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Those Contradictions Won’t Heighten Themselves, Ladies!

[ 165 ] March 26, 2013 |

There is a bad argument for the proposition that Roe was secretly bad for abortion rights that runs something like this: abortion was going to be quickly legalized almost everywhere anyway, so by jumping the gun the Supreme Court created intense opposition for no real benefit. This is a bad argument because it’s ignorant of the actual state of abortion politics in 1973. Particularly after a few of the most sympathetic states had been picked off, getting legislatures to repeal abortion statutes that were selectively enforced and hence didn’t really affect the most affluent women in the state was enormously difficult, and the legalization drive had almost entirely stalled by 1971. Contrary to myth, anti-abortion forces became very well-organized and very effective at the state level following the initial wave of successes in the late 60s. Absent Roe, abortion would have almost certainly continued to remain illegal in a majority of states for a long time, a problem that would get even worse as southern states became ever more Republican-dominated (which was going to happen no matter how Roe was decided.)

There is, however, an even worse nominally pro-choice argument against Roe. Which brings us to Bloix, who yesterday reminded us of his unfortunate response to Michael Berube’s classic decimation of David Brooks. After gesturing towards the first bad argument, Bloix makes a different kind of bad argument:

An argument that Brooks does not make, but one that I believe, is that Roe killed feminism’s opportunity to become a majority movement. Far and away the most radicalizing event for a young woman before Roe was the need to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. After Roe, pregnancy became an issue of “privacy” between a woman and her doctor, a personal “choice,” with no political implications at all. The entire premise of feminism as a movement– “the personal is political”— vanished for the generation after Roe.

This was a terrible loss for progressives in America. Instead of a mass movement organizing around the right to an abortion, we have seen a mass movement to prohibit that right, while those who should be out in front politically — women and their partners who have made use of their right to an abortion — are embarrassed to discuss it in public.

There are some rather obvious problems with this argument on its face. First of all, abortion is (to put it mildly) not the only feminist issue out there. As Michael notes, the failure of the ERA didn’t cause the right to back down or notably increase feminist mobilization. There’s also an additional assumption that feminists were weaker than groups that were less successful or relied less on litigation which doesn’t actually withstand scrutiny. Labor, which has been getting routed and doesn’t have a viable path through the courts in most cases, has continued to get routed. Abortion, conversely, was the one issue that Bill Clinton wouldn’t sell out on. The ban on D&X abortion is a classic New Democrat kind of compromise — terrible, irrational legislation, but popular and not affecting that many women. But Clinton refused to sign it twice. What does that tell you?

But leaving aside its empirical failures, on a logical level this argument is a Pacific Ocean of fail. While the first bad argument says Roe was bad because it was superfluous, Bloix’s bad argument says Roe is bad because it worked too well. The radicalizing effect of having to seek black market abortions, of course, can only happen as long as abortion is criminalized, and vanishes as soon as bans on abortion are defeated. The argument is just an argument against winning, which isn’t any less irrational than it appears. To quote myself:

Arguments about the political benefits of overturning Roe ultimately prove too much. By the same logic, one can argue that allowing Social Security to be privatized would create tensions in the conservative coalition and a backlash that might help Democrats politically. This is hardly good reason to hope that it happens. The fact that commentators making the political case for abandoning Roe never apply the same logic to other issues reflects a general tendency to take women’s rights less seriously. That same unseriousness is revealed by the fact that pundits searching for issues on which Democrats can appeal to social conservatives are more likely to cite abortion than, say, church-and-state issues, where the liberal position is far more unpopular and compromises would have far less direct impact on people’s lives. Ultimately, to call these contrarian arguments “pro-choice” is a non sequitur. They’re only compelling if the value of protecting a woman’s right to choose is accorded almost no weight.

Arguing that women should consider to suffer under abortion bans because of hypothetical political benefits make about as much sense as arguments in favor of using third parties as a vehicle for progressive change because 1. Throw elections to Republicans 2. ??? 3. ??? 4. ??? 5. President Avakian and Speaker of the House Chomsky! It’s not a coincidence that such arguments have comparatively little appeal to people upon whom the contradictions will be most heightened.

Comments (165)

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  1. Peter Hovde says:

    So if these people really ran with it, and argued that it was the expansion of abortion rights that derailed the Firestonian program of separating sex from reproduction, I’d have more respect for them. I wouldn’t think it was valid, but I’d still give them props.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      If feminists were really serious about progressive change, they would get to work repealing the 19th Amendment. Every time an 18 year old woman was denied the right to vote…we’d have a feminist majority in no time! They might even be able to get a constitutional amendment guaranteeing their right to vote!

  2. rea says:

    Bloix is quite right, and similarly, by failing to deploy armed drones against domestic enemies, Obama is depriving civil libertarianism of the opportunity to become a majority movement.

    • Peter Hovde says:

      The spirit of Jerry Rubin lives! “We expected concentration camps and we got Bobby Kennedy. I am more confident of our ability to survive concentration camps than of our ability to survive Bobby.”

  3. LeeEsq says:

    Is it okay still to prefer to have abortion legalized through legislation than Supreme Court decision. Legislation is more permanent and less prone to getting reversed or limited by another judicial decision. Its a lot harder to revise legislation and inertia and laziness can serve as protection against attempts to do so.

    • Barry says:

      Have you seen what the GOP wave of 2010 has done in state governments? Laws can be revised overnight.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Its a lot harder to revise legislation and inertia and laziness can serve as protection against attempts to do so.

      Which, of course, is why Roe was so important!

    • witless chum says:

      Is it okay still to prefer to have abortion legalized through legislation than Supreme Court decision. Legislation is more permanent and less prone to getting reversed or limited by another judicial decision. Its a lot harder to revise legislation and inertia and laziness can serve as protection against attempts to do so.

      Union rights in Michigan say this is the opposite of true. And all these politics 101 arguments about people getting mobilized leave out the myriad of real world factors that get in the way of such things. To stay with the Michigan example, Republicans controlled the state for the gerrymandering period after both of the last two census, with a period in between where Democrats ran things. And who knows what kind of problems we’re gonna have because a Democratic state supreme court judge was crooked and bounced from office.

      • Barry says:

        I want to re-emphasize this (I live in Michigan). We became a ‘right to work’ state almost literally overnight – the legislature passed a bill very quickly, and the governor ‘changed his mind’ and signed it.

        We’ve seen similar legislative revolutions in Wisconsin and Ohio, that I know of in the past couple of years (with differing degrees of success). In Indiana Mich ‘Moderate’ Daniels did this, with no fuss, no muss, just dead unions.

        LeeEsq, what you said simply isn’t true; a motivated party in control of a government can do some incredible stuff literally overnight.

