Ross Douthat promotes 12,000 murders per year

The Medicaid-contraception-funding provision stripped from the stimulus bill could have prevented 12,000 abortions per year. Ross Douthat thinks that abortion is murder, but that preventing 12,000 of them is nothing to get excited about.

The provision in the stimulus bill to allow more states access to a program Medicaid pays for contraception, stripped from the bill by conservatives, could have prevented 12,000 abortions per year. Ross Douthat isn’t impressed: that’s only a 1-2% reduction in the abortion rate, he says.

But wait a minute. Doesn’t Douthat consider abortion “murder”? Why, I believe that he does, or at least that he says he does, in order to be able to label his political opponents as supporters of “feticide.” Is eliminating 12,000 murders per year really something to sneeze at?

Note also the complete illogic Douthat employs: because Catholics don’t in fact pay much attention to the Church’s anti-contraception teachings, it must be the case that right-to-life fanatics haven’t managed to torque American public policy around in ways that make contraception less available. (Plan B, anyone?)

Some people think that Douthat was a better-than-average choice for the NYT conservative-columnist slot. If so, what does that say about the competition?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: