October 4, 2011

"As the history of prohibition instructs, the surest way to defeat the right-to-life movement would be to make abortion illegal."

"Not solely because it would give the movement what it wants," says Michael Kazin, "but also because a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances—just as a majority back in the 1920s probably thought it was all right to buy a drink (the polling business did not yet exist)."
A reversal of Roe (much less a “pro-life” amendment) would quickly make heroes and heroines out of health workers who violated the law—much as [the Ken Burns film "Prohibition"], and most histories of the period, glamorize tipsy flappers and gangsters wielding submachine guns. The long history of prohibition unmistakably demonstrates that a divided public will quickly turn hostile when protestors with decent motives elect officials who carry out indecent assaults on individual freedom. In America, a movement of moralists is never so vulnerable as when it succeeds.

85 comments:

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

In America, a movement of moralists is never so vulnerable as when it succeeds.

You're talking about the election of the oh-so-moral Barak Obama and his oh-so-moral media sycophants?

Seven Machos said...

I really don't think people -- even you, Althouse -- have given nearly enough thought to what would happen if Roe is overturned.

Listen up, people. It's your Seven Machos talking, legal expert extraordinaire. If Roe is overturned, Congress gets to make a law. If Congress doesn't, it goes to states and localities.

Now, think about it, using this prohibition nonsense as a prism. If some county in Mississippi chooses to outlaw abortions, or abortions on Sundays, is it really going to make abortionists into heroes? Really?

The law should be what people want the law to be, where they live, unless the Constitution expressly prohibits or mandates something otherwise. There ain't no penumbras. There ain't no emanations.

MadisonMan said...

Congress gets to make a law. If Congress doesn't, it goes to states and localities.

I think that if Congress is given the power to do something, then Congress will do it. It will not cede that power to the states. Congress is full of my way or the highway people.

Seven Machos said...

Madison -- The trouble with that is: what's the law going to be? What will 535 my way or the highway people come up with? Particularly on such a lightning rod issue.

I don't disagree that Congress would step in, but they shouldn't. Let Manhattan have abortions. Let Dothan, Alabama not have them. It will be glorious and free.

Youngblood said...

Is this guy for real?

Drinking and performing abortions (or receiving abortions) are vastly different activities. For example, you don't see guys getting off work to go have a few abortions with college girls.

Of course, flappers, gangsters, and speakeasies were all creatures the Jazz Age, an era that is inherently exotic, exciting, and fun. I don't think that the world of illicit abortions would have the same zing.

I'm not arguing for or against Roe v. Wade here; I'm just agape that Kazin (or anybody) could write such a piece with a straight face.

YoungHegelian said...

Why make an equivalency between the Right to Life movement and Prohibition? Because both have Christian roots? (What reform movement in US history doesn't?( Because both try and rein in deep seated sinful urges?

Kazin seems to want to make the equivalency because he thinks both are Christian and misguided.

A much better equivalency would be between two Progressive Christian movements that had terrible unintended consequences --- Prohibition & Civil Rights.

If you think the Civil Rights movement didn't have unintended consequences, please explain why 80% of black births now occur out of wedlock, and why marriage is all but dead among the black underclass.

Geoff Matthews said...

seven machos for the supreme court.

bagoh20 said...

"would quickly make heroes and heroines out of health workers who violated the law"

I don't think much reflection went into this statement. People love and enjoy drinking. There are various old elaborate cultures around it. You think that's what abortion is? That's a pretty immoral analogy?

And, No, I'm not suggesting banning analogies. Although some can't handle that freedom responsibly.

Seven Machos said...

Fetuses not dyin', we're multiplyin'
Ain't we got fun?
Morning after, a disaster
Still we have fun
There's nothing surer
We've got to try really hard to use pre-sex ontraception
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun?

Ann Althouse said...

@7 Thanks. I've actually blogged about that quite a few times (and written about it in a law review article). Sorry to leave that out of this post.

A lot of people think if Roe were overruled, it would be because the Court found that the unborn child had a constitutional "right to life" that could be violated by private citizens. That's quite wrong.

Seven Machos said...

Then I stand corrected, as you have obviously given the issue tons of thought.

It's so much easier to respond with first principles, because starting with them is so boring.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Seven. The post is all quote, and there are lots of ways to punch holes in it, but it certainly doesn't represent the sum total of what I've thought on the subject.

Here's an old post from a conference I participated in on exactly this subject.

Fred4Pres said...

If a majority support abortion, then it is doubtful anti abortion laws would pass in but a few locals. But to make something illegal you have to have the conviction to jail abortion providers and women getting them, something most people do not have the stomach for.

Seven Machos said...

Only 39 comments in that thread. Sad. Great post, though. A ton there.