    • DrDick says:

      I will merely second what others here have said and point out that actual experience says otherwise.

      • LeeEsq says:

        My general opinion is that most progressive changes through Court decisions aren’t solid until backed by legislation. Brown vs. Board of Ed got the ball rolling on getting the federal government to enforce civil rights and end segregation but it was the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act that really got things going.

        • LeeEsq says:

          In terms of getting the federal government tools to fight segregation, not in terms of Civil Rights activism.

  4. Malaclypse says:

    Shorter Bloix: feminism should not be good for actual females.

  5. mds says:

    Professor Lemieux, I hate to be “that guy,” but … Okay, I love to be “that guy,” but you might want to consider running Find and Replace to convert Bliox to Bloix.

    • catclub says:

      I like Bliox. It makes me think he is from Biloxi, and has bollixed up his arguments.

      (NB. Biloxi is perhaps one of the more modern Mississippi towns.)

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Yes, the error was probably a Freudian slip, based on the fact that Bloix’s arguments here — Roe was bad for women! Professors, especially the ones at LGM, hate their students! — tend to be bollocks.

  6. Peter says:

    To summarize:

    If Roe v. Wade hadn’t happened, women seeking abortions would radicalized into an effective mass movement, who could have accomplished anything.

    Why, they might even have pushed the SCOTUS to assert a constitutional right to legal abortion, under the penumbra of the fourth amendment!

    But alas, Roe v. Wade did happen, and now we can only dream of that world.

  7. STH says:

    What I don’t understand is the assumption that the women who got back-alley abortions (i.e., mostly poor women) had all kinds of political power to get Congress to pass legislation. I’m not going to say that would be impossible, but it seems pretty unlikely. And if they had it, wouldn’t they have used it prior to Roe?

    And how did Roe remove politics from the issue of abortion? I seem to recall a few political skirmishes over abortion since then.

    • tonycpsu says:

      You see this all the time from the wingers. The “radical homosexual agenda” is so powerful that we must curtail their rights in order to keep them from destroying traditional “opposite marriage”, but somehow that immense power wasn’t able to get them anything. Two brown dudes standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia is a far greater threat to our democracy than a systematic attempt to remove millions from the voter rolls. etc. etc. etc. Their enemies are all-powerful, except when it comes to actually changing policy.

      • cpinva says:

        let’s not forget those superman terrorists, who must be kept at gitmo, else they would simply walk through the walls of the country’s domestic, maximum security prisons. it’s only the cuban kryptonite, that keeps them from flying out of gitmo as it is.

      • UserGoogol says:

        I think that’s a general tendency of political partisans in general. The other side always possesses the most nefarious trickery known to man, since after all, we’re right and they’re wrong, so why do they keep winning?

        I mean, Republicans are probably more out of touch, (the causal mechanisms are much more plausible that the rich and powerful would be able to influence politics) but of course I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      And if they had it, wouldn’t they have used it prior to Roe?

      Right. The second shitty argument is sort of a compound error based on the first shitty argument.

    • Barry says:

      “What I don’t understand is the assumption that the women who got back-alley abortions (i.e., mostly poor women) had all kinds of political power to get Congress to pass legislation. ”

      It’s simple – it’s not true; Bloix has to pull it out of his *ss to make his argument work.

  8. Lego My Eggo says:

    Arguing that women should consider to suffer under abortion bans because of hypothetical political benefits…It’s not a coincidence that such arguments have comparatively little appeal to people upon whom the contradictions will be most heightened.

    Well, that’s it right there. We have a male pundit who needs to fill column inches with something to distinguish his drivel from all the other pundit-drool out there, so why not engage in contrarian hypotheticals of sufficiently twisted logic to give them a veneer of faux-intellectualism? It’s no skin off his back if women can’t get abortions.

  9. rea says:

    Biloxi is many things, but one thing he is not is a pundit who needs to fill column inches.

  10. wengler says:

    The worst thing about Roe is that it made liberals think that the Supreme Court was a great protector of human rights and that judicial review was awesome.

    Instead as we’ve seen from everything ranging from the 2000 election to Citizens United the Supreme Court has resumed its traditional role of stalling all progress through the rule of five. They pick our Presidents and corrupt our elections. Fuck the fucking Supreme Court(and Yankees)!

    • Malaclypse says:

      However, also, too.

      • wengler says:

        They also sometimes strike down rarely-enforced archaic laws! All it cost us was a bank-owned Congress.

        • Malaclypse says:

          They also sometimes strike down rarely-enforced archaic laws!

          Turing wept.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          They also sometimes strike down rarely-enforced archaic laws!

          That had much broader implications than their facial restrictions, of course.

          All it cost us was a bank-owned Congress.

          No, it didn’t.

          As for your other argument, on the question of whether liberals should unilaterally disarm as long as judicial review exists, my vote is “no.” So let’s say Roe comes out the other way and liberals have a dimmer view of the court, so what? Who gives a shit? Judicial review isn’t actually going anywhere.

        • Jeremy says:

          I’m really not seeing the counter-factual where, absent several years of relatively progressive rulings by the Supreme Court, liberals have no respect for it, and therefore Scalia changes his mind in Bush v. Gore. Or maybe, if the Supreme Court is sufficiently reactionary during the seventies, the rest of us just ignore them and swear in Al Gore regardless of their decision. This is a really strange argument.

    • witless chum says:

      And the Harvard basketball team!

  11. Bloix says:

    Scott, one person who disagrees that my argument is a “Pacific Ocean of fail” is a fellow named Michael Berube, who wrote in response to me on the comments thread to his post, “A great argument, JR, and one that I have some sympathy with, even though I’m leery of scenarios that depend to some measure on alternative histories.” (I was JR then, before I chose Bloix as something that would be a more singular identity.) You might want to read what Michael wrote.

    To respond to you directly, I’m not a “heighten the contradictions” kind of guy. I generally believe that when things get better they are better, and when things get worse they are worse.

    On the other hand, I do believe – to take what I hope is an uncontroversial example – that the student opposition to the War in Vietnam was a result of the draft. I also believe that thestudent movement of the 60′s caused a cultural discontinuity that ended the 1950′s forever. The resistance to the draft spread the change that created the culture we live in today. That’s not an argument that the war was a good thing.

    If we’d had a draft during the Iraq War, the campuses would have been in turmoil, with all sorts of unknowable results. The prospect of getting killed is a strong force for radicalization.

    And so is the prospect of being forced to bear a child that you don’t want.

    You write that I argued that Roe was “secretly bad for abortion rights.” I didn’t argue that. I argued that Roe was bad for feminism as a political force.

