Monday, January 26, 2009

Pro ? part two

My first elaborate post on the future of abortion predictably only garnered comments from Dr. Clam, but that is ok. I know there are a couple of other interested readers (eg Lexifab???), but I really wanted to knuckle down on breaking down the discrepancies between our future visions (which we believe to be realistic within our lifetimes). These seem to be:
1) The plausibility of the commoditisation of surrogacy/adoption/fostering such that it impacts on the demand for abortions.

2) The plausibility of artificial wombs as a way to replace abortions with transfers of the fetus to be incubated, then brought up by interested NGO's or government organisations.

Obviously from my posts and comments I believe 1) to be plausible and 2) not to be plausible, and I guess these were implied axioms in my argument that contradict Dr. Clams'. These points deserve more attention a they are fairly definitive points of difference.

As for the first one, there is a tension between very strong instincts to favour bringing up ones own genetic offspring rather than an adopted child. For example, the amount parents are willing to pay for an IVF surrogacy of their own DNA ($100,000) over the cost of an overseas adoption ($20,000) demonstrates both that there is already a nascent (or limited) market for babies, and that there is a distinct tension between what buyers expect, and what sellers can readily deliver. I believe that gradual increased scope of these markets, combined with reduced natural fertility from couples that desire a baby will erode that tension. ie. as it gets harder and harder to fall pregnant (compared to the whims of the individual), naturally and then via IVF etc., domestic paid-for adoption will become more attractive. As the demand for babies goes up, so will the price, changing the economic calculus of those who would otherwise have an abortion. There is obviously more to it than just that, but the cost of BRINGING UP a baby is usually the primary concern more than the cost of bringing the baby to term. The choice at the moment is mainly economic. If the choice is between abort and adopt, abort brings the better individual outcome (for the parent). If it was between abort and sell, it would depend on the price, and the imagined future for the child.

To point 2: I strongly believe that breakthrough artificial womb technologies will be irrelevant to replacing abortion. My objections are two fold -
a) I don't believe it to be technically feasible.
b)It presumes a certain societal dynamic which contradicts the societal dynamic that I perceive.

To start with, I don't believe that just because neonatal units can keep babies alive if born at 24 weeks, that an "unwanted" pregnancy that reaches that point ought to be terminated by caesarian section and the baby fostered out. Increased survival rates for premature babies does not translate to earlier separation of mother and child being a good idea under any imaginable circumstance.

The societal dynamic of abortion that is ignored is that for an aborting mother the concept is of a reversal of the pregnancy. The early removal of the live fetus is not the same thing, and if it was the mothers decision, the perceived effectiveness of the receiving entity to deal with children would be the deciding factor. In a society where pregnancies were automatically registered at conception, sexual norms would radically alter depending on various laws, changing the whole spectrum of who's pregnancies would become unwanted in ways dependent on a number of independent variables. In itself the extra option of early live removal of a fetus will not be perceived as a replacement for abortion by women with undesired pregnancies any more than adoption is now.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Geopolitical game theory rules

I have often mentioned game theory, rules, and the UN in the same sentence. Do not mistake this for a belief that the UN is of any relevance at all as a lawmaker in itself. Not only that, Australia would be my first choice as a world government, followed by the USA. The UN as a "government" is a toothless paper tiger and not capable of governing.

The set of treaties that have been signed by countries *does* determine the structure of the game and the moves each country can reasonably make. Thus, no matter what in theory the UN "decides", for instance on Iraq - the US being a security council veto member could not be stopped by the UN itself, but only by the domestic voting public that cared about what the UN decided.

Similarly with Russia in Georgia, China in Tibet, and in some way - Israel in Lebanon and now Gaza. The UN is important only in the sense of the importance of the individual treaties to the actions of various countries.

Thus several theoretically sensible annexations or merging of countries are very very unlikely due to the dynamics associated with how those treaties associated with the UN manifest themselves in Geopolitics.

Thus to consider entertaining possibilities like Australia annexing Pacific states etc., a new post-UN world order would have to be assumed first.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year Stuff

At this time of year, I tend to look back and try to think what historical turning points have happened. The one that comes to mind is dated 08/08/08 - the Georgian conflict. To me it marks the end of the relatively short historical period which I would characterise as "Unipolar", with the US as the only global police with teeth and some level of morality. It is back to a relative free-for-all in warfare, and in trade.

As far as domestic politics goes, I am not too impressed with the changes to the baby bonus system, even though personally I still get the same amount of money albeit at a considerably later date. My preference was for family payments to start *When a pregnancy is registered* both for the practical reason that you need to buy stuff for the baby before it is born, and that it moves more towards vision X by considering the unborn baby as a person, at the time that the mother considers it to be at the least. This is one of the most win-win of the steps towards vision X, and a new years resolution is to put it to the public somehow in 2009.