Incidentally, my view is that the smart thing for Congress to do would be to provide abortion oversight. If you choose to allow it, you must submit to these regulations, requirements, inspections, etc.

The analogy is, of all things, amusement park rides. Did you know that traveling carnivals are far safer than amusement parks that sit in one place? It's true. The reason is because of interstate commerce. Those traveling carnivals are regulated and inspected by federal and state agencies. Consequently, there is a better chance that problems are discovered before somebody dies on the tilt-a-whirl.

Cedarford said...

Yes and no about abortion being made illegal. Bad on the Federal level, but I think the people want it ripped out of the hands of Fundies, abortion mill profit center owners, and lawyers with the clout to get a set of powerful black robes.

People accept shit on a state level a lot easier than having something Federally imposed on all states, and a whole lot easier than judges making up new sections of the Constitution.

Left to the states, elective 3rd trimester abortions end in 46-48 States. Morning after pills and IUDs beat the religious zealots in all 50 states. 1st trimester abortions legal in 35-40 states with some serious voter fights. Mandated coverage for health insurance to pay for abortions becomes legal in 10-15 states.

Perhaps one day we can have a fix to the Constitution that specifies written intent and strips judges of the power to create new sections from emenations and penumbras. The 1973 ruling was bad judicial over-reach.

David said...

If Roe is overturned, Congress gets to make a law. If Congress doesn't, it goes to states and localities.

Well, no. The states have power to legislate unless Congress preempts them. They do not have to wait to see what Congress does, or fails to do.

Does Congress even have the power to legislate abortion illegal in all 50 states (other than by the usual trick of cutting off funding?)

David said...

Althouse in 2006: "There's a belief that overruling Roe would necessarily return the question to the states, but there's "almost no doubt" that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to pass laws that trump whatever the states might want to do."

Ok, that settles that question for me.

Revenant said...

The reason this argument doesn't work is that "overturning Roe" does not in any sense equate to "abortion becomes illegal throughout the United States".

I support abortion rights, but if I heard about abortion providers getting jailed in Texas my instinct would be to say "what on Earth possessed you to try that in Texas? Move someplace else!"

Fred4Pres said...

I doubt overturning Roe would really change the status quo much. A few states and territories might make abortion illegal. Most states would not. I am sure the pro choice movement would have massive fund raising and would provide transportation to states where it is legal to get an abortion.

I am with Seven Machos, let freedom ring, let democracy rule. The constitution is silent on abortion. It is neither guaranteed or banned. If you want that pass an amendment.

Seven Machos said...

David -- Your argument is correct, insofar as it goes, but pointless. As soon as Congress acts, state laws are nullified.

As long as abortion is interstate commerce, Congress has the power to outlaw abortion in all 50 states (as opposed to, say, 14 of them). I would argue that abortion is not interstate commerce, but I generally stand athwart the Commerce Clause, yelling stop! So don't listen to me.

Fred4Pres said...

Cederford is a good book maker. I suspect his outline of what might happen is not too far from what would happen. Do you have picks for week five of the NFL too?

Fred4Pres said...

It is possible Congress would act and preempt. And I could see that pendulum swing back and forth several times. But given how hard its been to do what Congress has done within Roe, what makes you think it would be that much easier to act without Roe?

jr565 said...

As the history of prohibition instructs, the surest way to defeat those moralizers against grown men screwing little boys would be to make NAMBLA illegal. Oh wait....

So are those trying to restrict NAMBLA the villains, and are NAMBLA the equivalent of abortion doctors standing for the childs right to choose (sex with older men)? Who wants to put their hands up and say they are pro choice on NAMBLA? Any takers?

Seven Machos said...

what makes you think it would be that much easier to act without Roe?

Without Roe, there isn't this albatross of a horrendous court ruling hanging over the issue. (And everybody -- pro, con, whatever -- agrees that Roe is shit).

In the absence of that awful piece of writing, abortion government(s) can treat abortion like any other issue where sets of rights and responsibilities collide. There could be sensible law, and that law would emanate from the people, which would calm the whole thing down.

Think about all the cultural issues we have that piss everybody off. Count how many of them have some important Supreme Court case involved. Notice a trend? The root issue here is that the Supreme Court is an anti-democratic institution. So many of its decisions don't sit well not so much because they are bad decisions but because it's simply distasteful to the American collective psyche to have five out of nine unelected lawyers decide what the law is.

MikeinAppalachia said...

"...but there's "almost no doubt" that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to pass laws that trump whatever the states might want to do."

Well, so much for overturning "HealthCare"?

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bender said...

Yes, because drinking a beer is the same as killing an innocent human life, usually by some form of dismemberment and/or obliteration of the body.

