Home / General / How Can We Forget Terrible “Centrist” Anti-Abortion Rights Arguments If They Won’t Go Away?

How Can We Forget Terrible “Centrist” Anti-Abortion Rights Arguments If They Won’t Go Away?


Bobo rummages around in his nostalgia file and finds some petrified vomit:

To: Democratic Party Leaders
From: Imaginary Democratic Consultant
Re: Late-Term Abortions
Dear Democratic Leaders,
Last week I watched as our senators voted down the Republican bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. Our people hung together. Only three Democrats voted with the other side. Yet as I was watching I kept wondering: How much is our position on late-term abortions hurting us? How many progressive priorities are we giving up just so we can have our way on this one?

1)Protecting the reproductive freedom of women is a progressive priority.
2)In any case, the answer is “none.” There is no reason to believe that any non-trivial number of voters are refusing to vote for Democrats because they don’t favor banning pre-viability abortions beyond some wholly arbitrary cutoff point. And needless to say, Brooks provides absolutely none — his argument is pure pundit’s fallacy.

I’ll skip over his fantasy history of Roe v. Wade since he’s made the argument before and I’ve discussed it before. Then we get this:

Let’s try to imagine what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The abortion issue would go back to the states.

Wait, what?

The abortion issue would go back to the states.

This is always an incredibly stupid argument. But it’s particularly amazing to see it the context of REPUBLICANS TRYING TO PASS A MAJOR FEDERAL ANTI-ABORTION LAW and Brooks ARGUING THAT IT’S WRONG FOR DEMOCRATS TO OPPOSE IT. “Abortion is properly an issue for Congress, but if the Supreme Court removes any protection for abortion rights, it will cease to become an appropriate subject for national legislation because…look, it’s the Applebee’s salad bar!”

The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates that roughly 21 states would outlaw abortion. Abortion would remain legal in probably 20 others.

That sounds…really terrible! Tens of millions of women living in jurisdictions which will force them to carry pregnancies to term! We should do everything we can to avoid that outcome!

There’s a good chance that a lot of states would hammer out the sort of compromise the European nations have — legal in the first months, difficult after that.

As longtime readers know, few disingenuous “moderate” anti-abortion-rights arguments infuriate me more than isolating term restrictions on abortions from European contexts and advocating them for the very different American one. That’s not how the law works. Anyway, as always, I offer Brooks a deal: come out in favor making abortions available for free at public hospitals, and we can discuss arbitrary term limits.

It gets worse.

Roe v. Wade polarized American politics in ways that have been fundamentally bad for Democrats. If you don’t believe me, compare the size of the elected Democratic majorities in 1974 to the size of the Republican majorities in 2018. Without Roe v. Wade the landscape would shift.

First of all, note the egregious cherry-picking of the post-Watergate midterm elections. That aside, we now get to the heart of Bobo’s fantasy life. He is making evidence-free assertions that Roe v. Wade caused the realignment in American politics in which conservative southern Democrats became conservative southern Republicans, because he would prefer this fiction to the truth that the realignment was primarily the inevitable outcome of Democrats becoming the party of civil rights. This is why there’s so much discussion by “moderate” conservatives about the alleged unique backlash produced by Roe v. Wade — telling yourself that “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards were a reaction to the Burger Court’s abortion decisions rather than the Warren Court’s civil rights decisions allows you to delude yourself about why Republicans became the party of Trump. Democrats abandoning abortion rights would be horrible for tens of millions of women while doing exactly nothing to change the basic alignment of American politics.

But, then, Brooks doesn’t care about the political fortunes of the Democratic Party. He cares about making it hard or impossible for women with less socioeconomic privilege than the women he knows to get abortions. That’s what all of these “moderate” anti-abortion-rights arguments have ever been about.

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