A Republican Abortion Apocalypse Awaits

How do you unite frustrated segregationists, alienated from the Democratic Party by its civil rights stances, with affluent educated suburbanites into a single, coherent political organization? For decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts, Republicans ground away at that puzzle with very limited success until abortion emerged as their volatile solution.

We’ve reached the beginning of the end for this strategy, and its death-throes will be spectacular. Our attention this week has been turned toward Talibanesque laws passed in Alabama and Georgia to harass women and their healthcare providers, but we may be missing the point. The alchemy that converted a platform of naked exploitation into populist gold is about to fail, leaving Republicans to reap the hatred they’ve sown. When the Supreme Court publishes its opinion overturning Roe, the Republican Party will have about ten minutes to live.

Abortion became the signature issue for the Republican Party thanks to one special factor that made it irresistibly attractive – there was nothing they could actually do about it. Imagine being able to win votes with promises that would always fail, with no consequences. Roe made abortion a magic issue, a gift that never stops giving. No promise you made to raving abortion fetishists, no matter how loony or insane, could ever matter. Those who opposed abortion wouldn’t punish you for failure, and sensible suburban voters felt free to dismiss a candidate’s abortion pandering as meaningless. Religious nuts felt heard while influential white voters still felt safe. Cakes could be simultaneously had and eaten. The Supreme Court’s sweeping overreach in Roe turned abortion-baiting into electoral gold.

Roe was crucial to rise of abortion rhetoric as a force in Republican politics, not because the case galvanized abortion opposition – it didn’t – public opinion on abortion has barely budged in the past 50 years. What Roe did to change our politics was to anesthetize abortion rights advocacy and reward extreme anti-choice posturing. Republicans in the 70’s and 80’s were mostly pro-choice, the position that makes the most sense for a generally individualistic, business-oriented political organization. America’s most liberal abortion law pre-Roe was signed by California Governor Ronald Reagan. Barry Goldwater’s wife was a founding member of Arizona’s Planned Parenthood. The Bush family has deep ties to Planned Parenthood, continuing to the present day.

We have forgotten that evangelicals were ambivalent about abortion before it became a Republican political ploy. The Southern Baptist Church endorsed abortion rights in 1971. The Baptist Press ran an editorial welcomed Roe, a position consistent across most evangelical opinion. A survey in 1973 found that 90% of Baptist congregants in Texas thought their state’s abortion laws should be liberalized. One of the attorneys for Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” in Roe v Wade, was a Southern Baptist named Linda Coffee. After Roe, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed its support for abortion rights in 1974. It would take almost a decade for evangelicals to embrace anti-abortion positions, and even longer for them to take those positions seriously. Abortion may be many things, but for Protestants it has never been a religious issue of any significance.

So why did abortion become a consuming controversy in the US while in other countries it remains a barely noticeable issue? Abortion became a political priority only when white Southerners recognized its value as a shield for their white nationalist interests.

Catholic political activist Paul Weyrich and evangelical TV Preacher Jerry Falwell were brought together in the late 70’s by their shared interest in segregated private schools. The Carter Administration had launched a crackdown on the tax-exempt status of whites-only private schools set up to evade school desegregation. Falwell’s “Lynchburg Christian Academy” which evolved into his lucrative Liberty University franchise, was founded as an explicitly whites-only institution. Though nominally integrated a few years later, its financial viability was threatened by the IRS’s campaign to force genuine desegregation.

Turns out, it’s tough to mobilize mass political support for an openly racist campaign. Racism in America has always thrived on deniability. Weyrich and Falwell needed a broader template of issues to cover the real priorities of their Moral Majority. Abortion would take its place along with pornography and school prayer as the front issues for the Moral Majority and for much of the Christian Right. After helping to get Ronald Reagan elected President in 1980, the Moral Majority got their payback in January of 1982 as the Administration abandoned the IRS campaign against segregation academies. As for abortion, porn, school prayer and the rest of the Christian Right platform, the Reagan Administration largely ignored them, since they were politically irrelevant.

Once abortion had been successfully leveraged as a shield to mobilize “race-neutral” support for segregationist priorities, the genie was out of the bottle. Southern preachers now had a lever they could use to mobilize alienated segregationists into a new political force. Abortion rhetoric as a front for white nationalist politics would let Southern pastors lead a mass party-switch in the South.