    There are things about my personal experience with abortion that I’m not willing to say in this post (anonymity being only relative), but I will say that in the years before and shortly after Roe there was a lot of activism around abortion, some of it very radical – either illegal or in gray areas – and that activism disappeared as a result of the decision. Roe undoubtedly saved a great many lives, and made many more lives happier and more fulfilling, but it also undercut the trigger that led many people – mostly women – to political engagement.

    • tonycpsu says:

      Your response reads as if the activism is the end instead of the means. Saving a great many lives and making many more lives happier and fulfilling is the goal, and unless you can show that the activism you’re speaking of that was supposedly undercut by Roe was having at least that much positive effect, I’ll take the saved lives and better lives over that activism.

      • LeeEsq says:

        To a lot of people, activism is the end rather than the means. Think of Trotsky pushing for “Permanent Revolution.” They want permanent activism because they believe that it will ultimately lead to more radical results.

        • Malaclypse says:

          That isn’t what Trotsky meant by Permanent Revolution. Permanent Revolution was a theory for how the communist revolution could happen when there had been no bourgeois revolution.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Thank you, sorry for the mistake. It was just Trotsky trying to get to Marxism without going through all the stages Marx thought was necessary.

            • Malaclypse says:

              It was actually a fairly interesting theory. The idea was that in a country that came late to industrialization like Russia, the bourgeoisie would be largely non-native outside investors, and the domestic bourgeoisie would never be strong enough to manage to overthrow the aristocracy. That task would instead fall to the developing proletariat, who would need the assistance of the peasantry (much like the bourgeoisie in England and France had). However, the proletariat would not stop with the development of bourgeois democracy, but would continue the revolution through to socialism.

              If nothing else, it provides insight into the question of why countries that industrialized late took different, longer, paths to democracy.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Your response reads as if the activism is the end instead of the means.

        Precisely.

    • cpinva says:

      then you and mr. berube are both wrong. see how easy that was? ever heard the old saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? sure you have. there’s a reason it’s an old saying, because it’s true. you and mr. berube share a trait: neither of you would be directly affected, were roe to not have happened. as such, your opinion, and $.50, will buy a small coffee at mcd’s.

      with respect to the draft and afghanistan/iraq, i agree, and have said so for years now, you didn’t come up with this in a vacuum. in fact, several democrats in congress felt the same way, and attempted to introduce legislation bringing the draft back, for this very reason. they were stopped cold, by the republicans, who realized a draft would effectively kill their party.

      • Bloix says:

        Cpinva, it’s true that I would not have been directly effected in the way that you are suggesting if Roe had not been decided, but only because at the time of Roe I lived in a jurisdiction in which abortion was legal. It’s a mistake to assume that only women’s lives were changed by the legalization of abortion.

        • thebewilderness says:

          You know what? Fuck you.
          Dead women. Lots and lots of dead women and you were effected how? By knowing one? By being inconvenienced?
          If I were not so flooded and overwhelmed with horrific memories I could tell you what an asshat I think you are.

      • You know, sometimes I am gracious to interlocutors, just because. Here’s a bit more of my response to Bloix:

        A great argument, JR, and one that I have some sympathy with, even though I’m leery of scenarios that depend to some measure on alternative histories. For while you’re right that “in 1973 a movement to reform the abortion laws was underway in the states,” who knows but that the movement would have been rolled back right around the same time that the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated? The period 1973-1980, after all, witnesses the birth of the great cultural backlash movements in the US—anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-gay—and I wouldn’t want to put too many of my chips on all the progressive developments that might have happened if not for Roe.

        But let’s get back to Brooks. His argument is that Roe alienated conservatives from their government, and led to an increase in civil incivility. My response is that whatever one can say about Roe on this count, one can say a fortiori for Brown and Loving: both were decisions without precedent (the first overturning a clear precedent, the second presenting a question which, as the Court noted up front, had never been adjudicated before) involving an “activist” judiciary that created new rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. (I second Steady Eddie’s second of Ruth Ginsburg’s argument about defending reproductive rights under the heading of the equal protection clause, as well.) And the only reason Brooks makes this argument at all, of course, is to provide “high-end” ideological cover for the GOP’s broadside attacks on the very idea of an independent judiciary. In response, I do think it behooves liberals and progressives to remind people—and ourselves—why we have sometimes turned to the courts rather than to the court of public opinion.

        Just, you know, for the record and all.

    • Shakezula says:

      If there was a way to set up a do over, and you had the ability to make the choice, which would you go with?

      • Bloix says:

        Shakezula, is that directed at me? I’m not ignoring you, I just don’t quite understand the question. Ask it again and I’ll answer it as best I can.

        • Shakezula says:

          If you had the ability to rewrite history, would you change the ruling in Roe to keep abortion illegal?

          • Bloix says:

            Okay, having extricated your dainty Frye boot from my behind, I will do my best to answer your question, as promised.

            As I understand it, you’re asking me whether, if a genie appeared to me today and said, “Bloix, I will grant you the magic power to change history. you may reverse Roe but I will not reveal to you how the years between 1973 and today will unfold. You will have to take your chances.” I would say, no, I’m not going to fuck with history. I have no idea what all the ramifications might be.

            If you were to ask me, okay, no genie, just, do you think that on balance the world would be a better place if Roe had been decided the other way? That’s a different and harder question. Every event has positive and negative consequences. On balance, I would say no, it’s likely that the world is a better place because Roe was decided the way it was than if the two dissenters had commanded a majority, but it’s unfortunate that we lost a stronger and more powerful women’s movement because of it.

            But you know, we can play this game with all sorts of historical events. If a genie were to appear to you and say, “Shakezula, you have the power to reverse the election of Abraham LIncoln,” would you do it? And if you say, no, does that mean that you are heartlessly in favor of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men and boys? Of course not. Historical argument doesn’t work that way.

            • Shakezula says:

              I would say, no, I’m not going to fuck with history. I have no idea what all the ramifications might be.

              How then are you not blowing a hole in your contention that “we” (or at least women) lost something due to the ruling in Roe? Your entire hypothesis hinges on your belief things would have been somehow better or different in an ultimately good way. But here you say “Gosh, I have no idea what would have happened.” Which suggests, (as I suspected) you didn’t put much thought into your original hypothesis, you’re just taking a whizz over someone’s parade.

              If a genie were to appear to you and say, “Shakezula, you have the power to reverse the election of Abraham LIncoln,” would you do it? And if you say, no, does that mean that you are heartlessly in favor of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men and boys? Of course not. Historical argument doesn’t work that way.

              This would be an incredibly clever rejoinder if I were the one arguing that Lincoln’s election (and subsequent events including emancipation) was a bad thing. As I’ve said elsewhere this kind of argument is shite, you will not hear me making it and an attempt to imply I was or would make it is – if one is being charitable – a sign of fucknuggetry.

