Abortion and the minimum wage law are not usually linked together. Their juxtaposition puts one in mind of oil and water, or fish and bicycles.
Yet, surprisingly, these two have something in common. No, they have an intimate relationship.
Most recently, Louisiana’s newly elected Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill requiring doctors who perform abortions to be associated with a local hospital. He is not the first southern politician to mandate this relationship, nor is he likely to be the last one to do so. The Supreme Court is now wrestling with a case, June Medical Services v. Gee, to determine the constitutional standing of this legislative initiative.
Superficially, this is a pro-abortion initiative. After all, a physician with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is in a better position to serve patients than one who lacks this connection. If something goes wrong, he will have more almost immediate assistance.
However, as everyone full well knows, the very opposite is the case. The intent behind these enactments is to reduce the number of abortions, not to improve their safety. And this is in the overwhelming number of cases is precisely their result.
How does that work? The more stringent the requirement, the smaller the available pool of doctors will qualify. Add on the prerequisite that they have a minimum of 30 years experience, or have graduated from a “Cadillac” medical schools, and the supply of abortionists falls even further.
Surface appearances can be deceiving.
A similar analysis applies to the minimum wage law. At the outset, this, also, appears to be in the aid of the intended beneficiary; only this time not pregnant women seeking an abortion, but rather low wage employees. What could benefit them more than to boost their rates of compensation?
But again, surface appearances can be deceiving. Wages are determined by productivity (discounted marginal revenue product in technical terminology). An increase in the legal minimum wage does not function like a rising floor, dragging productivity in an upward direction as it rises. Instead, it functions in much the same way as more and more severe requirements for doctors: as a barrier over which not the physicians, but the unskilled workers, must jump. Think in terms of the high jump bar in track and field: the higher it is perched, the fewer the number of athletes can sail over it. In similar manner, the more stringent the requirements for the abortion doctor, the fewer will be able to render this service. The higher the minimum wage level, the fewer the number of job applicants will be able to rise above it.
The unsophisticated will continue to believe that the jumped up abortion requirements and the upward spiraling minimum wages actually aid their presumptive beneficiaries. But in neither case is this true.
Everyone and his uncle see through the rising requirements for abortion doctors. Very few can appreciate the fact that the minimum wage law plays an analogous role. Perhaps, now that we have linked them together, appreciation of what the former is doing will help with the understanding that the identical result occurs in the latter case.