Pro-choice Republicans had little incentive to fight over the issue. With Roe in place as a backstop against abortion activists, what was the point in fighting over it? Meanwhile, racist Southern Democrats would use abortion has their magic bridge into the Party of Lincoln. Figures like Texas GOP Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison might retain their private pro-choice stance, but they learned to do so very quietly. Defending abortion was a waste of political capital when Roe made that effort redundant and abortion-pandering offered almost unlimited, unaccountable power.

Turns out, abortion voters would tolerate almost unlimited political corruption and abuse as long as politicians retained their rhetorical opposition to abortion and protected white nationalist priorities. Abortion opposition is a get out of jail free card, proof that a politician corrupt in every other way will at least put the interests of white men before all else.

Under the long influence of this corrosive con, all conscience has gradually been stripped from the party. Today, America’s “Pro-Life” party is governed by a low-rent mobster and reality TV star, who used campaign donations to pay off his hookers. Republicans have kidnapped thousands of migrant children from their parents and placed them concentration camps, while borrowing more than a trillion dollars to fund tax cuts for its wealthy donors. The Party of Lincoln is fighting tooth and nail to protect monuments erected to Confederate traitors while gulping down cash donations from Russian and Saudi autocrats as fast as they can swallow them. Republicans are building their own guillotine.

Even if Roe stands, the party is over for Republicans. Anti-abortion extremists have become so calloused and repugnant that pandering to them now has political consequences. More importantly, abortion advocates are finding their voice. For decades the security of abortion rights allowed women to keep private matters private. No one knew how many of the women in their lives had needed an abortion. Abortion opponents had the public space almost entirely to themselves for half a century. Despite that long advantage, today fewer than 20% of voters support the GOP’s position on abortion. There is no state in the union, not even Alabama, in which the abortion policies being pursued by Republicans enjoy majority support. As a pro-abortion majority mobilizes politically for the first time that political disadvantage can only grow.

An even more stark reckoning looms. The moment the Roe Shield is down, the remnant of Republicans’ suburban power base will revolt. Abortion posturing was ignored by suburban voters as the price of their tax cuts, as long as they knew that they’d be personally protected from the power of religious authoritarians. Stripped of the safety provided by Roe, suburban voters will turn on their Talibaptist Mullahs in about 15 seconds. Abortion gave Republicans just enough influence among gullible country bigots to “win” two Presidential elections that they’d lost in the popular vote. It was a narrow, brittle gambit that they over-played to ludicrous extremes. When the game is up, they better leave town fast.

Overturning Roe v Wade would be an extinction event for Republicans. Figures like Kavanaugh and Gorsuch probably understand the strategic importance of Roe enough to pull back from the brink. But then again, long years in power tend to dull the senses. They might just be stupid enough to press that self-destruct button. Republicans built an odious political machine by using abortion to pander to racists, a machine more deeply-hated every day by those chafing under its abuses. Republicans are the about to be the dog that caught the car.

62 Comments

    1. Koctya, Matt Shea the politician quoted in the Guardian is the one I was talking about. Even though Washington is blue, we do have our crazies. They all come from the ultra-conservative areas of the state, mainly east of the Cascades Curtain. Some of them dream of splitting off and forming a separate state, even though without Pugetopoliis, their schools would not be funded as they are now, their infrastructure would be a shambles, they largely consume more in state funds than they contribute and for the most part they depend on federally and state funded infrastructure.

    1. Dins, step out of your fever dreams and think for a moment. A Democratic House has a *lot* of power, but there’s only so much they can do without a friend in the Senate. What, exactly, would you have them do to stop this? I couldn’t help but notice you were for lack of any actual solutions in your condemnation.

      1. Ryan, I am not in Congress, though if I was, the Sergeant at Arms would have dragged the AJ in chains into the hearing, for a start, since that is within their legal right.

        That would be a start. But these crew is too weak to use whatever power they might have…like I said, impotent.

    2. Dins, Ryan, EJ and others,

      Let me add that America also has a long history of not taking any action until the situation becomes so desperate that a true ‘existential crisis’ occurs. That is true of the antebellum period when slavery was allowed to continue and to fester with its many disruptions to national life, despite majority disapproval. Perhaps that was because the South controlled the federal government and most of the reins of power. Finally, they were scared they would lose their power and succeeded, thus prompting the Civil War.