    • STH says:

      Roe undoubtedly saved a great many lives, and made many more lives happier and more fulfilling

      So are you claiming more lives would have been saved and more made happier if Roe hadn’t happened? If not, then you’ve refuted your own argument.

    • Barry says:

      “If we’d had a draft during the Iraq War, the campuses would have been in turmoil, with all sorts of unknowable results. The prospect of getting killed is a strong force for radicalization.”

      Yes, why during the Vietnam War it took only a few tens of thousands of Americans getting killed to do anything. This probably wouldn’t have taken as long during the Iraq War; I’m sure that by the time the US had several thousand soldier killed the war would no longer be sustainable – say, by 2010.

  12. lee says:

    I still don’t quite get what the term “heightening the contradictions” means.
    A little help, please.

    • sharculese says:

      If we put Republicans in power and let them do a bunch of terrible stuff, people will realize Republicans are terrible and stop putting them in power.

      • lee says:

        i get that but I guess my brain just can’t connect how those words mean that.
        what is the contradiction and how is it heightened?

        • Malaclypse says:

          The phrase comes out of Lenin. In late capitalism, there exist contradictions between the productive capacity of the means of production, and the distribution allowed under the relations of production. The First World War, by making things worse for people, heightened the contradictions – i.e., things got worse, which allowed the Bolsheviks to seize power, which made everything better forever.

    • LeeEsq says:

      It basically means that the worse things get in the immediate future, the better the end result would be.

    • Bloix says:

      Lee, Marxists and some other philosophical radicals believe that history moves in a more-or-less predetermined direction through a process known as the dialectic, whereby the existing order of things calls into existence its antithesis, and the contradiction between the two yields, through a process of conflict, a resolution or synthesis.

      Lenin took this theory of historical change a step further, and contended that a properly prepared and political movement could force historical change to take place more rapidly and directly, by taking action that would “heighten the contradictions” between the existing order and the opposing forces that emerged from it.

      Usually, this theoretical construct has led to the delusion that periods of political repression are actually steps toward greater liberation because they are signs that the dialectical struggle is reaching a crisis which will end in a struggle in which the forces of progress will triumph.

      There have been all sorts of historical movements intended to “heighten the contradictions” in order to encourage violent revolutions that would lead to a new order. Often small bands of revolutionaries or terrorists have had ideologies along these lines. They think that by assassinating leaders, for example, they can provoke repression that will reveal the repressive nature of the state and cause the masses to rise up in revolution.

      You get echoes or shadows of this sort of thinking in modern political arguments, for example, supporting Ralph Nader’s quixotic 2000 presidential campaign. People argued that by throwing the election to Bush, Nader showed that both parties were really the same and thus set the stage for the emergence of a new, truly populist party.

      So when someone says you’re a believer in “heightening the contradictions” there’s a whiff, at least of red-baiting, but more importantly, it’s an argument that you’re delusional. You don’t care about the lives real people and you prefer to fantasize about some wonderful future world that exists nowhere except in your own head. The more things get worse, the more that’s proof that your wonderful new world is ready to be born.

      And if things are actually getting better, that’s bad, because it means that the contradictions are being papered over and the eventual crisis is merely being delayed.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        You don’t care about the lives real people and you prefer to fantasize about some wonderful future world that exists nowhere except in your own head. The more things get worse, the more that’s proof that your wonderful new world is ready to be born.

        Yes. I think this is in fact a perfect characterization of your argument here.

        • Bloix says:

          Scott, I’m a failed historian turned lawyer, and one of the reasons I like this blog is that one can argue historically, not necessarily instrumentally, which is what lawyers have to do. My argument here is that Roe has had unforeseen and unfortunate consequences, together with its foreseen and beneficial consequences. This is a perfectly ordinary historical argument. It’s odd that Berube, a literary critic, can understand this kind of argument but you, a historian, are having difficulty with it.

          • sibusisodan says:

            My argument here is that Roe has had unforeseen and unfortunate consequences, together with its foreseen and beneficial consequences.

            Well, not quite.

            Your argument is that Roe had specific unforeseen and unfortunate consequences for which you have provided no evidence (end of the feminist movement), and that the absence of Roe would – perhaps, maybe – have had greater beneficial consequences than its presence. Again, with no attention paid to the likelihood of those particular consequences occurring, or the mechanisms by which they would occur.

            If your argument is, ‘if things had been generically different, isn’t it possible they would be better?’ then we likely all agree. But it’s not a very interesting argument. So what, right?

            But if your argument is ‘if things had had been different in these specific ways can’t we all agree that would have led to better outcomes via these mechanisms?’ then you do actually need to provide the legwork to demonstrate the strength of your counterfactual.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            You may want to take a break — dragging goalposts that far must get tiring. I mean, yes, I suppose one thing about major policy victories is that they correct injustices that have mobilizing effects. But what you argued is that because women dying in black market abortions was such a great mobilizing tool it should have been allowed to continue. To re-state that argument is to refute it.

  13. mds says:

    On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to a very general observation that many liberals needed to stay / become more energized and engaged, rather than resting on their laurels. On the other hand, as subsequent history has demonstrated, the price of hard-won liberties is eternal vigilance. I’m less willing to accept the notion that Talibornagain whackadoodles would have remained disengaged from politics in the absence of Roe, despite (1) the presence of yet more rights-granting Supreme Court decisions they already violently disagreed with; (2) the development of a determined movement to drag fundamentalist Christians into coordinated political action (see, e.g., Francis Schaeffer), which was casting about for any excuse; and (3) overlapping with (2), the ongoing long game played by the John Birch / Goldwater crew to hijack the GOP.

    What if liberals had pushed for legislative victories instead? That would have led to shrieking denunciations and mobilization by the Talibornagain and their handlers, followed by rollback whenever the GOP gained the levers of power. What if liberals had worked on more incrementally changing the culture on such matters? The Roe framework remains acceptable to a majority of Americans, even if they don’t realize it (and regardless of Sebastian H’s repeated mendacious number games), yet state after state shuts down access to family planning services. There is no manner of victory for human rights and basic decency that avoids generating a backlash from these people. Liberals and those majorities which support liberal positions thus need to be more engaged with all levels of the political process regardless of Supreme Court rulings.

  14. Data Tutashkhia says:

    I usually disagree with Bilox, but in this case he is, I believe, quite correct.

    Do you all believe you live in a democracy? If so, on a clear-cut issue like abortion, you just need to accept the consequences. Organize a mass-movement, if you feel this is so important.

    Otherwise it feels like an authoritarian coercion, and that creates a backlash. Abortion is legal, but I hear in rural conservative states you can’t find anybody to perform the procedure anyway. It’s somewhat similar to the busing thing, I suppose. If people don’t want something, they can be pushed only so far. In the end, chances are you’ll only make it worse.

