Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Anti-abortion laws starting to stack up

Mississippi is the second state, after South Dakota, to pass a law completely outlawing abortion. As in South Dakota, the governor of Mississippi is "probably" going to sign it.

This is it: the natural result of the right-wing cashing in all their chips and insisting on Alito over Miers. For years, Republicans were willing to lie to the anti-abortion folks: an anti-abortion voter was a captive voter, guaranteed to vote Republican no matter what. Reagan shined them on with nothing more than rhetorical support, George W. Bush only gave them one justice (Thomas). Now we've finally reached the crossroads. Roe v. Wade will be overturned this year. In a country where there has been consistent support for politicians only pretending to be against abortion, there will soon be a patchwork of laws, and women will only be able to get abortions in states that primarily voted for Kerry. If you're pro-choice, it's too late: at least, until the next two elections are over.

Look: the national debate on abortion hasn't changed in 30 years. If you ask people about making abortion illegal or illegal, you get this breakdown of answers:
  • 20% of the population is against legal abortion in all circumstances
  • 25% of the population is for legal abortion in all circumstances
  • 55% of the population says "it depends."
Those numbers haven't changed by more than 2-5 points in 30 years. They're not going to change. Here's the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll over that period. (Note that the first three questions were asked many years apart.)

Politicians don't become elected politicians without understanding game theory: they have to know when to compromise and when to stand firm. The logical thing to do, with these stable polling figures regarding abortion, was exactly what Bush, Sr., and Reagan did: they talked a good game, but ultimately, they did nothing more than strip abortion from the poor and underprivileged.

Creating totally illegal abortion equals creating angry, alienated voters: support for abortion draws substantial, if uneasy, majority support. Merely talking about the evils of abortion, as Reagan often did, works great. It made the single-issue, anti-abortion people keen to cast votes, while the pro-choice people ignored the rhetoric. The majority of people who feel that abortion should always or frequently be made available have never cared enough to vote on this as a single issue. I know several pro-choice people who have voted for anti-choice politicians: my mother and mother-in-law have done so.

They just couldn't imagine that we could reach this point. Well, now we're here. Now that Alito has replaced O'Connor, multiple red-state legislatures are going to ban abortion. They are all itching for the confrontation that leads to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and they are going to get what they desire. It is easy for the state legislators to breathe fire. They are well aware of what plays in their little section of hicksville, and there is no risk to them to propose any law.

The risks apply on the national level, where individual Senators will see the other side of letting Alito's transparent double-talk about abortion convince them. I hope the national outrage will lead to a two-house sweep, returning Congress to Democratic control. Then again, I would like to have a pony, too.


Anonymous wrd said...

There will be an underground railroad between abortion and non-abortion states. Only the rich will be able to afford the tickets.

Thursday, 02 March, 2006  

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