      Similarly, the corporations and the wealthy with their version of capitalism were allowed to control the economy and the government until the Great Depression occurred. During the years from 1930-1933 the government did little to combat the situation, despite massive suffering, massive bank failures, a collapsing economy, etc. Finally FDR was able to stabilize the situation. Likewise during the interwar years the U.S. avoided taking effective action, until Japan attacked the U.S. forcing us into WWII. FDR was then able to lead the nation to victory.

      Similarly, I am fearful that a similar situation will develop at this time. Trump is a perfect vessel to lead us to catastrophe using his willing sycophants in what is presently known as the Republican party. After all the South with its legacy of slavery with its alliance with the closely controlled corporations (read Koch Bros and similar) is the core of today’s Republican party. They are determined to take care of themselves and to hell with the rest of the people. The crisis could come in the form of a climate crisis, an economic collapse (2008 was close, but effective action was taken) or even perhaps a second civil war. Who knows? But that fits in with the tendency of America ignoring things until it’s too late, because people are making money, and they are more concerned about tomorrow than the future.

      I do know that the stage is being set for another perfect storm, i.e. ‘existential crisis’.

  1. This is slightly off-topic but relevant never-the-less. I attempted to post in the Off-Topic forum “Political Polarization” but for some reason had difficulty.

    Below is a link to an analysis published in the NY Times on May 21, regarding the urban-rural divide in the U.S. Aside from the well known causes such as gerrymandering, voter suppression and the bias in the Senate and the Constitution towards the rural areas, it points towards the system of single person representation in the various political districts. It mentions that Britain, Canada and Australia have similar representation systems and have similar urban-rural issues as the U.S. On the other hand much of Continental Europe and other democracies have more proportional representation systems and do not have the serious issues, the U.S. does. This article will make me seriously evaluate other electoral systems. The link is:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/upshot/america-political-divide-urban-rural.html?searchResultPosition=7

  2. “Stripped of the safety provided by Roe, suburban voters will turn on their Talibaptist Mullahs in about 15 seconds.”

    Abortion has been effectively illegal and inaccessible in these states for going on a decade, as bullshit requirements have shrunk facilities to single statewide locations or less. The suburban, white, conservative voter hasn’t turned yet.

    Didn’t you yourself mention that wealthy white people will always get their abortions or was that someone else? As Southern and Midwestern states pass total bans on abortions, it would be more easy to boost legal abortion states’ tourism industry over summers and spring break than vote against their white nationalist leadership.

    It’ll come down to which creates less cognitive dissonance: getting a secret abortion, or admitting you were wrong. I don’t trust people in red states to do the latter, as during the entire course of my life they’ve chosen to double-down on conservativism every time their life has gotten worse. Why would abortion laws change that behavior?

    1. I’m really talking about three states here, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. These are places that have a significant and growing retainer class who expect to be granted exceptions to the draconian rule imposed on the brown folks around them. Prior to 2016, this thin but influential class of white people were voting Republican more or less reflexively, having learned to disregard all the noise emitted by characters from Jesse Helms in the 80’s to Ted Cruz now, focusing instead on the bottom line they see on their paystubs. Whatever rights were being taken away by these clowns didn’t affect them.

      That’s changing, and these people are starting to feel it. I can tell you this, because I’m hearing it from them directly. They’re like newborn babies, just waking up in the world, and wondering what the hell is going on.

      They fully expect that they should be immune to whatever laws are being imposed on everyone else, though few of them are really conscious of this understanding. And they have always assumed that Republican abortion posturing is just sloganeering. Afterall, each new GOP abortion boondoggle gets struck down by the courts. Why should they care?

      This entire, decades-long GOP scam has hinged on an assumption by white doctors and lawyers and businesspeople that the theocratic campaign themes of Republican candidates is just fodder for the rubes. Break that promise, and these folks will indeed rebel. That rebellion has started among the women already. It is spreading.

      1. Rebelling on the principle of “This draconian shit wasn’t supposed to inconvenience ME!!!!” is at least several moral notches below “This draconian shit is flat out wrong”, but these days you take what you can get. The right thing for the wrong/less-than-noble reasons is still better than the wrong thing.

        I hope your intell of rebellion in the GOPe ranks bears fruit.

  3. Politics aside for a moment, this is an important medical issue. Over 55% of American Medical Colleges don’t provide students or interns any exposure to abortion techniques and training….yes, I am talking about the OB-GYN programs. Add that to the fact that any student can opt out of said training while completing an OB-GYN program and we encounter the following challenges:

    The number of hospitals that don’t have any personnel on staff who know how to perform an abortion to save the life of the mother.