    • tonycpsu says:

      We live in a particular kind of democracy that involves three coequal branches of government, one of which exists to interpret our founding documents and legal precedents without asking the public for a vote. By your logic, the courts should never be allowed to intervene in situations where their opinion would go against the results of a national referendum. This is ludicrous, and while the courts are waiting for public opinion to catch up (which is not guaranteed to happen on its own) peoples’ lives are being harmed. All so we can say we’re not forcing the correct interpretation of the Constitution down peoples’ throats? Please.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        I don’t like national referenda; I much prefer regional and local ones.

        Courts help to protect minorities, but abortion is not one of those things: it affects everybody. It affects the women, and it affects the men; it affects people of all walks of life. This is not a minority vs majority thing.

        As for the interpretation: interpretations are bullshit. You’ll see how you like the interpretations that are coming up in the next decade or so.

        It’s like the communist song says: tribunes and heroes won’t help, people have to fight themselves. And that is true. That’s just how it is.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Courts help to protect minorities, but abortion is not one of those things: it affects everybody. It affects the women, and it affects the men;

          Because in Data’s world, women can walk away from an unwanted pregnancy with exactly the same ease as a man, without abortion factoring in to that ability at all.

        • tonycpsu says:

          I don’t follow how your preference for leaving certain matters to state and local governments and the fact that abortion affecs “everybody” add up to a case for abortion not being legalized at the federal level.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            Different folks, different strokes.

            People should be able to organize their communities the way they choose. Up to a limit, of course. National laws, especially in a large and diverse nation, shouldn’t, ideally, generate any thorny long-lasting controversies. If they do, something’s not right. If that situation persists, maybe it’s time to split.

            • John Caldwell Calhoun says:

              People should be able to organize their communities the way they choose.

              I agree with the pretend Marxist.

            • tonycpsu says:

              National laws, especially in a large and diverse nation, shouldn’t, ideally, generate any thorny long-lasting controversies.

              So your preference is for less controversy and more dead mothers and unwanted children?

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                There should be politics without politics. Also, when local majorities decide thing this certainly cannot reflect any underlying conflict.

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Yes, dead mothers is what I enjoy most. I’m also objectively pro-Saddam.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  I was not being flippant. Your preference for avoiding controversy leads to the aforementioned dead mothers and unwanted pregnancies until your master plan for an activist groundswell of support for the pro-abortion position happens. Leaving this out of the equation is not an option.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  You don’t need a groundswell, you need 50% plus one. And if you can’t even muster that for something that is not really too complicated, and that seems so obvious to you, you may want to re-examine your assumptions.

                  Personally, I am pro-abortion (too many people already), but may I also suggest that there may be some other reasons for the dead mothers? After all, no one forces them to do backstreet abortions. There’s something that makes them desperate enough to choose that option. Some other, underlying social ills. Are those being addressed?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  There’s something that makes them desperate enough to choose that option.

                  Pig-headed fucks who concern-troll away the importance of reproductive issues based on dime-store dialecticts come to mind.

                • JL says:

                  There’s something that makes them desperate enough to choose that option. Some other, underlying social ills. Are those being addressed?

                  Are you unfamiliar with the reproductive justice movement, which pretty much combines addressing these underlying ills with addressing the abortion rights and abortion access issues?

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  You don’t need a groundswell, you need 50% plus one. And if you can’t even muster that for something that is not really too complicated, and that seems so obvious to you, you may want to re-examine your assumptions.

                  That would be lovely if our political system worked by gauging support on an issue-by-issue basis, but in case you hadn’t noticed we have a representative system. Voting for a representative basically entails voting for a bundle of issues; the dude you agree with on every other issue may also happen to be anti-abortion, in which case I would be willing to bet you’d still vote for him. So this argument only holds water if 50%+1 support abortion rights and have no competing policy preferences.

            • sharculese says:

              Different folks, different strokes.

              Some people think women should be slaves to their reproductive system, and some people aren’t cretins. It takes all kinds, guys!

              • Data Tutashkhia says:

                Some people think they know exactly what other people think – and that those who are not True Believers must be evil infidels or cretins.

                Why, yes, it takes all kinds, but I could do with fewer of those.

            • DrDick says:

              What planet do you live on? You are obviously unfamiliar with this one.

    • sharculese says:

      The dreaded authoritarian coercion of not making things illegal. Spoooooooooooky.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        Yeah, it’s akin to living in a country where people are allowed to have marriages you disapprove of. Oooohhh, very scary, kids.

        • Malaclypse says:

          But Kvetch, why won’t you think of all the gay rights activism that fag-bashing encourages?

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Seriously. If only we had vigorous enforcement of sodomy laws, there would be a mass movement in favor of gay rights! One day, they could even be powerful enough to get sodomy laws repealed.

            • Shakezula says:

              But wait, then they would no longer have a raison d’etre and they’d be deprived of the impetus to organize!

              Holy shit, I’ve got it, now…

            • Bloix says:

              Given the historical importance of Stonewall in creating a gay rights movement, this is a particularly unconvincing reductio ad absurdum.

              • Malaclypse says:

                But the point of Stonewall was to end the harassment, while you mourn the fact that women today don’t face the horrors of back-alley abortions. The point of fighting back is to make things better, not to continue the horrors that made the fight necessary.

                • Bloix says:

                  “while you mourn the fact that women today don’t face the horrors of back-alley abortions”

                  Macalypse, I can argue with you when you say that what I argue is logically incorrect, or factually wrong, or that it would lead to unacceptable real-world consequences. You might even persuade me that I’m wrong.

                  But I can’t argue with you when you attribute emotional states to me that I don’t feel. All I can say is that you’re incorrect.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  My apologies. You merely stated that the absence of the need for back-alley abortions hurt feminism. Technically, you nowhere used the word “mourn.”

                • Shakezula says:

                  And honestly, normal people prefer NOT to go head-to-head with les gendarmes because they are raised to follow rules and believe that only bad people fight with police. The amount of shit normal people have to endure before they decide “You know, everything sucks so badly throwing down with the cops can’t possibly make it worse,” is hard to comprehend.

                  This also raises disturbing questions re: Children and old ladies being bitten by police dogs during the civil rights movement. Personally, I think it was a bad thing that people were fire hosed and bitten by police dogs (also being lynched and beaten and terrorized). It seems there’s a school of thought that these were all good things.

                  And you know what, I’ll even go so far as to say if someone who gets his ass bitten by a K-9 or her head laid open by a billy club, if that person who actually suffered wants to say “I was proud to have my ass bitten or my head broken,” that’s fine with me. But when some lounge lizard saunters along years after the fact and says “People getting worked over by the cops is a good thing. Pity there isn’t more of that,” that to me is a sign of a serious reality disconnect. AT BEST.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                Given the historical importance of Stonewall in creating a gay rights movement, this is a particularly unconvincing reductio ad absurdum.

