Thursday, January 19, 2012

Protecting those who matter

One of the more infamous consequences of the ongoing financial turmoil in America is that state and local governments have been cutting money from programs to save their budgets. In some cases, this has led to reductions in the number of police and firefighters on duty. In others, it's meant forcing people to buy into a program so that their homes can be saved from fire (if they don't pay, their homes are lost). In some cases, laws are changed or thrown out to reduce the amount of time and money spent by law enforcement to enforce those laws.

Awhile ago, there was a case in Topeka Kansas where local officials sought to decriminalize domestic assault. The idea was that such a measure would save money by no longer forcing police to arrest, charge, detain, and process perpetrators of domestic assault. The outcry over this plan was so great that the officials backed off, and left the law alone.

But a law of similar nature was recently passed in New Hampshire by the state congress. The law weakens domestic violence laws and changes the standards under which a person may be arrested and tried for domestic assault.

The most alarming piece of this is that, under the new law, police officers must directly witness a domestic assault in order to make an arrest. That means, if a police officer arrives on the scene and sees a woman bleeding on the ground with bruises all over her, they can't do anything since they didn't witness the assault. Not only is this reprehensible from a moral standpoint, it is doubly upseting that this is the plan used to cut state costs.

Other legislation that passed in New Hampshire Congress this week is a bill that strips Planned Parenthood of any and all public funding, despite the fact that abortions only account for 3% of their services, public money is not allowed to fund abortions anyway, and the other 97% of the services provided by PP help the poor and disadvantaged. So, rather than stopping abortion, they've now simply stopped preventative health care for poor women.

While measures like this will save the state money, one has to wonder what the non-financial costs will be? No doubt there will be more domestic violence that goes unresolved, less support for women to stay healthy, fewer cancer screenings, less access to preventative medicine, and fewer protections for women in the state of New Hampshire. Considering all of that, is it reasonable to say that saving money is a better option? And that these services and laws are the best way to save money?

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