The Bloody Shirt Of American Politics... For How Much Longer Now?
This morning, Rev Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft (@MiddleChurch) wrote that "As we're all asking anew 'what can I/we do' in this moment-- I am clear that speaking as a white Pro-Abortion Baptist Minister-- directly into the racist roots and white Christian's complicity in this decision is something I can do."
Citing Peter Baker today-- "if this is the final ruling, it’s certainly one of the biggest earthquakes in American domestic politics in a generation"-- lifelong conservative Republican Charlie Sykes-- #NeverTrumper-- told his readers to "Prepare to dust off all of the clichés about the dog who catches the car, because that’s exactly what’s happened here. For years the GOP has campaigned against Roe, but without any realistic expectation that it would actually be overturned. Republicans are keenly aware that polls have consistently shown that while opinion on abortion itself is mixed, a strong majority of voters opposes overturning Roe. Just 30% of Americans say they'd like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe vs. Wade decision, with 69% opposed-- a finding that's largely consistent both with other recent polling and with historical trends."
If the Supreme Court rules along the lines of the leaked opinion, abortion will be banned immediately in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, Florida, both Carolinas (including the relatively sane one), Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan and both Dakotas (where there is no sane one). I suspect Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana will soon follow.
Despite the lack of support for overturning Roe, "Leading antiabortion groups and their allies in Congress," wrote Sykes, "have been meeting behind the scenes to plan a national strategy that would kick in if the Supreme Court rolls back abortion rights this summer, including a push for a strict nationwide ban on the procedure if Republicans retake power in Washington.
In a rational political world, legislators would craft compromises that would reflect the various shades of public opinion.
But, as you may have noticed, we do not live in that world.
Compromise is precisely what we don’t do in our era of hair-on-fire culture wars. Compromises do not feed the outrage machines that shape our debates.
And we know that, don’t we? For the last 50 years, we’ve watched the extremes dictate the terms of the right-to-life debate, just as we’ve seen the absolutists shut down rational and nuanced approaches to gun control. Our debates over everything from masking to race have become more shrill and tribal. Litmus tests overwhelm reason, and rage drowns out prudence.
And now we get to do abortion.
At least in part, [David] French understands the potential risk. In his most recent book he sketches out “a scenario where rage at a Roe reversal created irresistible momentum for court-packing, and state resistance to the packed court fractured the nation.”
We’re already hearing noises about making changes to the court, but court-packing is unlikely to gain much traction outside of the MSNBC green room.
So that leaves the legislative battles at the federal and state levels. And make no mistake about it, there will be fights about pretty much everything involving abortion.
If Roe is overturned, cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of unrestrained culture warfare.
There will be bills to ban abortions after 15 weeks, like Mississippi’s law. Some will include exceptions for rape and incest, many will not. Other states will want to limit abortion to the first six weeks. Some might even try to ban it altogether. In blue states, legislators will codify Roe’s protections, but some will push for sweeping expansions, including late-term abortions.
And the schism between red and blue America will become wider and starker. While red states impose criminal penalties, blue states will expand taxpayer funding. American women will be living in two very different countries.
There will be protests, boycotts, and calls for sweeping federal legislation. Unified GOP control of Congress and the presidency will inevitably lead to calls to federalize Mississippi-like restrictions. In this environment, the extremes will define themselves by their hostility to compromises of any sort.
(I imagine it playing out like this: J.D. Vance comes out for a ban after 6 weeks; Josh Mandel calls for a ban after 2 weeks; MTG declares that all true conservatives support a total ban; and Madison Cawthorn insists that the true pro-life position demands the death penalty for doctors who perform the procedure.)
Every legislative and governor’s race now becomes a referendum on abortion.
Every congressional and senate race will be a referendum on abortion.
The 2024 presidential race will be a referendum on abortion.
In a sane world, this debate could actually be healthier than what we have now. But does anyone think that we live in a world that particularly values sanity?
Instead of lowering the temperature, overturning Roe guarantees that abortion will continue to be the bloody shirt of our politics for decades.
Bernie called for the Senate to immediately end the filibuster in order to codify Roe. Every progressive I've heard from agrees. All Schumer would need is every Democrat to vote aye and it's done but, of course, Manchin disagrees. Would the pro-Choice Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins make up for Manchin? I doubt it but, apparently pleading naïveté this morning, Susan Collins, who is working on a bill to codify Roe, said that the decision is "completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office." Asked if she left likewise, this morning Murkowski said "My confidence in the court has been rocked." AOC noted that Murkowski "voted for Amy Coney Barrett when Trump himself proclaimed that he was appointing justices specifically to overturn Roe."
Schumer announced that he will make all senators go on record about their stand on abortion by calling a vote on codification. "Now that the court is poised to strike down Roe, it is my intention for the Senate to hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and real as it gets. We’ll vote to protect a women’s right to choose." Republicans-- as well as Manchin-- will be forced to declare themselves not just on Roe itself, but on rape and incest (which are no big deals in the Old Confederacy but are big deals in the rest of the country, other than the Dakotas and Wyoming.)
Jessica Cisneros's run-off with anti-Choice fanatic Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) is May 24. Cuellar has been co-sponsoring anti-choice legislation with Republicans, and supported Trump-era restrictions on abortion and reproductive healthcare. He was the only Democrat to vote in favor of the Hyde amendment this Congress and most recently was the only Democrat to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act-- even after Texas passed the most extreme ban on abortion in the country. Cuellar has even notably said that abortion is not healthcare.
This morning Jessica reiterated her support of Choice. "Let me be clear: abortion is health care. I believe every single person has a right to the health care they need when they need it, and so do the people of TX-28. The constant attacks on our reproductive freedom have mobilized hundreds of people across South Texas. From the Bans off our Bodies rallies in San Antonio to the on-campus organizing in Laredo and the rapid response efforts of the abortion funds in the Rio Grande Valley, South Texans have made it clear-- we will not go back. While our communities in South Texas have suffered, organized, and fought for each others’ rights, our Congressman was the only Democrat to vote against codifying Roe in Congress, siding with Republicans to strip our constitutional rights away. For years, Henry Cuellar has repeatedly joined Republicans in voting in favor of the Hyde Amendment, voting to defund Planned Parenthood, and voting for numerous federal bans on abortion. While South Texas families are outraged today, Henry Cuellar is probably celebrating his role in eroding our fundamental freedoms. This race goes beyond South Texas. We know our majority in Congress is at stake and Henry Cuellar could very much be the deciding vote on the future of our reproductive rights in this country. We can’t risk that. South Texans deserve a champion for their rights and freedom and on May 24 we will defeat the last anti-choice Democrat once and for all."
May I suggest you consider making a contribution to Jessica and to the other pro-Choice progressive women running for Congress this cycle. Blue America has an ActBlue page for that specifically. You can get to it by clicking on this link or by clicking on that intrepid protector of women's right's, Nancy Pelosi-- or on that stack of money she's handing to Congressman Cuellar.