Thursday, June 3, 2010

Arbitrary is Bad

It's particularly bad when you're making life or death decisions. How happy would you be if your doctor was arbitrary? "I think I'll pull out, eenie meenie miney mo, this organ. Oops."

Arbitrary does not instill confidence in the "critical" first trimester point, or the arbitrary Supreme Court Justice who came up with this point. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court did away with its own rule of law based on the trimester calendar. "We reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe v. Wade."

Well, bad law is what happens when you're an arbitrary coin-flipper. "Divide the pregnancy into thirds!" That was Blackmun's big arbitrary idea.

You don't need a secret memo to see that the trimester system is an arbitrary standard without any basis in anything. Trimesters don't coincide with any medical facts whatsoever. When the calendar flips over from trimester one to trimester two, nothing has changed with baby. She's a day older, that's it. It's an arbitrary point on the calendar. It's like saying you can have abortions on Thursdays. You can have abortions when the moon is full.

So why are doctors dividing pregnancies up in the first place? I have no idea. Why are there twelve months in a year? Why are there sixty seconds in a minute? Some people just like to divide shit up. It's not a big deal or anything. Up until the day Harry Blackmun smacked his gavel down and said, "We're making it official." And dividing the pregnancy into thirds, this completely arbitrary idea, this handy doctor calendar, became part of our Constitution.

After overruling the trimester system in Casey, Justice Kennedy brings it up again in Carhart II. Why is he bringing up this irrelevant point all over again? I don't know. Habit. I kinda think he's shouting out that 85-90% number, so you don't freak out too much about all the arm-ripping and head-decapitation that he describes in his opinion.

Yeah, maybe it sounds homicidal, but remember, it's a small percentage!

What Justice Kennedy is saying is that out of the 46,000,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade, only 4-7 million of them involve the serious dismemberment and decapitation that you see in Carhart I and II. So that's reassuring. I guess. That could be the motto of our Supreme Court. "We're not as bad as Chairman Mao."

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