                You seem to have this strange idea that there was never a women’s movement. Roe was in large measure the result of a mass movement! It wasn’t something a couple lawyers just dreamed up at random.

                In addition, of course, what Malaclypse said.

                • Anonymous says:

                  It also seems worth noting that one thing this discussion has not yet produced is the evidence of significant feminist demobilization in 1973. I’m not a historian of the era–maybe such evidence exists. But if you’re asserting, you should, you know, provide it

                • Lee Rudolph says:

                  (too deeply nested to Reply, but this is in fact a reply to Anonymous, not Scott)

                  I’m not a historian, period, and I know the weakness of “eye-witness” anecdotal accounts: but I was pretty much surrounded by mobilized/mobilizing feminists both before and after 1973, and I really, really didn’t see any “significant feminist demobilization” then–quite the contrary.

                • Bloix says:

                  Um, you appeared to be asserting (sarcastically, so it’s not completely clear what you intended) that enforcement of sodomy laws did not play a role in the emergence of the movement for gay liberation. I pointed out that as a matter of historical fact your assertion is incorrect. I have no idea what you’re arguing now, but you’re certainly not responding to my point concerning Stonewall.

        • Data Tutashkhia says:

          Careful what you wish. I’ve been married a couple of times; trust me: marriage is a lousy anachronistic institution. Never thought of it as some ‘privilege’. If I could avoid it, I would. So, sorry, but it’s not easy for me to work up any great sympathy.

          • sharculese says:

            Did you forget which thread you were trolling because this is the abortion one.

          • Jeremy says:

            I don’t think anyone here is surprised that your sympathy for people who aren’t straight like you is down there with your sympathy for people who aren’t white like you or male like you. There’s always some excuse for allowing the oppression of people who aren’t straight white males to continue. Sure, you’re all for theoretically advancing equal rights for all, but when it starts making straight white males uncomfortable, maybe we should back off.

            I’d suggest that the fact that you seem to believe that your own personal ability to work up any great sympathy for the oppression that others suffer is what matters is the reason you’re actually a really shitty leftist (or just a troll). It’s not actually incumbent on others to demand rights that you personally can relate to. If you didn’t treat these issues as if the world is supposed to revolve around you, you’d get less grief around here. Not that I’ve ever seen any indication that getting grief from the rest of us isn’t actually your real motivation.

            • Data Tutashkhia says:

              If you didn’t treat these issues as if the world is supposed to revolve around you, you’d get less grief around here.

              Thank you for your kind reply, Jeremy. I am familiar with you doctrine of identity politics, where groups of people are classified by some of their traits, and then, based on statistical analysis, some identities are classified as oppressors and others as oppressed.

              I am not a follower, however. Either of this or any other doctrine. I don’t care if you are a man or woman, gay or straight, white or black. It makes no difference. You are just a correspondent, somewhere on the other side of the Earth. You can be married to anyone or anything and it wouldn’t make me uncomfortable, not for a millisecond.

              Yes, I do treat these issues as if the world is supposed to revolve around me. Just expressing my personal opinion here, having a conversation, killing time. Isn’t this what we all do?

              And don’t worry about the grief, please: I don’t have to read any of it, if I don’t want to. I can close this tab in my browser any time, and never open it again.

    • rea says:

      We absolutely do not live in a democracy, which is a good thing. We live in a constitutional republic, in which the power of the people to vote things is limited by the rule of law. E. g., it does not matter that a well-financed campaign to reinstate slavery by national referendum might win–it would be unconstitutional. And yes, this is not perfect, and yes, the epistemology behind it is a tad confused, but it beats the alternative, as Socrates could tell you.

    • mds says:

      but in this case he is, I believe, quite correct.

      Well, knock me over with a feather plucked from a gay cockade.

    • Shakezula says:

      Because see if rulings people don’t like = backlash then we should not allow the court to rule on or even pass laws on anything that any people don’t like because there will be backlash against that law.

      We should never ask if the backlash is reasonable or if it is fair to deprive large swaths of the population of their rights if some other portion of the population thinks they should be.

      That’s what a democracy is people!

    • L.M. says:

      “To the argument made by Thurgood Marshall that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are. One hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this Court to protect minority rights of any kind – whether those of business, slaveholders, or Jehovah’s Witnesses-have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest.”

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        I always knew Data was Zombie Lobotomized William Rehnquist.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Like I said, the abortion thing ain’t about any minority. It affects everybody.

        • Hogan says:

          Jim Crow affected whites too. Doesn’t mean it didn’t discriminate against a minority.

          • Data Tutashkhia says:

            Could you elaborate on this, please? Are you implying that there is some schism in it; like, that men generally want more children and women fewer?

            If it was so, it still wouldn’t make it a minority issue, because the women are not a minority, but are men even a majority among those who oppose abortions?

            • Malaclypse says:

              Why, it might even be that men – not you, obviously, but other men – might avoid when responsibilities that pregnancy entails, because they are not themselves pregnant, while women don’t – or, technically, won’t, should you have your way – have that option.

              Are you actually this completely clueless? You can’t actually be this stupid, can you?

              • djw says:

                Are you actually this completely clueless? You can’t actually be this stupid, can you?

                I think he’s been pretty open about the answer to this question a few times recently. “We’re all playing a game here” or some such thing was the most recent admission on this blog, and CT commenters have elicited similar confessions from him occasionally over the years, under this and his previous identities.

                My own theory is that he’s a kind of method-actor troll; he’s sufficiently committed to the project of this character he’s created that he’s trying to actually become as stupid as the character is, and he may actually be succeeding. In the early days, ABB1 was just as obnoxious but not nearly as dense.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  Hi DJW,
                  you sound annoyed, and you’re also one of the posters here (right?). If this is no fun for you, would it be resolved if I refrained from commenting in your threads? And if it is annoying to most owners here, please tell me, and I’ll stop commenting on this blog altogether. It’s not a big deal.

                  It’s odd, though. It’s clear from this post that there is a controversy. Don’t you want someone to defend the other side? Why don’t you want someone to defend the other side?

                • Hogan says:

                  Don’t you want someone to defend the other side?

                  But you’re not defending the other side, you’re just repeating “There’s another side.” As if we didn’t know that.

                • sibusisodan says:

                  Don’t you want someone to defend the other side? Why don’t you want someone to defend the other side?

                  Well, as Hogan says, you’re not producing arguments for the other side. You’re merely pointing out that there’s another side, and isn’t it sad that people don’t agree on this, because there shouldn’t be controversy in a nation of 300M people over issues.

