Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tom Horner doesn't know what he's talking about

At a press conference, Independence Party candidate for governor Tom Horner said, "I don't believe that the kind of [pro-life] state laws that typically are passed are designed to reduce abortion. I think they are designed to drive political wedges."

I have three thoughts about this. First, Horner is implying something about the intentions of those who draft and advocate pro-life legislation. But I can say with certainty that he's wrong. If he was at all familiar with those of us involved in this effort, he would know that our only goal is to save lives.

Second, studies show that "the kind of state laws that typically are passed" reduce abortions and save lives. Horner obviously doesn't know this, but it seems to me that he should have at least bothered to look into the issue before basing his abortion position on a false claim.

According to Dr. Michael New (who studies the effect of abortion laws -- see here and here, for example), among the types of pro-life laws that have been passed in the post-Roe v. Wade era, bans on public funding of abortion are the most effective in reducing abortions. Ironically, in the same press conference, Horner specifically said he would not support such a ban. (Horner apparently did not know that we have taxpayer funding of abortion in Minnesota until reporters at the press conference told him.)

Informed consent laws also have a clear record of reducing abortions. Minnesota's informed consent law -- called Woman's Right to Know -- was passed in 2003; since then, when provided with basic factual information prior to an abortion procedure, more than 10,000 women have chosen life for their unborn children. Yet Horner also specifically came out against Woman's Right to Know.

Third, it seems a bit odd that Horner says he wants to reduce the number of abortions (in the press conference he said this repeatedly). Presumably one wants to reduce abortions because there's something wrong with abortion, and presumably what's wrong with abortion is that it takes the life of an innocent human being. And that seems as good a reason as any for government involvement, for it seems that, as a matter of basic justice, the state ought to protect its people from being unjustly killed. Yet Horner does not support such protection against abortion -- on the contrary, he wants the government to fund elective abortions, as if abortion is a public good.

What's clear is that Tom Horner doesn't know what he's talking about.