Sunday, March 25, 2007

Couldn't the free market take care of this even better?

I had to read this several times to really believe it. Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick has introduced a bill that would basically authorize the state to pay women to give their babies up for adoption:
Under Patrick's SB 1567, AKA the Texas Baby Purchasing Act of 2007, women would qualify for a $500 payment from the state within 60 days of signing away all parental rights to their newborn children.
The full text is available here.

Lest you wonder if the Sen. Patrick is asking the state to engage in an illegal form of baby brokering, he has covered all the bases. The bill provides: "Section 25.08, Penal Code, does not apply to the grant or acceptance of money under this section."

Penal Code Section 25.08 provides as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if he:
(1) possesses a child younger than 18 years of age or has the custody, conservatorship, or guardianship of a child younger than 18 years of age, whether or not he has actual possession of the child, and he offers to accept, agrees to accept,
or accepts a thing of value for the delivery of the child to another or for the possession of the child by another for purposes of adoption; or
(2) offers to give, agrees to give, or gives a thing of value to another for acquiring or maintaining the possession of a child for the purpose of adoption.
(b) It is an exception to the application of this section that the thing of value is:
(1) a fee or reimbursement paid to a child-placing agency as authorized by law;
(2) a fee paid to an attorney, social worker, mental health professional, or physician for services rendered in the usual course of legal or medical practice or in providing adoption counseling;
(3) a reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred by a person for the benefit of the child; or
(4) a necessary pregnancy-related expense paid by a child-placing agency for the benefit of the child's parent during the pregnancy or after the birth of the child as permitted by the minimum standards for child-placing agencies and Department of Protective and Regulatory Services rules.
(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the actor commits the offense with intent to commit an offense under Section 43.25.
Now I have no idea how much of a shortage there is for adoptable children (although here are some statistics), but there is something downright creepy about this. Leaving aside the issue of abortion as a possible alternative to the baby being, uh, placed through the Adoption Incentive Program, how is this different from selling one's baby into adoption in a way that does violate the above-quote Penal Code section? Well, the answer is because Sen. Patrick (and possibly the Texas Legislature) says so. Here's another question: how does this fit in with Republicans' general preference for privatization? Republicans want to limit spending, downsize the government, and turn as many functions over to the private sector as possible (at least, you say so in your 2004 party platform, pp. 22-23). I mean, really, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? How about we create baby rescue societies? It has worked as a means of relieving the burden on our publicly-funded animal shelters. Those tend to be nonprofit ventures, though, providing no incentives for providing the merchandise to the organization (in this case, dogs, but it could be anything, really).

Of course, you want to make sure an adequate market exists for all the new babies you will be acquiring. One of the most important rules of business is to never acquire inventory you don't know you can move. Maybe it is time to loosen some of those restrictions on who may adopt. Heck, if we get lucky, maybe the state of Texas will be collecting perpetual royalties from its very own Truman Show!

On the other hand, I may be full of shit and SB 1567 may be a terrible idea. Besides, who wants to run the risk that the biggest cutomer might be this guy?

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