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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Technocracy Drives Morning After Pill Ruling



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I am reading an interesting book on the history of bioethics called The History and Future of Bioethics, by John H . Evans. He references the growing technocracy in our society in which democracy and republicanism is being supplanted with a rule by experts. He writes:

The first characteristic of technocracy…is a “deep seated animosity toward politics itself” and toward the public ability to make decisions. But it is not just that with technocracy, experts will rule. The second and more important characteristic of technocracy is that expert rule is justified by making policy decisions seem to be only about facts, which are fixed; not values which very from group to group. This is accomplished by removing debates about values in politics and making political decisions solely about selecting the most efficacious means for forwarding taken-for-granted values.

For example, Obamacare is blatantly about furthering the technocracy, as in the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

But I think the (outrageous, in my view) ruling by a judge forcing government to allow the morning after (potentially) abortifacient pill to be sold to girls over the counter like it already is to women, is another example. Note that “doing what is right,” has nothing to do with it, but that the decision is driven by the precise technocratic imperative described by Evans. From the NYT story:

In his ruling, Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York accused the Obama administration of putting politics ahead of science. He concluded that the administration had not made its decisions based on scientific guidelines, and that its refusal to lift restrictions on access to the pill, Plan B One-Step, was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.” He said that when the Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, countermanded a move by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 to make the pill, which helps prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse, universally available, “the secretary’s action was politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.”

But mere efficacy, and even safety, shouldn’t be the be all and end all. Surely morality, ethics, and yes–working through what should be the best policy to further societal well-being–should still matter in a democratic society, particularly regarding the regulation of strong drugs that impact on the lives of children!

Alas, the ruling class–which definitely includes judges, particularly at the federal level–want technocracy. After all, that will put them in complete charge by brushing aside the roiling and messiness associated with freedom, allowing them to impose their “taken-for-granted” values on everyone, which they think would be best for society.

In this case, the taken-for-granted values being furthured are that minors should have sex whenever and as much as they want, that parents should not be able to impose their own sexual morality on their children, and that the job of society is to keep “consequences” of having sex at bay for sexually active children through open access to contraception, abortifacients, and abortion–without notice or consent of parents if that is what the kids want. 

By the way, I think HHS Secretary Sebelius and Obama share these values. Thus, I predict either no appeal or a weak attempt aimed at losing the case. 



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