                  But if you really want to play devil’s advocate (and I think that’s generally a pretty useful exercise), then (i) you should make clear to everyone that that’s what you’re doing, by saying something like ‘Just to play devil’s advocate for a second…’, and (ii) you should actually do it.

                • Data Tutashkhia says:

                  I dunno, perhaps you and Hogan are confused on what “the other side” means. It should be clear from the context, but in case you guys need extra help: I’m not against abortions. “The other side” are those who believe that Roe is not a good way to deal with the issue. And if you feel that I’m not producing arguments, well, what can I say, you have the right to your opinion, like everybody else.

                • sibusisodan says:

                  And if you feel that I’m not producing arguments, well, what can I say, you have the right to your opinion, like everybody else.

                  …and you aren’t going to dispute that opinion? Because we’re correct, right?

                  You aren’t actually producing arguments for the other side – those who believe non-Roe would lead to better outcomes. You’re just saying that the other side exists, oh and by the way there’s this whole other other side who think that Roe legalises murder, and isn’t it sad that we don’t all agree.

                  I’m actually intrigued to see how far you can push this passive aggression.

        • Johnny Sack says:

          It has the most profound effect on women. If you do not acknowledge this, you are arguing in bad faith.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Organize a mass-movement

      Gee, thanks! Nobody ever thought of that. Certainly, Roe was not in any way a product of a long-standing mass movement.

      Do you all believe you live in a democracy?

      Indeed. In this particular democracy, judicial review has been an institutional feature for more than 200 years.

      Otherwise it feels like an authoritarian coercion, and that creates a backlash.

      There is no evidence whatsoever that policy victories won through the courts produce more backlash than any other victories. The same people who denounced Roe as “authoritarian” wanted the Supreme COurt to strike down the signature achievement of the Obama administration based on arguments virtually nobody took seriously in 2008.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Certainly, Roe was not in any way a product of a long-standing mass movement.

        Could you clarify this one, please? Mass movement to convince a half-dozen judges? Mass movement to elect presidents who will nominate judges who will sign the correct opinion?

        So, you agree that this has nothing to do with any constitutions, just politics? At least we agree on something.

        • sharculese says:

          You don’t actually know anything about the history of reproductive rights, do you?

          • sibusisodan says:

            Judging from the replies Data’s given in this thread – which generally seem to amount to ‘I cannot understand what you mean when you explain to me the logical consequences of my position’, I believe your statement contains precisely six superfluous words.

      • Malaclypse says:

        There is no evidence whatsoever

        You are arguing evidence with someone who insists that his belief that black people are scary is not at all racist? I’m gonna go out on a limb and point out that evidence is the last thing Data is interested in.

    • witless chum says:

      Data, I think abortion is a fundamental enough right, part of the concept bodily autonomy that ranks up there with speech, assembly, etc., that it needs to be guaranteed to everyone, not just those who live in decent states. Since the 14th Amendment, it’s been illegal for certain states to cancel freedom of speech and for them to not allow universal male sufferage, both of which were obviously practices they used previously. Since the 1950s, we’ve even started to enforce those radical changes to the constitution. In short, just because you live in Idaho doesn’t mean you aren’t an American citizen, entitled to the rights and privileges of such.

      • rea says:

        Since the 14th Amendment, it’s been illegal for certain states * * * to not allow universal male sufferage . . .

        No, it isn’t, which is something we really ought to address.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Well, what can I say, you have a very reasonable opinion. And without sarcasm, which is refreshing. And I don’t necessarily disagree, on the merits.

        The only problem is: why is it so controversial? And for this long? It seems very unhealthy, when a sizable minority believes that a law in their country approves of a murder. A big problem, and no harmony.

        • Malaclypse says:

          A big problem, and no harmony.

          Savita Halappanavar is no longer a threat to harmony, I suppose.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            If not for Roe v. Wade, there would be no political conflict in the United States. Fascinating.

            This is like Althouse’s arguments that Glenn Beck’s arguments must be unanswerable, otherwise he wouldn’t have a job.

            • sharculese says:

              She gives the same level of deference to Rachel Maddow, I trust?

              • Lee Rudolph says:

                Nonono! Beck’s job was won, and is maintained, fair and square out there in the marketplace. Maddow is clearly subsidized by Moscow Gold George Soros and other cosmopolitan Fifth Columnists boring from within.

            • Data Tutashkhia says:

              Well, Roe v. Wade is the topic of this thread. You criticized Bloix, I agreed with him. What does it have to do with other, different political conflicts? Did you expect me to come up with a universal theory of all politics, with a formula that resolves them? Right here, in this comment thread? Sure, all right, I’ll do my best.

      • Johnny Sack says:

        Exactly. This is why I hate the democracy trolling. Reproductive rights are fundamental rights. People who want to roll back reproductive rights should be treated with the same amount of respect as those who want to roll back free speech, due process, et al: utter contempt and condemnation.

    • Johnny Sack says:

      I don’t understand. I don’t like when people discuss democracy as if we are supposed to respect every perspective and have a permanent conversation on every issue, and certainly not as though Congress is the ultimate arbiter of democracy. You vote for your President, who nominates judges. Those judicial nominees are confirmed by elected Senators. You see where this is going?

      Anyway, this “real democracy” trolling is always endless. If we did this through Congress we’d hear the same thing we heard about Obamacare- ramming it down our throats. Because something passing both houses of Congress is somehow illegitimate. if we could ram an expansive reproductive rights bill through Congress LBJ-style (and I mean LBJ the legislative genius not the President) I would do it, religious fanatics’ opinions be damned. Reproductive rights are non-negotiable and not subject to referendum. If the courts are the faster avenue to less suffering in the aggregate I’m all for it.

      • Data Tutashkhia says:

        Congress is shit. I’m talking about the concept of democracy: ‘consent of the governed’, ‘of the people, by the people…’, this sort of thing.

        When 20% of your fellow citizens believe that your government is sanctioning murders, and millions (or whatever the number) of these murders are indeed committed every year, by perpetrators who get paid for it and are protected by the police, then your democracy (in the conceptual sense) has a serious, serious problem. That is not like some minor disagreement about tax rates or budget priorities, do you understand what I’m saying?

        • Malaclypse says:

          Shorter Data: democracy only works if the majority surrenders pre-emptively to the minority of people who are thugs.

  15. Shakezula says:

    Yeah, I’ve heard these your parade, let me piss on it; that victory sure is Pyrrhic; if only you dumb bitches/darkies/homos had done it the right way arguments about every civil rights advance that has come down through court decision.

    “Now seeee? You made things worse for yourselves by pushing it through the courts! You should have just waaaaited!”

    (And why make abortion the defining point? Why not Griswold?)

