Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The "Culture of Life" Tax Break!

Last week, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith – also known as the White House – issued guidelines warning doctors that they must provide medical treatment for miscarried fetuses or face prosecution under federal child abuse laws. The Oval Fathers based their decree on a bull issued in 2002 by His Holy-Moleyness George II, who – in a ruling that has largely escaped public notice – bestowed legal rights on fetuses "at any stage of development," the Washington Post reports.

Eschewing the unsound science of, er, science, the Bush bull declares that a miscarried 14-week-old fetus which exhibits involuntary post-mortem muscle movement is, in fact, "alive" and must be given "medical treatment." Doctors expressed their bewilderment at the pronouncement, but the Mullah in charge of the measure, Dennis Smith, refused to provide exegesis. Obviously, such sacred knowledge must be kept from the heathen – and used as a stick to keep the faithful stirred to a righteous (and politically useful) froth.

But it would be wrong to regard the ruling merely as a dripping slab of red meat tossed to the President's ravening "base." For despite the undoubted odor of sanctity that clings to his person, George W. Bush never does anything that doesn't have a dollar sign on it somewhere – and this case is no exception. In the Post story's very last paragraph (where our journalistic guardians tend to bury any real news they run across), we learn that the "most significant impact" of Bush's abiding concern for "fetal protection" is – what else? – a tax break.

It turns out that in the Days of Ignorance before Bush issued his enlightened bull, a miscarriage that occurred before viability (generally 23 weeks) was classified as a "spontaneous abortion." But now, thanks to George II's divine intervention, it's listed as "a live birth followed by a neonatal death" – and the lucky parents can "claim the child as a tax deduction for that year"!

Well, that will certainly be a comfort, won't it? "Too bad, Mom – but why not use the extra cash for a down payment on an SUV?" Yes, leave it to the Oval Moley to wring blood money out of personal tragedy – and to politicize it as well. That's compassionate conservatism in action.