Friday, February 27, 2009

AK Death Penalty and Abortion Bills, Oh My!

Isn't it Sarah Palin who says government should be put back in the hands of the people?  Isn't she all about keeping government small and getting it out of the way?  Hasn't she repeatedly said that government is not the answer?

Government makes laws, and yet no matter how hard government tries, every law has the potential of doing some harm in spite of the good it intends.

There is a death penalty bill and an abortion law working their way through the Alaska legislature.  Both laws have the potential to do great harm.  Both laws have Sarah Palin's support.

Instituting the Death Penalty
(Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, sponsor)

Granted, some people have been guilty of committing horrible crimes. But there are also plenty of people who have been found guilty of horrible crimes yet they were innocent.  Innocent people have been executed in states that support the death penalty.  What greater harm could the state do?

What I don't understand is how a person can be adamantly "pro-life" and at the same time believe the state should kill people for their crimes.  Studies show that states without the death penalty have had consistently lower murder rates than states that do impose a death sentence. This tells me that the possibility of being put to death if caught does nothing to deter such crimes, which is the stated justification for the death penalty.

To strike a religious chord, the Christian Bible says that Jesus asked his heavenly father to forgive those who murdered him, "for they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)  I doubt Jesus would have supported the death penalty.

Parental Consent for Teen Abortions
(Alaska HB 35 and SB 6)

  On the surface, a law that requires caregivers to obtain the consent from parents of girls under 17 who seek an abortion sounds almost reasonable.  What harm could come of such a law? 

It is unrealistic to think that the only teens who get pregnant are delinquent, rebellious tramps with intact, loving, supportive, well-off families capable of providing everything a young mother and her baby needs.

Incest is real.  Rape happens.  Parents can be impoverished, or abusive, or addicts, or just single and struggling.  Some parents may believe the choice they make for their pregnant daughter, based on their own religious beliefs, is the right one.  They may be blind to the ramifications for their daughter's future.

Can a law force families to be whole, supportive, loving? Can a law insure that every child in every home has access to sex education and contraceptives in case abstinence doesn't work?  Can a law prevent incest or rape from happening?  Will the law insure that the special needs of a teenage mom and the child she may be forced to bear be met, during and after pregancy?  What about continuing support for the child as it grows up?  Or will the law provide free counseling for the teen mom if she has to put the baby up for adoption?

The main problem I see with the proposed consent law is that it is one-sided. The law does nothing to protect children, not the teen mother and not her child. The law only serves to cover for parents who failed to raise their children in an environment that made real communication between those parents and their children the norm.  

If a teenage daughter is unable, for whatever reason, to come to her parents when she discovers she is pregnant, that is not something the state can solve.

I think a law that prescribes penalties for parents who allow their children to procreate as teenagers makes at least as much sense.  But I doubt that Sarah would support that, now would she?

[Edited to add image credits, fair use claimed:
Hangman's Noose
In the Name of God (Pregnant Teenager)]
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