrelevant.

The 55% of us who are neither absolutely pro-life or pro-choice (or both! Choose life!) frame it a little differently.

Frum talks through a couple of scenarios in the grey area


“Suppose a woman has two boyfriends at the same time, gets pregnant, and wants an abortion so she won’t have to admit to her two-timing. Is that okay?”

“Now suppose another woman is working her way through college. Her boyfriend dumps her when she tells him she’s pregnant. If she carries the baby, she’ll have to drop out and take any job she can find in this tough economy. She has decided abortion is her best choice—should the government stop her?”

but I am too much of a coward to go there so I’ll switch to an analogy.

The Straight Dope has a fascinating discussion about the ethics surrounding peeing in public places. Pretty much everyone agrees that peeing in public places is wrong…but sometimes it’s the least wrong option.

But it’s hard to encode that kind of moral calculus into law. The law wants things to be completely legal or completely illegal while morality is rarely so black and white.

And when the law does try address complex moral issues it ends up in tying itself up in knots – it’s illegal to pee in public unless you are with your mother, are under three and can’t make it to MacDonalds …or it’s after nightfall and there is a tree and no cars are passing by for at least 20 seconds.

How much better would the legal system be if there were a class of professionals trained in the law but given the discretion to judge whether something, though technically illegal, was merited because of extenuating circumstances (Jeff has suggested a name for this class of professionals – judgers).

My analogy breaks down though because we already have a class of professionals that is more than adequately equipped to make this kind of judgment in the case of abortion. They are called doctors. The law has nothing to add.


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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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