If, as reported, Republicans are conditioning federal appropriations on anti-abortion zealotry, it seems appropriate to consider the predictable trajectory of continuing to indulge the zealots.
The fight is not over abortion. Abortion is lawful. The fight is not over federal funding of abortion. The strident minority of Americans who believe most of their countrymen are cold-blooded murderers were appeased on that point long ago. The current fight is over a bill of attainder with respect to those who provide services to women who seek an abortion.
Anti-abortion advocates will never stop. Reasonable people differ on many issues concerning abortion, but the dead-enders believe they are on a mission from God (think: Jake and Elwood). If we were to permit attachment of a bill of attainder to Planned Parenthood, the anti-abortion movement, emboldened anew, could be expected to seek to attach similar financial collars to physicians who perform abortions (or refer patients for abortions, or discuss abortions, or think about abortions). Perhaps those physicians could be barred from participation in Medicare or Medicaid, or barred from using facilities that have received a single federal dollar.
After the crusade against physicians, the predictable step would be to step on women. Women who have chosen an abortion could be barred from federal employment. Women who have chosen an abortion could be declared ineligible to participate in federal programs involving student aid, small business loans or passports.
After that, it gets tougher to identify the proper moral path. Maybe the children of women who have had an abortion could be denied school lunches?
At some point, the recurring need to identify abortion offenders would generate a costly administrative nightmare. A solution: Tattooing a scarlet "A" on appropriate foreheads.
That, or we could just stop indulging the nuts.
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