Abortion Rights and Self-Determination: The Great Progressive Fear
Someone has leaked a draft of a U. S. Supreme Court decision, written by Samuel Alito, indicating that the court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, the notorious 1973 case that was decided in favor of making abortion a federally guaranteed right. Contrary to the political hay being made of this by the left in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, the striking down of that federal law, should it come to pass in practice, would not make all (or any) abortion illegal. It would simply return the legal question of abortion to the state level, where it was understood to belong prior to Roe v. Wade. Of course, Democrats are in favor of federalizing all their preferred outcomes, because they are (except when it becomes inconvenient for their own agenda) a party of centralized, i.e., universalized, power, rather than of individual self-determination; nothing rankles a Democrat more than the thought that citizens who disagree with their notions of progressive government expanse might simply exempt themselves by local preference. But I believe that the deepest reason for the end-times outcry against the overturning of the federal abortion law lies hidden just beneath the surface of that more obvious ideological reason.
Curious, for some morbid reason, to see how drifting neo-conservative Bill Kristol would approach this issue, since his latest position, supposedly a reaction against Trump, is an embrace of the Democrats, I checked his Twitter comments on the matter, where he notes that, “We are entering a period in which the state you live in will determine more fundamental aspects of your rights…Which, in turn, seems likely to hasten our geographical self-sorting.” In other words, decisions such as returning abortion to the state level will, he predicts, cause an increased bifurcation of America into majority “red” and “blue” states, as citizens migrate to states that define their “rights” in the ways they prefer. Given the current climate of tribalism in America, and the extreme moral divide between left and right today on so many issues, Kristol’s prediction is plausible.
But what interested me was this reply to Kristol’s comment, from another Twitterer: “Think about the companies and where they will be located. What woman would want to live in a red state and have absolutely no rights over her body?” (Emphasis added.)
In my mind, I immediately replied to that question, “A little over fifty percent of women, presumably.” And therein lies the real problem, regarding abortion and a host of other items in the Democratic Party agenda — the great perturbation roiling in the hearts of all leftists. If people are left to make their own decisions, either privately or through electoral representation within their own political jurisdictions, they might choose against the leftist “rights” that progressives try so hard to persuade themselves (and you) are earnestly longed for by all but the most craven right wing reactionaries. What if the great partisan re-sorting occurs over abortion “rights,” or other issues for that matter…and recreates the American map in a manner that indicates, in the most overt and undeniable way, a national distaste for progressive paternalism and leftist morality? The jig would be up on the pretense that progressive leftism represents “women” (or “minorities,” or what have you). It would suddenly expose the left’s lack of traction on their most cherished issues, and thus undermine their claim to be the party of “the people” against the oligarchs and hate-mongers. Hate-monger and oligarch would immediately be exposed as untenable smear terms for tens of millions of ordinary women of all economic and temperamental categories.
One of the most basic, and base, reasons why the progressive mind lurches so desperately in the direction of national legislation and the centralization of power, is precisely this psychological issue — the fear of being exposed in their lies about representing the people in general against their supposed oppressors.
I should note that I doubt the geographical shift Kristol predicts will actually happen, or at least in a way that would clearly reveal anything. For while women who want abortions, or rather wish to live lives that would make abortion a practical necessity, will certainly have to move to states where abortion is legal, people for whom the issue never arises as a practical concern are more likely to simply continue living where they are, regardless of the local laws on a matter that does not directly affect them. If the Democratic states moved in the direction of certain European countries, effectively mandating abortion in certain cases, such as on health grounds, then that might change the calculation significantly. Otherwise, I assume most anti-abortion Americans will continue to accept their state’s abortion permissiveness as just another instance of progressivism swallowing the land, while carrying on with their own lives as usual. We have all learned to abide a great many offenses against our personal sensibilities in modern times. Why should this case be any different, from the point of view of those who do not favor abortion “rights”?