Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Evangelical Economics

Say it ain't so! But, yes, economics can be put to use to promote the aims of religious conservatives.

Marginal Revolution offers this example: a study that finds that teenage girls engage in less risky sex if the "cost" of abortions is raised by the adoption of parental notification laws.

Since reducing risky sex by making abortion costlier is also associated with lower rates of teenage pregnancy and STI, the authors clearly approve of parental notification laws.

Indeed, the authors do discover the very obvious point that teenagers do respond to incentives. In fact, using their logic, why don't we go all the way and make abortion illegal again?

I'm not getting into THAT argument. I just want to make the obvious point that there are other, more effective, ways of reducing the incidence of STI's/pregnancy among teenagers: mandatory, realistic and rigorous sexual education and easy access to contraceptives. Áfter all, this works fine in Western Europe, where abortion and teenage pregnancy rates are orders of magnitude lower than in the United States.

Yet, this alternative ignored, both by the authors and by politicians, even though it's more humane than the return to the days of coathanger abortions.

But that's exactly the problem with fundamentalists. They can't distinguish between sinful behavior. In other words, to them fornication is just as bad as murder.

Hence, they'll resist making contraceptives more accesible to teenagers and proving them with decent sex-ed, even though that would probably make abortion much rarer than straight prohibition ever could. Hence, they oppose making emergency contraception available over the counter. Hence, they oppose a vaccine against the sexually-transmitted HP virus that kills thousands of women each year.

In a way, these people are just as vile as their Islamic cousins.