Barton Hinkle wrote an op-ed for yesterday's Times-Dispatch observing that liberals who argued against the state's tough new laws regulating abortion clinics sound like laissez-faire capitalists. Hinkle seems to think that this is a significant observation, but I'm not sure why. Are Virginia liberals guilty of inconsistency on this issue? Hypocrisy, even? So what? As Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
Liberals don't wake up in the morning thanking God for government regulations. If you asked a liberal what he or she thought about regulations--and if Hinkle hasn't done this, he really should--they'd likely say, "It depends." The answer "It depends" is not a sign of inconsistency, but of a lack of ideological rigidity that frees people to find pragmatic solutions to problems.
Who teaches this talking point to all the so-called opponents of big gubmunt? I can't tell you how often I've gotten into an argument with a conservative who wanted to make the issue all about the hypocrisy of the left when I wanted to make the issue all about... the issue.
In this case, the issue really is, Do you think that safe and legal abortions should be available in Virginia, or not? For non-Virginians, the legislation would require first trimester abortions to be performed in hospital-grade facilities, not doctor's office-grade facilities, as is the current practice for abortions and similarly risky procedures such as colonoscopies. The practical consequence will be the closure of most of the state's abortion clinics.
The bill's sponsors claim that this is all about the health and safety of women, but creating a situation in which the only abortions available in Virginia are in the proverbial back alleys is a strange way of protecting women's health.
In an ideal world there would be no abortions. In this less-than-ideal world, I think a sound policy is something like Bill Clinton's "safe, legal and rare," the rare part ensured not by the chicanery we saw in Richmond last week, but by implementing much of the 95-10 proposal that Democrats for Life has long supported.
Is that inconsistent? Who cares? Is it the better policy? That's the real question.