Why Not Require a 72-Hour Waiting Period for Every Major Life Decision?

Utah, that beautiful, almost square land teeming with natural rock formations and very friendly Mormons, has enacted the country's longest pre-abortion waiting period. Women there must now wait for 72 hours — three days! — before receiving abortion care. Legislators say that the waiting period is in place to give a woman a chance to weigh her decision, since pregnancy termination isn't a choice that should be made lightly. At least one Salt Lake City writer agrees — but he thinks the law doesn't go far enough. His Jonathan Swiftian suggestion? Three day waiting periods on every major life decision.

The architect of the "72 Hour Waiting Period for Everything" idea is Salt Lake City Tribune columnist Robert Kirby, who explained in his Monday column that he's not a big fan of abortion in general. In his words, "The idea of terminating life for the sake of convenience just gives me the creeps." But what gives him an even bigger case of the creeps is the idea of men like him dictating what women should do. "See, I'm not the person who has to wear that kid for nine months and then be personally responsible for it when the weasel half of the parenting equation disappears or won't man up. So." Boom.

Kirby goes on to point out that while he hates big government intruding on people's lives, he thinks people make too many life decisions too rashly. For example, he thinks that since getting drunk can lead to poor decisions ("Let's eat some Taco Bell!") and getting high can lead to its own special brand of stupidity ("Let's roll three Taco Bell tacos into one super tacoburrito!" or, "Let's invent Pizza Scissors!"), people should be legally required to sign a letter of intent and then wait for three days. The 72-hour rule should also apply to church attendance, which Kirby says can cause imposition of belief and intrusion on the lives of others. And finally, couples trying to get pregnant on purpose should state their objectives in writing and keep their pants on for 72 hours of quiet reflection before procreative sex takes place. Maybe doctors could make the decision more difficult by handing them a packet of information about all the possible but not proven side effects of childbirth — fistulas, postpartum depression, maternal death. After all, we have to make sure women are informed of what pregnancy is!

Other suggestions for Robert Kirby's 72-Hour List: tattoos! Oh my god, tattoos! Everyone should think about whether or not they want to get a tattoo for at least three days. And in some states (in Illinois, at least) you have to wait a day between getting a marriage certificate and turning it back in, thus certifying that you're legally wed, and it's way easier to get a divorce than it is to get a tattoo removed. I also humbly request that people wait three days before booking hotels and plane tickets with someone they're only dating. Are you aware that sometimes, people who haven't been going out for that long end up on vacation together and they end up hating each other? This is a major life decision, and the waiting period is for your own good. For Pete's sake, even Jesus Christ needed 72 hours before rising from the dead! The least we can do is honor The Lord by imitating Him in His Infinite Wisdom.

Why aren't there men like Robert Kirby in Washington? His views are refreshingly reasonable, and judging by his byline photo, he's got some facial hair that would really rile up the beltway.

[Salt Lake City Tribune]

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