    The number of states that in the absence of any training have few medical doctors who know how to manage re-implantation or preserving very difficult pregnancies.

    We have lawyers and accountants in state and federal legislative bodies playing doctor with this issue and not realizing it is so much more complicated than just the “elective abortion” they are keen to eliminate. They are also diminishing the country’s OB-Gyns’ who know how to perform the procedure even in scenarios where they would approve its use and the doctors lose out on the important experiences medical and elective abortions provide in helping to preserve very complicated pregnancies.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/learning-abortion-in-medical-school/395075/

    I would not have agreed with you Chris 5-10 years ago..now I am on board. Let the dog catch the car. The 17 states that have adequate abortion services of all types will be fine. The other 33 will figure it out when their constituents wake up and realize what they have lost.

    https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2019/01/ensuring-access-abortion-state-level-selected-examples-and-lessons

      1. I guess the only question now isn’t a matter of if, but *when* Republicans majorities in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Utah, and f’ing Alabama decide they’ve had enough and go after these prosecutors directly.

        And you know they will.

    1. Koctya, excellent comment. However, even in the states that have adequate abortion services have potential problems. In Washington we have solid legislation protecting a women’s right to abortion. It was initially made legal in 1970. Then it 1991, it was reaffirmed by initiative, which was carefully crafted to preserve the right even if Roe v. Wade was reversed.

      However, in recent years the Providence Medical System has been acquiring hospitals in the rural sections of the state. Being a Catholic system they do not permit abortion. That has led to some problems regarding access. There was considerable discussion regarding that 3-4 years ago. I do not know the current status. But definitely, even though there is very clear protection at the state level, access may be problematical in some of the rural areas of the state.

      Despite the clear protection at the state level, some R legislators from the very conservative rural areas are considering making a push to end abortion. I can say this, the R party is very weak in Washington state now (virtually on life support) and if something like a major state push to curtail abortion was to occur, the R party would become virtually extinct in the state. After all roughly 60-70% of the people live in the urbanized Puget Sound Basin. There is only one CD left that is safe R, the other two R districts are very close to being purple. For you political junkies those are the 5th (Cathy McMorris Rodgers) and the 3rd (Jaimie Herrera-Beutler). Both were close in 2018.

    2. “The other 33 will figure it out when their constituents wake up and realize what they have lost.”

      But that never happens. Every time life in red states get worse, they do the following:

      1) turn around and elect an even crazier, more extreme person,

      2a) blame the coastal liberal elitists for their problems,

      and 2b) get personally offended by self-same elitists for telling them “I told you so.”

  4. Off Topic but possibly interesting
    Iran – what do you think that is all about

    Dr Brin some time ago had an interesting “conspiracy theory” – (not really a “conspiracy as it only needs two people)

    Who would benefit from a US Iran war?

    People talk about Israel – but I just don’t think so

    I think that if/when the USA attacks Iran the Iranians will be forced to ask Putin for help

    The USA sends a flock of cruise missiles and knocks out part of the Iranian military –

    Iran enters into a defence pact with Putin

    The result is that Putin is in control of his new Vassal State that controls one of the most strategically vital piece of land on the planet

    Every dollar that Putin has spent on Trump and his election is repaid a hundred fold

    1. EJ

      I think that’s far too planned and coherent a strategy, considering the clownshoes people who’re doing it. If Putin’s scheme had been to get Trump to make war with Iran, he wouldn’t have been silent about it for the last two years.

      To answer your question as to who would benefit, allow me to suggest John Bolton. He wouldn’t benefit financially, but he isn’t in it for the money. He would get to look like a big dangerous bully instead of a small sad old man, which is literally all he cares about. This is why he’s spent the last two decades urging everyone who would listen that Iran must be invaded. Finally, with Trump distracted by legal investigations, he might get his way.

      1. There’s also the possibility of DonnyDumbass fracturing or outright destroying NATO, which Putin would love.

        Bolton was saber rattling for the Iraq invasion too, and obviously learned nothing from that clusterfuck.

      2. He’s pretty much on track to try this. Blustering forever about how much the US contributes and how little they get in return (except for 9/11 when the US invoked the option calling for all nations to come to America’s aid…which they did).

        Proportionality in global entities like NATO has to be part of the calculus. Yes, all nations should contribute something but according to their means.

        Of course, from trump’s perspective, why not let all these brown people kill themselves off…unless, of course, they are Saudis.

