03 May 2022

Roe v Wade, 1973-2022? -- updated

Politico claims to have obtained a draft Supreme Court ruling which overturns Roe v Wade.  It's possible that the ruling could change between now and being finalized, or a vote could change (currently the justices are said to support the ruling 5-to-3, with Roberts's position not yet clear).  Or the report could simply be wrong, though that looks unlikely.  However, if the draft is real and winds up being the actual ruling, we shouldn't be surprised.  Since the rise of the Christian Right in the 1970s as a growing political force, American conservatism has increasingly made the use of government power to enforce Christian religious taboos one of its core tenets.  Overturning Roe would enable state governments -- and possibly the federal government, if it came under full Republican control in the future -- to do that in the case of abortion.

A few observations come to mind:

1. If this is the real ruling, then as soon as it takes effect, abortion will become illegal in many red states as existing laws become enforceable or new ones are passed.  Abortion is already severely restricted in many of those states anyway, but the situation will certainly be worse than it is now.

2. Some feminists like to present abortion restrictions as something men impose on women, but in fact, there's almost no difference between men and women in attitudes about abortion rights.  So all those slogans suggesting that men shouldn't have an opinion on the issue are silly.  Even if only women could vote, the trajectory of the abortion debate and legislation in this country would still be pretty much the same as it has been.  Taking away freedom is taking away freedom, regardless of the sex of the people doing it.

3. Enforced anti-abortion laws mean horror stories, which will keep the issue endlessly in the headlines and prevent such laws from being normalized.  In Ireland, the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died in 2012 after being denied an abortion, highlighted the inhumanity of the law and probably contributed to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (which banned abortion) by a two-to-one margin in the referendum of 2018.  The more anti-abortion laws in the US are enforced, the more ugly cases of pregnant 12-year-old rape victims, deaths due to denied abortions (at least one law bans abortion even for ectopic pregnancies, which are non-viable and extremely dangerous), "back-alley" abortions causing terrible injuries, etc, will occur, maintaining an atmosphere of ongoing crisis.

4. Pills obtainable by mail are already overtaking surgery as the most prevalent form of abortion in the US.  Obviously this trend will now escalate.  Republicans will try to ban such pills, but this will be very hard to enforce.  Unjust laws erode respect for law and normalize efforts to circumvent it.

5. There will be political consequences.  Democrats could campaign on the basis that if they keep the House and win an enlarged Senate majority, they will pass federal legislation to protect abortion rights, overriding state-level restrictions.  This would presumably require the filibuster to be abolished, but a 52-48 Senate majority could do that, since the opposition of Manchin and Sinema would no longer block action.  Of course, the Supreme Court might eventually strike down such a federal law, but that would take time, since a challenge to the law would need to work its way up through the court system.  This possibility would raise the issue of passing legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court.  If the Democrats used such measures to protect abortion rights, the Christian Right would go completely apeshit, but they never vote for Democrats anyway.

(Enlarging the Senate majority this year is quite possible, even though it looks like a very bad year for Democrats.  Several Republican seats are vulnerable, and they're beset by infighting between Trumpist and non-Trumpist factions, the risk of dud extremist candidates getting nominated, etc.  It's in the House that a Republican majority currently looks inevitable.  Conceivably a promise of radical action to protect abortion rights could energize enough voters to forestall this.  By the way, there is zero chance of picking up any new Senate seats in 2024 because all the Republican senators up for re-election that year are in solidly red states.)

6. If Democrats don't commit to such radical steps to protect abortion rights if they gain the power to do so, then a lot of their base will be de-motivated and the collapse in November will be even worse than the current polling anticipates.  It's put-up-or-shut-up time.

In the meantime, the theocrats have just scored a major win in their campaign to return women and girls to their Old Testament status as livestock available for involuntary breeding.  What happens next is ultimately up to the voters.


