My contrarian cred is established! Seriously, it’s a strange world in which any of my empirical analysis would even be considered controversial; as Ponnuru himself recently noted, pro-lifers who want to overturn Roe are not, in fact, irrational, and unless you’re trying to pitch an article to an editor who likes contrarianism for its own sake this is pretty obvious.
In related news, Publius has a good post patiently explaining another reason why majorities in public opinion polls do not inevitably manifest themselves in legislative outcomes. It’s important to remember that–although it will be spun this way–even if the referendum to repeal the bill is successful, it’s not a vindication of the anti-Roe pro-choice position in the least. First, the very fact that this legislation could pass despite not being very popular is a repudiation of the simplistic assumption of legislative majoritarianism on which the p-c-a-R argument depends. Second, not every state has an initiative process available. And third, the South Dakota legislature erred by being too principled. Although they fatally undermine the only legitimate justification for abortion bans, including rape and incest exemptions probably would have made the law safe. Should the law be overturned, future legislators won’t make the same mistake.
And, finally, a terrific article in Salon about the campaign against Mississippi’s last clinic. It needs to be read in full, but a teaser:
To Benham, waiting for a new Supreme Court justice to overturn Roe v. Wade is like being a German who heard and saw nothing. Impatient for change, he and his followers are determined to make Roe functionally irrelevant — the right to an abortion doesn’t mean much if women can’t exercise it. In their struggle, they’ve made the Jackson Women’s Health Organization their ground zero. They’re convinced that if they can close down the last abortion clinic in the state, where abortion rights already hang by a political thread, their crusade will gain momentum across the country. On July 30, another antiabortion group, Oh Saratoga, based in upstate New York, commenced its own seven days of protests in Jackson. Its Web site promises to bring a “summer tsunami against that state’s final ‘abortuary.’”
There’s also a lot of good stuff about the lies peddled by Mississippi’s state-funded “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” I particularly enjoyed this:
At Jackson’s Center for Pregnancy Choices, which gets roughly $20,000 a year in payments from the state’s sale of Choose Life plates, I picked up a pamphlet about condoms. It warns that “using condoms is like playing Russian roulette … In chamber one you have a condom that breaks and you get syphilis, in chamber two, you have an STD that condoms don’t protect against at all, in chamber three you have a routinely fatal disease, in chamber four you have a new STD that hasn’t even been studied.”
According to Barbara Beavers, the pretty, honey-voiced mother of four who runs the Center for Pregnancy Choices, as many as 40 percent of the pregnancy tests the center administer come back negative. Some of the women who take them live with their boyfriends, making a commitment to abstinence unlikely. But Beavers is unapologetic about her opposition to birth control, in part because she thinks a woman whose contraception fails might feel more entitled to an abortion. “They think, it wasn’t their fault anyhow, so let’s just go ahead and kill it,” she said. The best birth control, she added, “is self-control.”
But abortion laws have nothing to do with regulating sexuality! Anyway, the whole article is must-reading, and check out the Frontline documentary on the same subject if you haven’t already.