  5. So, we are one step closer to the proof that the U.S. is no longer a functional democracy.

    As predicted, Amit Mehta of the DC District Court stated that Mazars has to turn over Trump’s accounting records. This will be immediately be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has 2 judges of 11 appointed by the tyrant, one by Bush Sr and one by idiot Bush.

    So this ruling will also likely get fast tracked, go against the tyrant, at which point it goes to SCOTUS.

    Now, SCOTUS can immediately rule in favor of the tyrant, which openly states the end of democracy in the U.S. and also signals they will also fast-track the end of Roe v Wade. Or SCOTUS can be more subtle, and delay hearing the Mazars case for as long as possible, keeping the accounting docs sealed while they “deliberate”.

    I expect the subtle approach will win out. These guys are evil, but not all stupid. But inevitably. SCOTUS will protect the tyrant, and the end of democracy in the U.S. will be official.

  6. In his post out today, Doug Muder tackles the abortion debacle. He offers a suggestion that I find fascinating: Pass a constitutional amendment that moves the nomination and approval process into the House which, he points out, is far more representative of America than the Senate.

    I recall Chris’ clever suggestions along a similar line regarding our judiciary: expand the number of SC Justices and create additional courts to handle various legal issues. Creative thinking is needed to restore integrity in our judicial and legislative process, or, a whole new system of government.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one who has thought that moving the confirmation process to the House would be beneficial. However, we also need to eliminate the gerrymandering and voter repression that seriously compromises how representative of America the House is. Likewise another suggestion that has been made is to increase the size of the House to approximately 600 members. That would ensure much more effective representation and I believe that all states would then have two or more representatives. It has been almost a century since the House membership was capped at 435 and the U.S. population has increased dramatically as well as two states being added. Even at 600 the House would still be smaller than the Commons in the British parliament, which has a much smaller population than the U.S.

      In addition to Chris’ suggestions regarding the judiciary, he has also suggested that the power of the Senate be reduced. Moving the confirmation process and increasing the size of the House are two means of accomplishing that. Britain had to constitutionally limit the power of the House of Lords to finally democratize. I think the U.S. is in a similar situation, in that we need to do that as well. The Senate was originally patterned after the House of Lords.

  7. Another element of the abortion discussion that bears discussion is, which women are most often victims? Poor, young, minority.
    If one moves beyond the “sanctity of life” aspect, and the use of this issue as a political election tool, are there other motives? How about ridding the world (or, at least America) of the “undesirables “? Women of color. The uneducated, the leeches on society and their “issue “ who most assuredly perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and poverty? Sort of an ethnic, social and gender cleansing as it were, all behind the shield of the abortion cause.

    Then there is the very real and I think significant goal of making it extremely clear that women are not ever going to be allowed to participate on an equal basis with men.
    There is no more deeply personal right is there for a woman than to determine her own sexual choices and all that this implies.

    Consider: Women are still fighting to gain enough state support to pass the ERA amendment. Think about that and what that means. Are we supposed to be grateful that we have been “given” the right to vote and become educated- even though women still earn $.80 for every dollar a man earns for the same work?

    Abortion at its core is about control, and women have figured this out. The question is, is it too late?

    1. Are you sure you didn’t mean “ you can’t get more ‘juvenile ‘ than ‘playing’ war, war that trump so blissfully ducked when he was called, war whose consequences will never be felt by men in his class? War that can tear apart world order? Because this is all a game for him?

  8. Some more GOP intellectual dishonesty from Kathleen Parker:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/abortion-extremism-in-new-york-and-virginia-paved-the-way-for-alabama-and-georgias-laws/2019/05/17/ffad643a-78f0-11e9-bd25-c989555e7766_story.html?utm_term=.398fad04d8ad

    What’s telling is that she makes a reference to Mark Childress’ book “Crazy in Alabama”, and Mr. Childress himself shows up in the comment section to chide her (politely).

      1. Northam totally flubbed that interview, and there are RWNJs looking to twist your words even if you give them cogent and unambiguous statements of your positions on complicated and divisive issues. No one should make things easy on them. Make those mental gymnastics BURN!

  9. Chris, I think your entire premise is flawed.

    You are basing your prognostication on there being a political backlash that would be monumental indeed……if it was taking place in a functioning democracy.