    It makes me want to put my dainty Frye boots up someone’s arse and I really like my Frye boots.

    What kind of psycho do you have to be to stand up and say “It would have been better to prolong injustice and suffering because I believe it would have resulted in a long term strategic benefit”? Not a little psycho. Or at least running a severe empathy deficit. Now, in my experience, the person making the argument would not suffer if the status quo had been upheld, but still a few seconds rational thought would lead a rational person to conclude, things sucked and needed to be fixed.

    Also too – I initially read the headline as Those Contractions

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      This is exactly right. Somehow, there’s never a right way to for disadvantaged people to advance their rights.

      • gmack says:

        Yep. I mean, there is a more defensible (not to say a good one!) radical critique of Roe, which for instance, Wendy Brown developed. In an exchange with Kenneth Baynes, Brown criticized the appeal to privacy rights, She argues that the notion of privacy, while effective in establishing abortion rights, tends to depoliticize and obscure ongoing gender injustices, and it also tends to erase the ways in which privacy tracks privilege (so that wealthy and urban women gain access to abortion rights, but others do not, and for various reasons a privacy discourse is not useful in highlighting this issue). As I say, I think this line of criticism potentially highlights some useful issues (not entirely, of course), but Brown in no way suggests that this kind of critique implies that we would be better off abandoning appeals to privacy or that it would be better to Roe in order to mobilize a super-awesome mass movement.

    • witless chum says:

      Ladies, smash your fetters! Free yourself from the chains of Supreme Court decision. Allow your uterus to be perforated for freedom! Follow me to glory!

      Why aren’t any of you following me?

    • Bloix says:

      Um – a psycho like Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

      “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested Friday that her predecessors on the high court mistimed the milestone 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

      “It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far too fast,” Ginsburg told a symposium at Columbia Law School marking the 40th anniversary of her joining the faculty as its first tenure-track female professor….

      “The court made a decision that made every abortion law in the country invalid, even the most liberal,” Ginsburg said. “We’ll never know whether I’m right or wrong … things might have turned out differently if the court had been more restrained.”"

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/ruth-bader-ginsburg-roe-v-wade-gay-marriage_n_1269399.html

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Do you know who was both wrong on this point and not actually arguing against extensive Supreme Court intervention in 1973? Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

        • Shakezula says:

          I know, it’s like he thinks that if he can find some person agrees with him that will validate the fricking argument.

          Dude, honestly, it isn’t that you’re making this argument, it is that the argument you’re making is 100% pure bullshit.

          It sucks no matter who makes it. You, Obama, Ginsberg, Mandela, the Great Fucking Pumpkin. If Lincoln, King & Gandhi rose from the motherfucking grave and sang this damn thing in three-part harmony it would Still. Fucking. Suck.

          • Bloix says:

            See, I personally believe that arguments from authority have merit. I quoted Ginsberg to demonstrate that a person who cannot be ignored disagrees with you. And your response is to say, fuck, suck, shit. You can’t expect anyone to be persuaded by that sort of argument.

            Obviously, If Bloix says something, you’re free to disregard it. What is Bloix? A nonsense syllable. But if Ruth Bader Ginsberg says something (or Lincoln, Mandela, King, or Gandhi), then you have an obligation to read what she has to say and consider whether perhaps you are mistaken. You can reject what she thinks, of course, but first you have an obligation to study what she says and think with an open mind about whether perhaps she understands something that you don’t.

            If you’re unwilling to do that, no one can force you to. But you should understand that putting. Periods. Between. Your. Words. Doesn’t substitute for reasoned argument.

            • Shakezula says:

              Only if I subscribe to some theory that there is a strict hierarchy of opinion on such matters and to some people I must automatically bow and admit they are Right and I am Wrong.

              I’m a lapsed Catholic. Once you decide “I don’t care if I’m going to hell for not believing this bullshit, I refuse to believe this bullshit,” snapping one’s fingers at Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a particular issue is a fucking doodle.

        • Bloix says:

          Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the Thurgood Marshall of the the women’s movement. Among other landmark cases, she argued Reed v Reed, which established the right of women as a class to the the protections of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. There isn’t a lawyer or judge in the country who has done more for women’s rights than Ginsburg.

          I’m not quoting Ginsburg to persuade you that I’m right. I’m quoting her to show that my position is well within the mainstream of liberal feminist legal and political thought.

  16. Shakezula says:

    Shorter Blox:

    OPPRESSION IS EMANCIPATION.

    • Bloix says:

      A reference to 1984 is appropriate here. But this is the wrong one. What you’re looking for, I think, is two minutes of hate.

      • Shakezula says:

        I am so not surprised you’re a professional butthurtist.

        Now, a rational person might read the comments here and ask “Could suggesting people would be better off without certain rights in fact be sort of irritating, especially to those who are directly impacted by said rights?” Such a person might even start to suspect their theory needs work.

        You ain’t rational. I suspect you are, perhaps unintentionally, wicked.

  17. J dubs says:

    I have not read through all the comments but one thing to remember is lack of access already. I am no lawyer, but my understanding of de jeure and de facto is that the first is by law and the second is by fact. Abortion is de facto illegal in Texas. We have 254 counties in Texas and the number of counties with abortion providers is less than 20. Many of those counties only have one or two providers. As we know, a great deal of abortion providers are much older than other health care professionals.

    Anti-choice forces have been able to have their cake and eat it too. They get to continually rail against abortion, focus on individual procedures, make it nearly impossible for women to get an abortion (or preventative care, or sex education or contraception or…) while not suffering the consequences of making it illegal.

    Yes, it may be cavalier to say “make them get rid of it” but the Social Security analogy doesn’t work, simply because Social Security has not been so limited over the years to be virtually non-existent.

    There are no good choices, only bad ones. End abortion (or leave it to the states) once and for all, or let the drip, drip, drip approach strangle a woman’s right to choose until it is in an irreversible coma. The bad ones that put the bad guys in the worst position in the short run and likely bring the most allies in the long run is probably to let them go and overturn it.

    • Malaclypse says:

      The bad ones that put the bad guys in the worst position in the short run and likely bring the most allies in the long run is probably to let them go and overturn it.

      That would be heightening the contradictions, yes. Did you even read the post?

  18. [...] for that fantastic Michael Bérubé link—go ahead, click on it!—to Scott Lemieux, LGM Share this:Like this:Like [...]

  19. [...] effect of public opinion on public policy. This is one of the really key problems with the “Roe was counterproductive” argument. The assumption is that because outright bans on abortion are unpopular in most states, they were [...]

  20. [...] would be up at least 20%, and isn’t that better than food stamps anyway? — and there really are people who believe that it would have been better had abortion in most states well after 1973 because [...]

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