Monday, July 13, 2009

Proposition X: Restricting Mutant Birth


Controversy is brewing in the Marvel Universe. Specifically, in the new storyline, "Utopia," Simon Trask and his followers of mutaphobes are trying to pass a bill into legislation, known as "Proposition X," which would effectively ban unauthorized mutant breeding. The idea is to prevent further chaos and destruction either by wayward mutants or those not capable of harnessing their powers appropriately. Trask has cleverly tagged the bill under his "people protecting people" slogan, thereby making the implication that you either support the bill or you are somehow a traitor to the human race.

Regarding the morality issue, Prop X does not really surprise me. In the Marvel Universe, mutants have been the subject of scorn, hate crimes, and brutal violence almost since inception. There have been numerous attempts to outlaw certain mutant actions, and as a result, many mutants have had to spend the majority of their lives operating outside the law. All in all, Prop X is not an entirely new phenomenon.

What does surprise, me, however is the economics of restricting mutant birth.

First, there is no real evidence to suggest that the passage of this bill will actually have any effect on mutant breeding. Once again, mutants have operated outside of the law for years. Restricting their ability to go to public hospitals and receive proper obstetrics care hardly seems that it will do much. In fact, has anyone actually ever read a comic book where a human doctor, completely disconnected from the patient, has actually handled the care of a pregnant mutant and delivered a mutant baby? I'm fairly certain that doctors exist within the metahuman community who mutants typically go to for this sort of thing. There's Beast, Jarvis, Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Storm, Nightcrawler, etc. Even Dr. Nemesis, Sinister, and Dark Beast can deliver babies. And these are just the superhumans that are front and center in the comic book world. For all the mutants that exist, I'm sure there exist plenty of individuals with medical training that could set up clinics beneath the radar of the federal government.

Even supposing that Prop X has the effect of significantly diminishing future mutant births (and let's not forget, there has only been one mutant birth anyway since House of M, and afterwards Beast assembled a team of scientists specifically charged with the task of working on mutant births), this would do nearly nothing to reduce existing mutant crime and violence. In fact, it seems odd to me that Trask's plan is to pass legislation that won't see effects until several generations later, likely even after his own time. Restricting mutant births is a long-term endeavor. If anything, we can see that the passage of the bill is having an adverse effect, namely causing more mutant violence in response to the bill's moral implications on the community.

Furthermore, Prop X is costly, especially in the way that it is described in "Utopia." According to Trask, the idea is to "gently and humanely legislate when and how mutants are allowed to breed." This is not as simple as it sounds. It requires technology, databases, and personnel to monitor the mutant population. And we already know that maintaining medical records is expensive, which is why there is such a powerful movement to convert them to electronic records across the country.

Prop X would also require more money to be invested in enforcement of the law, especially if the government is serious about closing all the underground mutant medical clinics. Furthermore, it requires extensive background checks for the mutants who do wish to apply for a government permit to breed. Officials will have to check past criminal records, study the applicant's mutant abilities extensively, and estimate the likely powers that would be transferred to the child. This is not cheap.

It will also be costly in terms of potential labor force that is lost. If Prop X has any significant effect, then future generations will be a great disadvantage having lost all of the potential mutants from contributing towards the economy.

I think it is a bad idea to spend all of these funds on a program that will have dubious effects at best. It is a much better idea to invest this money in education and health care for mutants. Opening more centers like the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning would go a long way towards keeping wayward mutants off crime. Much destruction is caused in the Marvel Universe not by mutants who make a conscious decision to turn evil, but by those who have been incapable of adapting to their powers or new lifestyles. With appropriate guidance, these mutants will learn to control their powers and contribute positively to society.

Of course, this is not what Trask wants. His plan seems to be predicated on sparking mutant violence so that the public will turn against them. Never mind that historically mutants have collaborated the best when society has not ostracized them. But Trask wants them gone. He wants them to be scared of Normal Osborn and the Dark Avengers. And, unfortunately, his plan seems to be working.

21 comments:

Will said...

Mutants are also born from non-mutant parents, so if the goal is to stop future mutant births the very notion of the bill is foolish. The event that sparked the bill was the birth of the mutant in Alaska and the destruction of the town that followed. I am not completely up on the x-book events, but my understanding were that the girls parents were non-mutants. The bill would only be effective if it required every fetus to be genetically examined and then required forced abortions for mutations. That would be very, very expensive and incredibly unpopular. Of course, you do point out the goal isn't actually to prevent future mutant births but spark violence and effecting people's reproductive rights or targetting fetuses does seem to result in violence and a lot of anger in the real world, so it would stand to reason it was a clever move by Trask to spark violence.

Neotoma said...

I'd think they'd be running up against California's shameful history of eugenics laws, myself. That's not a pot anyone in power wants to stir up.

Not to mention you'd get from very strange allies on the anti-propX side, like feminists groups and the Catholic Church (at least if force abortions are in the cards).

Tom said...

I agree that this seems unlikely to be motivated by a payoff that may be more than a decade away, and more likely that it is an end-around to require mutant tagging, tracking, and ultimately, control. If the bill is passed, I assume mandated testing of all citizens will be required, monitoring of all mutant females, and a strict lock-down and testing of any hopsital birth.

This may open up a new gray market for birthing services, not just for mutants (who, as has been pointed out, are mostly living outside the law anyway) but also for any non-mutant citizen who doesn't want their child, mutant or non-, to be subject to this sort of omnipresent surveillance. Midwives, nurses, obstetricians, unlicensed clinics, etc.

Which could, in turn, lead to increased health care costs associated with poor medical care of pregnant women and infants.

The tracking and surveillance will spend taxpayer dollars on police/federal salaries and equipment, and could impact health care costs. Wether the increase would be significant, or would be offset by the bill's potential benefits (no more towns destroyed by baby mutants) is up for debate.

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