Steve Koch said...

Roe v Wade should be overturned because it is a gross example of judicial activism. If it was overturned, what is the probability that congress could agree on new legislation? What would they agree to?

What is absurd and obscene is that the commerce clause is used to destroy federalism. Seven Machos has the right idea: leave it to the individual states to define their own abortion laws. If NY wants abortion legal and Texas doesn't, so be it.

Any constitutional lawyer who does not think Roe v. Wade should be overturned is a waste of space.

Bender said...

Now I know that when the Republicans abolished and outlawed the right to choose to own slaves, the Democrats put on the white hood and started lynching those uppity blacks in order to restore the badges of slavery upon them, but this exercise of property rights did not make them heroes.

The evildoer can seek to justify his evil and call it a virtue, but it is still evil.

We are in an ocean of blood and broken souls after 50 million lie dead, and still it is not enough for them. But the innocents deserve better. Women deserve better.

Ralph L said...

it's simply distasteful to the American collective psyche
Distasteful? It was a usurpation of power by a group accountable to no one.
We wuz robbed!

Steve Koch said...

Interesting article on the commerce clause:

"Does the ‘Interstate Commerce’ clause authorize congress to force us to buy health insurance?"

http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/15535

The article goes back to the constitution and the Federalist Papers and "The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787" kept by James Madison to understand the original meaning of the commerce clause before it was polluted by unconstitutional lawyers and judicial activists.

This article states that "the purposes of the “interstate commerce” clause are:
(1) to prohibit the States from imposing tolls and tariffs on articles of import and export - goods & commodities - merchandize - as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling; and

(2) to permit the federal government to impose duties on imports and exports, both inland and abroad."

Bender said...

Of course, the idea that either a pregnant woman, or the child in her womb, are in "interstate commerce" so as to be objects of congressional legislation is absurd. So absurd that only people who come up with things like individual mandates in ObamaCare could come up with.

If Congress has any constitutional authority in this area, it is via Section 5 of the 14th Amendment.

That is NOT because the unborn have a "constitutional right" to life -- they don't. The Constitution grants them and grants us NOTHING. Our rights are not given to us by any piece of paper or by any social contract. An unborn human being has the right to life, the inalienable right to life, the same way that any of us have such a right, by virtue of her nature as a human being.

Such an inalienable (i.e. cannot be given away) natural right is a self-evident truth. It is a right that exists with or without the Constitution. The 14th Amendment merely protects such pre-existing rights.

Even so, Congress will not legislate a prohibition. It will leave it up to the states.

That is an imperfect solution. That still leaves countless innocent human beings at risk of legal arbitrary slaughter. But it will protect others, as well as protecting the dignity of women. In those states where it remains legal, prolifers will simply need to pursuade people to abolish the abhorent practice.

But I am firmly convinced that the people who will lead the charge against abortion, the most committed Abolitionists, will be those who today call themselves "pro-choice." As they are converted, they will turn on those who sought to reduce women to sexual objects and sell women the lie that their natural fertility, and the fruits of their wombs, are bad or a disease to be ridden of, that it is an act of "freedom" to be able to "choose" to kill your child.

Bender said...

It should be noted that, unless, for example, someone crosses state lines in order to commit the crime, or it is committed on federal territory, etc., the federal government has no constitutional authority whatsoever to outlaw murder, including that species of the unlawful killing of a human being that is the killing of a human being in utero a/k/a "abortion."

Rather, murder has been recognized for 235 years to be wholly within the police power of the several states.

David R. Graham said...

Abortion, like homosexuality, should be neither legal nor illegal but rather unthinkable. Or, at a minimum, it should be a state legislature decision.

Ironically, for a decade at least the US Army has been driving power and responsibility down the ranks to achieve an agile and adaptive fighting force. This doctrine has succeeded.

At the same time, civilian command structures have been driving power and responsibility up the ranks to achieve uniformity of presentment.

David R. Graham said...

'"There's a belief that overruling Roe would necessarily return the question to the states, but there's "almost no doubt" that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to pass laws that trump whatever the states might want to do."'

And any individual has power to refuse to work or end their life or beat someone or kill someone. Power to do something, anything, is circumscribed by the question of propriety - not merely legality, but rather, propriety.

For example, a person owns the fruits of their labors. However, they may renounce that ownership in part or in whole. Part of the power of ownership is authority to abjure ownership.

Alan said...

Wasn't abortion already illegal all over the place at one time?

rhhardin said...

Abortion is the Republican political suicide issue.

edutcher said...

Since ultrasound was developed, the rate of abortions has plummeted because the feminists' argument that it wasn't a human being was shot to Hell (literally).

Abortion was the States' province before Roe, it would go back to being the States' province after it.

rhhardin said...

