Roe v. Wade Is History, but the Abortion Debate Reveals Rot at America’s Center
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling overdue by some five decades, striking down Roe v. Wade (1973) and its constitutionally unsubstantiated “right to abortion.” Writing for the 6-3 majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Samuel Alito stated, “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Despite the media’s wailing and gnashing of teeth, and despite Democrats’ impotent roars of rage, the reality is that the Supreme Court decision was not extreme in any way. It did not reflect the most ardent desires of pro-lifers. It did not, for example, declare a right to life applicable to unborn children under the 14th Amendment’s guarantee against the removal of “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” Nor did the decision follow the legally correct advice of Justice Clarence Thomas, who recommended trashing the Supreme Court doctrine of “substantive due process,” a persistently and irritatingly vague rubric that generally acts as a pretext for courts to pursue their favored public policy objectives. The decision did not even suggest that the federal Congress had the power to regulate abortion in place of state laws.
No, the Dobbs ruling returns the status of the question of abortion to the status quo ante prior to Roe. Now states will decide how and when to regulate abortion. Some states, like Texas, will work to bar abortion except in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. Others, like New York, will cheer abortion up until the point of actual birth. No consensus policy is likely to emerge, because there is no consensus on the issue among Americans.
Yet Democrats and the media seem firmly convinced that the re-animation of abortion as a state law issue will somehow translate into 2022 electoral victory. There is little evidence to this effect: State laws generally reflect the opinions of those who live in those states, and the most ardent abortion defenders tend to reside in heavily blue areas where abortion will be freely available. It’s hard to believe that Manhattan residents are going to show up to the polls en masse to vote on Alabama’s abortion policy — and even if they did, it would make no difference in House or Senate elections in Ohio.
There is another problem for Democrats, too. That problem lies in the simple fact that if Americans do vote based on abortion, they don’t do so purely based on preferred abortion policy. They do so based on the attitude of the parties toward abortion generally. And today, the party of abortion extremism is the Democratic Party, which long ago abandoned the logically unsound but emotionally appealing rubric of “safe, legal and rare,” instead substituting the hideously monstrous “shout your abortion.” The Democratic Party moved away from moral condemnation of abortion because Democrats now believe that human happiness is rooted in subjective self-definition, particularly with regard to sexual activity; that biology, particularly pregnancy and childbearing, is an active imposition on such a vision of human happiness; and that abortion is therefore a sacrament to be protected.
Few Americans outside of solid blue areas agree with these bizarre and ugly notions. So, while Democrats suggest that voters will resonate to their abortion messaging, fearful of abortion restrictions that might prohibit them from terminating their pregnancies, they miss a broader point: their vision of human happiness and the measures necessary to achieve it are not in line with that of most Americans. And that means that the culture war that the Left began is now turning against them, as it should.
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