    Precisely, what makes you think there will be a functioning democracy by 2020, or whenever SCOTUS inevitably rules on Roe v Wade? Actually, given how the tyrant has proven that Congress is impotent, what makes you think there is a functioning democracy now? Alabama, among many states, has proven that democracy is dead in many parts of the U.S. And I am not talking just about the abortion issue. What makes you think that democracy continues to function with the Senate, DOJ, and the courts behind the tyrant?

    I will steal a line from Game of Thrones that has been bandied about quite a bit recently: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention..”

  10. This narrative of the development of the ‘pro-life’ positions seems to be largely correct from the historical perspective as I recall. Connecting the positions of the evangelical movement to the white-male supremacists and the racists particularly in the South to obtain power for the Republican Party is an interesting take and is all too typical of the shenanigans that the white-male southern power brokers have applied.

    All this connects to the attitudes that some have of wanting to repeal the 20th Century in its entirety, to return to a period when white men were dominant, and there was no threat to their perceived ‘masculinity’ from women or minorities. However, as I’ve written before my attitude is that men who appreciate women and their families and treat them with respect and as equals are actually real men. Maybe it comes from the attitude spawned by ‘Real Men Eat Quiche’.

    Regardless, I do know that the areas of the nation that embrace the 21st Century, with equality for all and acceptance of POC and women as equal members of society are the areas that are the most prosperous and are generating the overwhelming percentage of the nation’s GDP and are growing the most rapidly. I further believe that the overwhelming percentage of the population of the U.S. is largely fed up with the shenanigans of the Republican Party in its efforts to suppress votes and ensure that only the right people in the right districts vote. That those areas are largely rural and wish to go back to the 19th Century is no accident.

  11. I’ll just say that in my career I’ve had a lot of opportunity to learn a few things about developmental and reproductive biology. One thing not mentioned in Chris’ essay is just how unashamedly pig-ignorant so many of these legislators are on this subject, but that doesn’t stop them from attempting to write horrid laws. Some of the more egregious recent examples:

    Alabama state Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R)
    “I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know the proper medical terminology and timelines, but from what I’ve read, what I’ve been told, there’s some period of time before you can know a woman is pregnant. . . . It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that………She has to do something to know whether she’s pregnant or not. It takes time for all the chromosomes to come together.”

    So basically he’s OK with a women having an abortion as long as she does not know she’s pregnant.

    But when asked about left over embryos from IVF, he says no one goes to jail for throwing them out because “it’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”

    Missouri state Rep Barry Hovis (R)

    “Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met. That was one or two times out of a hundred. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible.”

    He was called on for the obvious oxymoron (“consensual rape”) by Rep. Raychel Proudie (D), but the implication that it’s not really rape if the victim knows the attackers is what’s truly horrifying. Some bonus horror, this guy is in law enforcement and he worked rape cases. He can claim that he took victims’ statements seriously, but that little slip of the tongue says otherwise.

    Lastly we have Ohio state Rep. John Becker (R), who seems to be getting Star Trek confused with real life. This guy actually wrote into his bill that insurance could cover “A procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.”

    I’m reminded of this MLK quote: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” One quibble, many of the pro-life zealots have belligerent ignorance and malicious stupidity, in great abundance. That’s even worse.

  12. Rob

    Perhaps it would have been better if they had not used abortion as a proxy for racism as Trump has shown you can win elections and even the whole country going full racist. The country and the culture war could scarcely be worse.

    1. EJ

      A political euphemism is often like an umbrella: ideally you use it until you don’t need it any more, and then you put it away. However, a lot of the time people get attached to the umbrella and forget that it was only ever temporary.

      I’m going to partially disagree with Chris here, though. While it’s a matter of historical record that the anti-abortion movement began as a White supremacist thing, I believe that nowadays it’s much more about misogyny than race. The idea of a woman being able to control her own body and express her own sexuality is deeply frightening to a lot of people on the Right, both men and women; men because if she’s able to choose freely then she might not choose them, and women because of that nasty part of human nature that makes us want to ensure that if we must suffer, so must others.

      Interestingly, within the last week there’s been some indication that the anglophone online far-Right has begun to turn hard against abortion. Some of this may be the result of successful propaganda, some of it may be due to the horrifying misogyny which underlies a lot of the online far-Right, some of it is simple delight in cruelty, and some of it is doubtless just them deciding that whatever their opponents believe, they believe the opposite. Let’s see where this one goes.

      1. What feeds that particular misogyny? From the piece that got me fired from Forbes:

        “For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.”