Abortion is the Republican political suicide issue.

Yeah, it destroyed that Reagan guy.

Bob Ellison said...

Seven, I applaud your efforts, but they will fail. You can't teach the pro-choice crowd about Roe. But do keep trying, please.

Shanna said...

The long history of prohibition unmistakably demonstrates that a divided public will quickly turn hostile when protestors with decent motives elect officials who carry out indecent assaults on individual freedom.

Do you think Mr. Kazin is aware that dry counties exist all over the place right now? Prohibition was only a problem with it was done to the whole country, when individual counties do it people just drive to another county. It's really not difficult.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

edutcher said Since ultrasound was developed, the rate of abortions has plummeted because the feminists' argument that it wasn't a human being was shot to Hell (literally).

I still believe that, in my lifetime, we will probably see a time when abortion is looked at with the same disbelief as segregation is today. There's only so long that the majority of people can do the mental gymnastics to convince themselves that there's nothing there. People in my generation and the younger generation, who grew up seeing our younger siblings on ultrasounds, who entered our fertile ages with extremely easy, safe, and effective birth control, are just not as willing to perpetuate this myth.

- Lyssa

lyssalovelyredhead said...

edutcher said Since ultrasound was developed, the rate of abortions has plummeted because the feminists' argument that it wasn't a human being was shot to Hell (literally).

I still believe that, in my lifetime, we will probably see a time when abortion is looked at with the same disbelief as segregation is today. There's only so long that the majority of people can do the mental gymnastics to convince themselves that there's nothing there. People in my generation and the younger generation, who grew up seeing our younger siblings on ultrasounds, who entered our fertile ages with extremely easy, safe, and effective birth control, are just not as willing to perpetuate this myth.

- Lyssa

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Agree with Seven that looking at this issue through the prohibition prism is silly.

The right-to-life movement was effectively dealt a death blow by Roe v Wade. Kazin is flailing with his terrible analogy.

Bender demonstrates quite skillfully the mindset of what I believe to be a majority in this country.

Hubris. The commerce clause is the vehicle of big government hubris. That hubris is fueled by those that equate abortion with a life-saving 'procedure', the offending tissue removed is just that, tissue.

So what we have is a difference of opinion. That a procedure is not called murder is separated by time - a matter of months.

Try using that argument with a farmer. This I think is a better prism with which to understand abortion.

Just after a farmer has planted tomato sprigs, take it upon yourself and trample the sprigs.

Proceed to explain that they weren't tomato plants at all, but, undefined and unwanted flora.

Killing innocent (unable to provide defense) life of any kind is wrong. Even in the name of 'choice'. This is the devil's work for sure.

Bob Ellison said...

Don't Tread, I ate a tomato yesterday.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Bob Ellison, and I had an omelette.

Paddy O said...

The prohibition analogy is also a bit silly because in a curious way Prohibition was to Christian morality what Abortion is to the Constitution.

Both are attempts to impose on the text an all or nothing interpretation that really isn't there.

There is nothing in the Bible that says alcohol is forbidden. There are very strong suggestions that drunkenness is wrong, but that's a fair bit different than what prohibition tries to do. We still affirm in a lot of ways the drunkenness is wrong morality. It's quite illegal to drink and drive, being drunk and disorderly is still something that can get you arrested.

For the most part, the extreme prohibitionists were trying to impose a culturally assumed morality upon a broader culture that really just didn't agree. But the culture put on the show of agreeing in order to be able to be included with the cool kids.

dbp said...

I am not buying this whole, if Roe is overturned then Congress will step in and prevent states from banning abortion.

Any supreme court sensible enough to overturn Roe v. Wade would also be sensible enough to toss-out any commerce clause based laws Congress makes too.

Scott M said...

Technology is going to make this whole argument moot at some point. In a "free" society, the genie is already out of the bottle on this one and I don't think it's ever going all the way back in, aka illegal abortion in all cases.

The best the pro-life side can hope for is to have it made illegal, except in rigorously defined situations, outside the first trimester. Is it perfect? Nope, but that's the best they are going to get.

My own take on the whole issue, having been on both sides of actual procedures, is that the pro-choice people, for ill or good will, have the weaker argument.

Cato Renasci said...

Roe is terrible law, but a reasonable enough messy compromise as policy.

For the integrity of the law, I'd like to see Roe overturned, but, then, I'd like to see it treated as a state law matter. Each state would be free to allow, prohibit, or restrict to a greater or lesser degree, abortions.

Undoubtedly, some states would allow almost unrestricted abortion, and others would prohibit most abortions.

Citizens are free to travel among the states to find the regime most amenable to their needs and views. I think this would work as long as no state attempted to penalize someone for going to a state where a particular abortion was permitted to have it done.

lgv said...