See posts on the leaked draft by Atheist Revolution, SickoRicko, Lo Imprescindible, Progressive Eruptions (comparing laws in different countries), Mock Paper Scissors, Paul Wartenberg, Eclectablog, Voenix Rising, Grun_e_Gene, Ovarit (discussion thread), and Natasha Chart at 4W (must-read on how things got to this point; discussion here).

There's also this post of mine from December, which explains why the attack on abortion rights may not be the electoral game-changer some activists expect (scroll down a bit).

Democratic candidates call on the Senate to abolish the filibuster so it can pass a federal law protecting abortion rights.

Valerie Tarico discusses how to mitigate harm and fight back (found via Silverapplequeen).


Blogger Jack said...

Scary times to be sure. "Since the rise of the Christian Right in the 1970s as a growing political force, American conservatism has increasingly made the use of government power to enforce Christian religious taboos one of its core tenets." I think this part about using government power to enforce Christian taboos is spot-on. They've been far more successful at these efforts than should be the case.

03 May, 2022 04:02  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

First, Roe vs. Wade, then Lawrence vs. Texas and Obergefell vs. Hodges. And then Loving vs. Virginia?
Conservatives seem hellbent on curtailing personal freedoms, especially those related to sex and reproduction. Not surprising. According to conservatives none of them seem to be "deeply rooted in history".


03 May, 2022 04:12  
Blogger Eck! said...

There will be a lot of angry people.

The antis will ban the pills both post conception
and contraception.

Those news horror stories will contain women that
had a miscarriage will be accused of having an
abortion making them a murder poster child.

It will be a grave new world.


03 May, 2022 05:38  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I just finished my usual passive-aggressive post on this subject and will add a link to your essay. It's difficult to wrap my head around the fact that we are headed in this direction.

03 May, 2022 05:51  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Christian Fascism is rapidly expanding its scope and reach. They won't be satisfied with Roe, they won't be satisfied with birth control, with gat marriage, with "miscegenation" they are coming for the Democratic Republic. Injustice Alito majority ruling rolls back everything. But the rightwing beast will feed upon this decision but not be satiated. Rightwing domestic terrorism is in the offing.

03 May, 2022 06:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jack: Ultimately religious fundamentalism cannot accept the legitimacy of secular democracy. This conflict was always doomed to come to a head sooner or later.

Sixpence: This is why I mentioned enlarging the Supreme Court. That wouldn't reverse the overturning of Roe, but it would prevent further steps backward on those other issues.

Eck: Actually enforcing a ban on pills through the mail (or transported in other ways) will be very difficult. They could even be hand-delivered if necessary -- what are the authorities going to do, search every car entering the state for hidden pills? As for the horror stories, the enemy likes to keep the debate on an abstract level. Once there are names and faces of actual people suffering and dying because of these laws, as in the case in Ireland, it's much harder for them to deny the reality of what's happening.

Ricko: Religious fundamentalists have been working toward this since the days of Jerry Falwell. Remember, they're a declining demographic in society as a whole. Political power is the only lever by which they can push things in their preferred direction.

Grung: I'm sure they want to see further roll-backs of rights that violate their taboo system. I don't see them engaging in terrorism, though, as long as they think they're winning anyway.

03 May, 2022 06:17  
Blogger Mike said...

How long will it take to catch a republican congressman flying his daughter to a blue state to get an abortion? Not long is my guess.

03 May, 2022 10:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mike: About as long as it usually takes for a fire-and-brimstone anti-gay preacher to be caught with a male prostitute.

03 May, 2022 20:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean, the easiest way to get elected for Democrats is to offer a more pro-worker economic platform. Start with abrogating permanent normalized trade relations with China and go from there. Stick a finger in the ancaps' eye at every opportunity.

But they won't. And so this will continue.

05 May, 2022 05:15  
Blogger Martha said...

Such scary times. I hope this craziness doesn't makes its way up to Canada. The abortion issue shouldn't even be an issue anymore. It should have been over and done with for good by now.

05 May, 2022 07:30  

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