Monday, May 9, 2022

'Last Week Tonight' examines Alito's leaked draft opinion and what it could mean

I quoted John Oliver examines the Supreme Court after 'Last Week Tonight' wins four Emmy Awards, mentioning "all the bad things that can happen to health care, reproductive rights, civil rights, and voting rights" in 'Saturday Night Live' mocks Alito's leaked Supreme Court opinion to open its Mother's Day episode and adding that "If Alito's draft becomes the majority opinion, then bad things will have happened to health care, reproductive rights, and civil rights all at once. This will become one of those times when I wish the comedians and I weren't right." That night, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" broadcast Abortion Ruling, which the show and HBO uploaded this morning.

John Oliver discusses the leaked draft opinion that looks set to overturn Roe v. Wade, how we got to this point, and where we may be headed.
Oliver didn't go as far back as the 1200s, which "Saturday Night Live" did. He only had to note Sir Matthew Hale from the 1600s to point out the antiquated sources Justice Alito cited to support his draft opinion, who was bad enough.

As for Oliver mocking Chuck Schumer saying "this is not your grandfather's Republican Party," yes and no. In terms of style, it certainly isn't, but on reproductive rights, it's been heading this way for decades. While I didn't mention reproductive rights in If I were still a conservative, disagreement with the anti-abortion movement inside the Republican Party, which had nearly completed its takeover of the party by 2000, certainly contributed. My environmentalism, which I did mention in that post from eleven years ago as a reason I left the GOP, leads me to favor birth control, including abortion as a last resort, in order to reach zero population growth. My feminism adds to my support for reproductive rights. I explained both in CNBC asks 'Is The U.S. Running Out Of People?'
U.S. birth rates have been dropping for more than a decade and fertility rates have been dropping for even longer than that. In fact, U.S. fertility rates have been at or below replacement rate since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion. Economic uncertainty and other factors have contributed to the trend.

Second, increased population is bad for the environment, as expressed by the variable P in I=P*A*T "where I is impact, P is population, A is affluence, and T is technology." Impact increases as both population and affluence increases; both drive up demand for resources and create more waste and pollution. Therefore, keeping population down will help the environment. By keeping human population below the carrying capacity for our species, it helps people as well.

Third, increasing educational and economic opportunities for women is the number one way to decrease birth rates and keep them down, although increasing economic security might put a floor under the declining birth rates. Women's education and a stronger economy will also increase affluence, which will increase impact if more efficient technologies don't counteract both affluence and population.
Notice that I started this section by crediting Roe v. Wade for beginning the current period of low birth rates. That Oliver cites an estimate of 75,000 more children being born if (when) it's overturned demonstrates its effectiveness at lowering U.S. population growth.  Therefore, overturning it strikes me as generally bad for sustainability.

What I see as an unfortunate outcome is one that opponents of abortion regard as a good one, including for its economic effects as an alternative solution to the one I proposed last year.
[I]f not enough babies are born in the U.S. to meet our job demand, the country can allow more immigration. I'm O.K. with that, but Donald Trump became president in large part because many Americans weren't and still aren't. That's why, when one of my students asked in 2015 if the U.S. would ever adopt Chinese population policies, I responded no, that's not the American way. If the U.S. thinks it has an overpopulation issue, it would restrict immigration. The next week, Trump rode down the escalator and denounced immigrants. This is one of those cases where I hate being proved right.
If increasing immigration is not an acceptable solution, then increasing the U.S. birth rate would be. It's a way of avoiding what I worried about four years ago and have repeated several times since.
I have been in favor of zero population growth for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the U.S. economy is set up for a stable or slowly declining population, a point I made in the Hipcrime Vocab: Why Slowing Population Growth is a Problem. We are going to have to figure how to do so. Otherwise, I might live long enough to experience the wisdom of the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."
I can say the same thing for the opponents of Roe v. Wade, who now seem to be moving on to restricting contraception. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

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