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, I see Congress avoiding the issue and letting states do whatever.

No one in the comments has yet challenged the assertion that,"a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances"

I don't believe this is correct, unless the standards for firm have diminished greatly.

I believe Roe v. Wade is incorrect. I'm also pro-choice. Both sides hate me.

lgv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seeing Red said...

No one in the comments has yet challenged the assertion that,"a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances"



It's usually around 60/40 has been for decades,

America's basic view:

I don't like it

I'm not going to tell you no

but I'm not going to pay for it.


Obamacare changes that.

The youth of today don't like it.

Fred4Pres said...

,"a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances"

Ann is probably relying on this poll.

I will challenge it. The poll is flawed in it gives limited options so it skews the results. But from what I have seen and more narrow questions, I suspect the truth is closer to what I outline below:

A firm majority of Americans suppport banning late term abortions (with some very limited exceptions).

A slim majority would put greater restrictions on second trimester abortions and would limit their availability. Not a total ban, but definitely a discouragement of seeking such abortions without good reason.

A majority would probably support first trimester abortions staying the way they are now.

Now these are generalizations. They would vary by regions. But I am pretty sure a majority (while not pushing for a total ban on abortions) are definitely more inclined to support more restrictions. Remember, in progessive Europe, abortion is highly regulated and far less available than here. And not just in Catholic countries.

Scott M said...

Does anyone remember that woman that wrote a book about having 15 abortions in 17 years? The thing that really amazed me about the whole thing was that she was enthusiastically joined on her book-signing tour by her husband and her two kids, Lucky and The Iron Fetus.

JimMuy said...

In the realm of stupid analogies, equating abortion to prohibition is near the top.
I suspect the argument "As the history of prohibition instructs, the surest way to defeat the anti-slavery movement would be to make slavery illegal" could top it though.

But, his callous attitude toward life is well marinated in the Planned Parenthood mindset and business plan: Get girls to have 2 to 5 abortions between the ages of 13 to 18 at $500 each.

Saint Croix said...

I don't disagree that Congress would step in, but they shouldn't. Let Manhattan have abortions. Let Dothan, Alabama not have them. It will be glorious and free.

You’re assuming that babies are like alcohol. That’s a stupid assumption to make. What if pro-lifers are right? What if it actually is an infanticide? Then federalism will not be glorious and free. Instead we will have a divided country. We will have “freedom riders” going from the free states into the slave states, and protesting the doctors that kill innocent babies. We will have modern day John Browns who murder doctors who are killing infants.

The Supreme Court screwed the pooch on this. They “resolved” abortion without regard to the issue of infanticide, without even thinking about it. “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.”

We have laws on the books in regard to when people die. It’s the same law in all 50 states. If a Supreme Court was an institution that was following our law, they might begin by respecting our death statutes. Rather than finding and protecting an unenumerated right to kill babies in disregard of our death statutes.

Nor was it smart to define babies as property, which is what they did. A pregnant woman--otherwise known as a mother--currently is said to own her baby (defined as a legal non-person). She may discard her property at will up until the baby could theoretically survive in an incubator. After that point (to be determined by a doctor) she can have an abortion for her psychological well-being (also to be determined by her doctor).

The upshot is that we have done abortions all the way up until birth.

We are now prosecuting our first abortion doctor for murder. And yet Kermit was doing the exact same kind of abortions that Dr. Carhart does, that Dr. Tiller did (before he was murdered). As citizens read Carhart, as they reflect on the baby-killing that Kermit did, I think more and more people will conclude that the Supreme Court is responsible for infanticide.

So, no, I do not agree that it will be “glorious and free” when Roe v. Wade is overruled, and this issue gets sent to the political branches. I suspect that all hell will break loose. Your mileage may vary.

Scott M said...

You’re assuming that babies are like alcohol. That’s a stupid assumption to make.

Correct. Babies can be caused by alcohol and, later, babies cause you to drink more alcohol, thus causing more babies.

Saint Croix said...

Babies can be caused by alcohol

I think that was one of the main driving forces of Prohibition. You're drunk, you have sex, you have a baby.

And it's also one of the main reasons we have 1.2 million abortions a year, despite cheap and easy birth control.

I don't know what percentage of abortions are due to drunk screwing, but I imagine it's a lot.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I think that if Congress is given the power to do something, then Congress will do it. It will not cede that power to the states. Congress is full of my way or the highway people.

Congress won't do it if brute demagoguery puts its members in fear of their re-elections. Item: entitlements. It's clear that the country can't afford the approaching entitlement tsunami. All the taxes we pay won't be enough to support just it in 30 years.

