We saw the overturning of Roe v. Wade coming, but it still is a shock. And I think that’s true whichever side of the abortion issue you are on, or if you are in the “vast disquieted middle.” I don’t know that I’m ready to venture too many thoughts or opinions as yet, but I have appreciated a few that I’ve read and will pass on some excerpts from those.
At “The Liberal Patriot” John Halpin’s piece is titled, “The Political Battle Over Abortion Will Never End.” Halpin notes that some thought that overturning Roe and thus sending it back to the states would mean it would be settled there. He views that this as foolishly optimistic. Here’s Halpin,
“Americans are about to be at each other’s throats nonstop over abortion for the foreseeable future—fueled by a political system that rewards extremism and punishes majoritarian compromises that reflect the will of most people. Rather than create more democratic harmony and reasoned debate over complex moral and political issues, the conservative mandarins on the Court have just unleashed the worst forces of zealotry and ideological arrogance in America.”
He is right that our political system rewards extremism and dis-incentivizes compromise. So going forward the extremes on both sides are likely in the driver’s seat . . . which is bad for America.
At “Common Sense” Bari Weiss counseled deep breathes and avoiding social media at least through the weekend. She also said this, which I appreciated.
“There are those who claim that the time for nonviolence has passed. That desperate times call for desperate measures. That we are in a war and in a war the normal rules of politics must be suspended. These are the same people who turn a blind eye to—or justify—those threatening the lives of Supreme Court justices with whom they disagree. The same people who, in another time, justified violence against abortion providers.
“We could not disagree more strongly with this view.
“We know that it’s chic these days to write off virtues like civility and decency and humility and grace. We believe those things are the only way forward. That the only alternative to violence is persuasion and argument.”
Writing in the New York Times, Ross Douthat, sees the SCOTUS decision as a beginning more than an ending. He makes the point that pro-life movement is seen by its critics as harsh, punitive and patriarchal — in all the worst ways. It will now have to prove that it does care not only about the unborn, but about women at risk, about poor women, and about children after they are born. In other words, will the pro-life movement prove humane or harsh? Here’s Douthat:
“. . . the pro-life movement’s many critics regard it as not merely conservative but as an embodiment of reaction at its worst — punitive and cruel and patriarchal, piling burdens on poor women and doing nothing to relieve them, putting unborn life ahead of the lives and health of women while pretending to hold them equal.
“To win the long-term battle, to persuade the country’s vast disquieted middle, abortion opponents need models that prove this critique wrong. They need to show how abortion restrictions are compatible with the goods that abortion advocates accuse them of compromising — the health of the poorest women, the flourishing of their children, the dignity of motherhood even when it comes unexpectedly or amid great difficulty.”
Given that much of the recent anti-abortion legislation is harsh and punitive, it’s hard to be optimistic about the issues Douthat raises.
I know there is lots and lots of commentary out there. Much of it very heated and very alarmist. The fund raising emails are coming fast and furious. I’ve chosen not to amplify the incendiary, but to pass along some observations that seem to me more considered. We will need such voices in the days ahead.