To counter judgment on abortion, move from recriminations to development

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The recent Supreme Court ruling allowing states to restrict abortion has pleased conservatives and alarmed social liberals. Differences in values ​​have always existed, with everyone firmly convinced of their own moral superiority. It’s not a question of men versus women. In every state that restricts abortion, women put men in the minority. Regional cultural differences are not going away anytime soon. Elevating these differences to the center of public life accentuates them.

The culture wars have been incredibly destructive and divert attention from pressing issues. The United States is deeply troubled. life expectancy here, once higher than in many Western European countries, is now tied with developing countries like Colombia and Ecuador. Heated disputes over cultural issues have led many social conservatives – including many Christians who traditionally sympathize with the poor and promote environmental protection – to form political coalitions with economic conservatives, who favor lower taxes, less public investment and minimal regulation to protect the environment, consumers and workers.

The regions of the United States that levy the highest taxes and invest the most in infrastructure, education, public health, food security and environmental protection tended to grow the most. productive and the healthiest populations. Public investment drives economic growth and improves people’s health.

State laws restricting abortion do not impede the ability of well-educated and prosperous people to cross state lines to obtain an abortion. The best way to counter bad local laws is to empower people to escape them.

But people in less developed regions are hampered by limited public transportation options, financial resources and educational opportunities. Many of these problems can be mitigated by prudent public investment.

We can help people living in these areas, without requiring them or their neighbors to give up their sense of identity or moral values, by focusing government primarily on economic development and individual mobility rather than cultural indoctrination. The time, energy and money that was spent determining whether Missouri’s abortion laws should be adopted by Illinois or vice versa could be better spent improving the speed and frequency of trains connecting St. Louis to Chicago.

Whereas access to abortion can improve women’s health and economic opportunity, political trade-offs that involve slightly less convenient access in exchange for increased public funding for education, public transit, and health care may help women (and men) more ). Indeed, women in many European countries where Christian political parties have formed coalitions with the social democrats, as Ireland and Italy, simultaneously receive more generous economic protections while facing more legal restrictions on abortion compared to their American counterparts. Italians and Irish women now live years longer than their American counterparts.

Culture wars against race can also be counterproductive. In France, Germany and a lot in western and northern Europe, the governments not allowed even to collect race data, let alone use it to award government contracts, jobs, or college admissions. Indeed, Europeans see legalized racial classification and discrimination, even in the form of affirmative action to help minorities, as reminiscent of what happened in Nazi Germany. Yet racial minorities in Western Europe are less likely to be detained Where realized. Even the most liberal American states have incarceration rate which look medieval by Western European standards.

After World War II, a development-oriented approach helped transform German and Japanese chauvinist societies into economic powerhouses and bastions of liberalism. To accomplish this long-term transformation, the Allies had to make tactical concessions to local moral values, even treating many war criminals with clemency.

Conflicts over cultural and social issues have ravaged the United States more than military conflicts. After centuries of religious, ethnic and ideological conflict, European priorities have changed. They are now more interested in maintaining a functional public sector concerned with the well-being of its population than in the fight against Kulturkampfs.

When will Americans be mature enough to follow this proven recipe for success? When will we learn to respect those whose moral values ​​are different from our own, to work together on common ground, and to rebuild?

Michael Simkovic is the Leon Benwell Professor of Law and Accounting at USC Gould School of Law.

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