But Congress is unanimously playing ostrich when it comes to proposing measures to head off that disaster.

KLDAVIS said...

The most ominous part of the Burn's documentary so far (I've only watched the first hour) was how the 'Temperance' leagues used the public school system to indoctrinate children with ideas such as the capability of a single drink to destroy the esophagus and kill the liver. Then, they had only need wait until these children reached voting age to usher in a new era. Are we not in line for exactly the same with the new environmentalism?

Dad29 said...

Last time I checked, quaffing a beer was different from killing babies.

Saint Croix said...

used the public school system to indoctrinate children

The reason that the pro-life movement is an underground movement is that the MSM has refused to cover the abortion industry. So it's the flipside of indoctrination. You are pretending that everything is fine. "Nothing to see here. Nothing bad is happening. No news. All those pro-lifers are crazy. Nothing bad is going on."

Kids are more pro-life than their parents. How is that possible? The internet. The internet is destroying the silence liberals are dictating on abortion.

Kids merely have too google abortion to see what the Times, Washington Post, AP, CBS, NBC, ABC etc. have been censoring for decades.

Why do they censor photographs of babies ripped to pieces? "Too upsetting." But infants scalded by napalm in the Vietnam war are upsetting, too. The media shows those images because it wants to upset people about Vietnam. And it doesn't want to upset anybody about abortion.

Likewise, you will not see photographs of aborted babies in any sex education class taught by a liberal. And of course the whole point of sex education is to avoid abortion. But they can't talk about this, because to talk about abortion is to open the whole can of worms.

Ann Althouse, by the way, is a classic liberal, which means she believes in free speech. She often opens her blog to discussions of abortion. Why? Because she has no desire to dictate her beliefs to the American people. That marks her as quite different from the majority of liberals today. And it's why so many liberals tag her as a "conservative," because she believes in free speech.

PatCA said...

I don't think the author was advocating a ban on abortion; he was presenting a hypothetical.

Interesting from the comments that everyone thought of present day counterparts to the prohibitionist. They're all liberal over there, so they thought "tea party."

I thought, Michelle O., Bloomberg et al. and their food/cigarette/enviro zealotry. The incrementalist approach is the same as the temperance movement.

Bob Ellison said...

St. Croix said: "Ann Althouse, by the way, is a classic liberal..."

That's what makes me read her blog.

wv: tweek (Tea Week? or are you criticizing my prose, wv?)

Strelnikov said...

That worked so well for murder. As soon as it was outlawed, murders became instant heroes. Didn't they?

Thorley Winston said...

"Not solely because it would give the movement what it wants," says Michael Kazin, "but also because a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances

I don’t think that’s correct. Only about a sixth of abortions are performed for therapeutic reasons (e.g. protect the life or health of the mother) or because the person seeking the abortion was a victim of rape or incest. In those cases, I think that there is a pretty clear consensus in favor of allowing abortion in those circumstances.

The other 80 plus percent though are done basically for convenience (e.g. someone decided to have sex but doesn’t want to deal with a pregnancy afterwards). I think that there’s a lot less public support for allowing abortion in those cases.

Of course, if Roe is overturned (as it should be) and the issue returns to the States, there probably will be States that are much more permissive about when abortion is allowed so the libertines will likely be able to move or travel to a place that allows abortion to continue being used birth control.

Thorley Winston said...

In the absence of that awful piece of writing, abortion government(s) can treat abortion like any other issue where sets of rights and responsibilities collide.

Exactly, one reason I’ve never bought the argument that Roe is a logical extension of Griswold (the birth control case) is that unlike abortion, buying birth control doesn’t involve any conflict of rights and responsibilities. With abortion, you have the rights of the mother, the rights of the father and the rights (at some point) of the unborn child some of which compete with each other. It’s too complicated of a situation to be handled with a blunt instrument like a Supreme Court decree that constitution requires that one of these trumps the rights of others . . at some point . . under certain conditions . . . which are subject to change.

n.n said...

Their analogy is false. The correct comparison is between slavery and abortion. The issue of abortion is principally a question of human morality as was slavery (i.e., involuntary exploitation combined with restricted liberty).

Absent a natural or artificial intervention, following conception, the embryo will develop into a fully formed human life, capable of independent existence from its mother.

Abortion, or rather, assignment of dignity to human life, remains the moral imperative, which society has yet to consider.

For the goals of enlightenment to be realized, individuals must practice self-moderating behavior guided by moral knowledge. In a society which recognizes individual liberty as a fundamental right, totalitarian policies should be reserved for individuals who choose to fail. To this end, society must promote personal responsibility and accountability. Individuals should respect their dignity, but they must also respect the dignity of others.

Mitch H. said...