        There’s nothing uniquely American about a hostility toward women. But our misogyny has some unique expressions. After all, why is it so intense in the former slave states?

      2. EJ

        It is my opinion that misogyny is fed by a culture which reifies masculinity; that is, a culture which requires men to earn or quality for manliness rather than it being assumed as implicit. This is a common aspect of patriarchal cultures, especially those who fetishise warriorhood. (I’m using the word fetish here in its power sense rather than its BDSM sense.) You know far more about the southern states of the US than I do, but I’m told that marketing that plays on male insecurity does extremely well there.

        This isn’t just an American thing, of course; we also have insecure men and screaming Call of Duty playing boys over here. I think the difference is that firstly, traditional German masculinity also prizes obedience and social cohesion highly, and thus would look down on the archetype of the lone gunslinger. Secondly, the shadow of Auschwitz still looms, making principled nonviolent activism admirable to us.

        Also, I didn’t know you got fired from Forbes. My condolences. They lost one of the shrewdest voices of a generation.

  13. I’m with you on your assessment of how we got to this point. What’s your take on the odds of overturning vs upholding Roe? My guess is that whatever Gorsuch and Kavanaugh do won’t matter, because Roberts sees what’s happening and is trying to keep the whole thing from collapsing. That’s why he upheld the ACA and why I think he’ll uphold Roe. I suppose timing is really going to matter on this. Will SCOTUS rule on this before or after November 2020? If they rule before and if they over turn, then I think your predictions will be proven true? What if they uphold though? Will those suburbanites really wake up? And what if a decision doesn’t come until after 2020?

    1. Exactly. I believe the final strategy is to delay ruling on this issue until after the 2020 election. Then, ostensibly with trump returned for another four years (or more depending upon “his “ desire to stay or go, there won’t be much left to save.

      Unmentioned but important to any discussion about anti-abortion (I refuse to call these people “pro-life”), is the campaign to end social welfare programs that assist women and children caught in these difficult situations. Subjugation of women who have demonstrated fierce GOTV effectiveness, is far sweeter than just winning the life argument. It’s never been a “life” argument for republicans; it’s always been a political tool.

      What gauls me is watching some women in leadership sign on to this blatant anti-woman cause. The concurrent legislative push by republicans in state legislatures to restrict women’s access to contraceptives through insurance exclusion is going to be interesting to watch unfold.

      1. The thing is, if Roberts decides to punt on Roe, the evangelicals who make up the GOP’s base are going to start asking what it is they have to do to get Roe overturned. I don’t think the Republican party leadership is going to like any of their answers.

    2. I strongly suspect that neither Kavanaugh, Gorsuch nor Roberts will undermine Roe. Over the years, Republicans seem to have only succeeded so far in placing three “true believers” on the Court, Scalia, Thomas and Alito. The rest of the Republican appointments have either turned out to be reasoned, sensible jurists like Kennedy and O’Connor, or just partisan hacks like Roberts, committed to protecting Republican financial interests. That commitment requires keeping Roe in place.

      Their highest legal achievement was Citizens’ United. Roe is just window-dressing.

      Isolated from consequences and drunk on power, would they go rogue and tear down the abortion shield? Maybe, but it’s a terrible idea and they don’t seem like crusaders.

      1. “Maybe “(Republicans might tear down the abortion shield)….because the right has truly painted itself into a corner.

        They need more cover to continue to pursue other goals, such as the final destruction of Planned Parenthood – the right’s torch for the horrors of abortion.

        Given the deliberate, steady packing of our courts at every level, why not kill abortion by a thousand cuts instead of in one fell swoop? This is smarter as it continues to serve its main purpose for the GOP – a political lever that keeps on giving.

        https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Texas-House-passes-bill-blocking-abortion-13855642.php

      2. “I strongly suspect that neither Kavanaugh, Gorsuch nor Roberts will undermine Roe. Over the years, Republicans seem to have only succeeded so far in placing three “true believers” on the Court, Scalia, Thomas and Alito. The rest of the Republican appointments have either turned out to be reasoned, sensible jurists like Kennedy and O’Connor, or just partisan hacks like Roberts”

        Those first three sentences are just begging me to ask whether you believe Gorsuch and “I like beer” will turn out to be reasoned, sensible jurists or partisan hacks. Given the role of the Federalist Society, one assumes the latter. I fear that at least one will turn out to be a true believer.

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