Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Unintended Consequence of Laws

I'm in Texas, and lo and behold, the local paper (Waco Tribune-Herald) has yet another story about the unintended consequences of a law passed by the Texas Legislature. This time around, the "Lege" (as Molly Ivins calls it) has added a new category to the death penalty. The intent of the law was to require parental consent (not just notification) before a minor gets an abortion, and to restrict late-term abortions. However, in combination with a 2003 change in the definition of an individual in homicide statutes (previously "a human being who has been born and is alive"; now "a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation, from fertilization until birth"), makes a doctor who performs any illegal abortion eligible for the death penalty. Zowie.

This follows on the heels of the Lege's efforts earlier in 2005 to outlaw heterosexual marriage. The idea, of course, was to protect heterosexual marriage from the horrific threat of lesbians having a legal marriage from which to adopt cats children. However, the bill sought to outlaw any marriage-like arrangement. Not any same-sex arrangement, but any arrangement.

Yes, this is also the same state that makes possession of one dildo a misdemeanor and possession of six or more a felony. Efforts to repeal the silly statute have been rebuffed.

For those of you in my adopted state of California (where I've now spent almost half my life), keep this in mind the next time you think about "sending a message" by voting for some initiative, or worse yet, amendment to the state constitution. Are you sure, just from reading a half-page ballot summary, that the initiative will really send the "message" you wanted?