People who would make heroes of abortionists have never met one. I have, he was a screaming, monstrous train-wreck of a man. I was much more pro-choice before that encounter. I live in Pennsylvania, I was not at all startled by the big scandal in Philly about another abortionist who turned out to make our local ogre look like St. Augustine in comparison.

KitaIkki said...

"Gun control" is much closer to Prohibition than abortion-ban is. We are already in the post-prohibition phase with regard to gun-ban.

Saint Croix said...

People who would make heroes of abortionists have never met one. I have, he was a screaming, monstrous train-wreck of a man. I was much more pro-choice before that encounter.

I actually met an abortionist who was quite nice.

I think most people who support abortion rights are nice, good, friendly people.

I also think most slaveowners were nice, good, friendly people. They gave money to charity, they celebrated Christmas, they always smiled at you and said nice things.

It's just in this one little area that they were monsters.

That's why we don't understand Jefferson, Madison, Washington all owning slaves. They were nice people. The founders of our society. Heroes.

And yet owning a slave is like being a Nazi.

So that's how really bad things happen. Nice people do them. And they don't recognize the evil because the entire society doesn't see it.

PatCA said...

The big analogy to me was the incrementalism. First they passed the Con amendment, implying that beer and wine would still be legal. Hmm, banning hard liquor, that would be a good thing!

Then they passed the Volstead ACt, which outlawed everything.

First we ban cigarettes in public places, then virtually anywhere. Then the FDA embarks on a 10-year program to "change the palate" of America and MIchelle O strongarms food companies to produce food that nobody likes but in her view is healthy. We criminalize people who are "drunk" on 2 drinks.

What's the end game here, and do we want to wait for it?

Saint Croix said...

Only about a sixth of abortions are performed for therapeutic reasons (e.g. protect the life or health of the mother) or because the person seeking the abortion was a victim of rape or incest. In those cases, I think that there is a pretty clear consensus in favor of allowing abortion in those circumstances.

No, that's too simplistic.

Jane Roe claimed she had been raped. And she asked for a constitutional right to have an abortion.

Jane Roe was also lying.

If you only allow abortions for rape, women will claim they are raped. You're inducing them to make a false rape claim.

Or consider a "health" exception.

Ronald Reagan signed a law making abortions legal when the woman's "health" was in danger. He thought it would be a limited event to protect women in danger. And tens of thousands of women had abortions in California. All you had to do was get a note from your doctor. "Health" abortions are like medical marijuana. If that's your regulation, you're not regulating abortion at all.

What the Supreme Court should have done in Roe v. Wade is this.

And what they should do now, is something like this.

Bender said...

Jane Roe claimed she had been raped. And she asked for a constitutional right to have an abortion.
Jane Roe was also lying.

____________

Jane Roe, real name Norma McCorvey, was manipulated, exploited, and used by the pro-abortionists, who were and are quite happy to lie, distort, and twist facts.

Like many women who were used, abused, and lied to, she too is now pro-life and active in the pro-life movement.

Saint Croix said...

she too is now pro-life and active in the pro-life movement.

What is really bizarre about Roe v. Wade is that her daughter was about two, I think, when the case finally reached the Supreme Court.

That must have been an out of this world experience. Put yourself in her shoes. She's given birth. She's raising her daughter. She's a young mom who loves her baby. And now she's reading the Supreme Court opinion as nine men say that she has a right to abort her daughter.

And it's not theoretical for her. Roe v. Wade involves her child, specifically.

Weird. Really, really weird.

In fact the whole first section of Roe v. Wade is Blackmun's explanation on why it's okay for the Supreme Court to hear a case that is no longer an issue for the woman involved. To put it mildly, she doesn't want to abort her baby any more.

The Supreme Court is forbidden from issuing "advisory opinions." They only have authority to interpret the Constitution when it comes up in an actual case or controversy.

So here the Supreme Court is claiming that they are resolving whether Jane Roe can abort her 2-year-old daughter, if she traveled in a time machine back to when she was pregnant.

And of course the requirement that the Court only resolves actual "cases or controversies" might be there precisely so the unelected bastards don't start dictating rules and creating controversies. Which is, oops, what they did.

anon2 said...

I wonder how public opinion regarding abortion would have evolved had Roe v. Wade never happened. There was quite a bit of momentum building towards acceptance of contraception and abortion in evangelical circles through the 1960's. For example the editors of Christianity Today (the flagship magazine of evangelicalism) published "A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction" in 1968. They concluded that
- The Bible does not expressly prohibit either contraception or abortion
...
- About the necessity and permissibility for [abortion] under certain circumstances we are in accord
...
- Much human suffering can be alleviated by preventing the birth of children where there is a predictable high risk of genetic disease or abnormality

While this was not yet mainstream opinion among evangelicals, attitudes seemed to be trending that way. Bruce Waltke of Dallas Theological Seminary concluded "God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed."

A recent essay discussing this evolution can be found here:
http://www.familyinamerica.org/index.php?doc_id=26&cat_id=9

Bender said...

Well, the pro-abortionists no longer have that problem of a plaintiff already having given birth by the time the case is heard.

Abortionists don't even bother to allow women to bring their own cases anymore. The abortionists do not allow women the dignity of speaking for themselves anymore. Rather, the abortionists bring the case themselves and presume to tell women, as if they are children unable to act on their own, what their rights are.

Bender said...

There was quite a bit of momentum building towards acceptance of contraception and abortion in evangelical circles through the 1960's. . . . Bruce Waltke of Dallas Theological Seminary concluded "God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed."
_________________

Yes, there was quite a bit of make-up-your-own theology in the 1960s and 70s.

As for Bruce Waltke's decree as to what God believes, I am quite confident that God, having Himself been a "fetus" with a Soul in the womb of Mary, would disagree, if Waltke would be so kind as to allow God to disagree with him.

Robert said...

If Althouse believes that the federal Congress would, absent Roe against Wade, enact legislation, on any theory, to return to the status quo ante she is delusional. That is, unless we have less democracy as is being bruited about currently. Actually the idea that the eighteenth amendment was repealed is encouraging that Roe too can be flushed down the sewer of history.

Robert said...

@ Saint Croix, I don't agree that slaveholders were, in toto, the equivalent of Nazis. Some were, true, but there was a millennial history of societal and religious toleration, if not, under certain circumstances, approbation of slavery, i.e the Jesuits of Woodstock College were slave owners, benign ones but nonetheless in the game. There was little historical approval for mass murder on racial grounds, Oliver Cromwell being the exception that proves the rule.

Bob Ellison said...

Robert, the answer is to judge acts, not people. Slavery is wrong; killing babies is wrong; stealing is wrong. The person who does them does wrong; that person is not intrinsically wrong. Thus Thomas Jefferson and his peers did some good things while doing and condoning wrong things.

This distinction (judging acts, not people) is useful in all of life. Alas, most leftists do not know of it.

Robert said...

But Bob, the acts are not fungible. Slavery is not the same as the taking of innocent life. The slave might be freed as history shows many were, the slave might be treated benignly, cf. Cicero, the Woodstock Jesuits. But for the dead there is no amelioration. They are simply and finally dead, without hope and largely without pity from their executioners. Indeed the Nazis saved their pity for themselves. By the way can anyone point me to the Scriptural authority sanctioning abortion. I'd be very interested in knowing how the theologian referenced above came to his conclusions. But please no references to Frances Kissling.

Roux said...

So we are going to equate brewing and illegal beer with abortion.... Really?

Saint Croix said...

Slavery is not the same as the taking of innocent life.

A slave-owning society is defining people as sub-human. You are buying and selling people for profit. And since these human beings are defined as your property, you can dispose of them as you wish. They have no access to the Court system. You can kidnap them, rape them, torture them, and yes, kill them. You can violate small children. You own them, and so legally you can do anything you want with them. Their humanity is not recognized.

It is entirely analogous to the slave labor the Nazis made of the Jews. And while slavery is not directly analogous to the Holocaust itself, it is indisputably evil and malicious. In the United States, of course, slavery was indeed based upon theories of racial superiority, which made it quite similar to the theories of Adolf Hitler.

Nobody knows the exact number of Africans who died because of slavery, because nobody cared enough to count them.

My point here is not to say that Washington, Jefferson, and Madison were monsters. Indeed, for most of us they are heroes. But to see their heroism you have to turn a blind eye to this one small area, where they were quite evil indeed.

The same thing is true in regard to the Supreme Court. They are nice, normal, happy people. But in regard to their abortion jurisprudence--this one small area of their work--they write and think and act as if they are Nazis or slaveowners.

They dehumanize human beings in Roe and they write in graphic detail in the Carhart opinions about killing them.

All citizens should read the Carhart opinions, as they will see the Supreme Court Justices engaged in a clinical discussion of killing that is quite similar to the work of Dr. Mengele.

anon2 said...

Bender,
I'm not defending this trajectory in conservative evangelical thought in the 1960's (though to associate, Waltke, Criswell. and Henry with the freewheeling 60's is kind of funny).

What caught my attention in this context is how this turns's Kazin's thesis on its head. The prohibition on abortion restrictions coming from Roe played an important part galvanizing prolife sentiment. Had Roe not happened, I suspect that we would have seen the continual liberalization of abortion law and it would be much less controversial today among evangelicals.