348 Comments
Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

This is one situation where I think spreading information – just factual information – might also be very helpful. In my experience, many people who have not been a childbearing age woman have never heard of an ectopic pregnancy, don’t know that miscarriage requires surgical removal of the fetus (when I was younger, I thought it just sort of bled out), don’t realize that women’s bodies expel embryos ALL the freaking time, etc. people also don’t understand how many fetal development problems are incompatible with life. I’m not talking about down syndrome, I’m talking about fetuses that don’t have lungs or half their brain. Does anyone remember Andrew Sullivan‘s (yes, I know he’s very controversial these days) series where he collected stories of late term abortions? He went from thinking they were abhorrent to thinking they might be the most justifiable of all abortions.

We don’t really talk about these things. I think now we need to. The trigger law in my state has zero exceptions, but I don’t honestly think even most Republicans would want to force women to continue with an ectopic pregnancy if they understood what it was. Time to make this stuff common knowledge.

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Life of the mother is always an acceptable reason. It's self defense

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I'm wondering if women in states like yours have been secretly getting abortions all along, while the general populace just thinks the kids are being really good and that the women and girls are mostly too virtuous for out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Now maybe general awareness of the consequences of unplanned pregnancies and un-prepared-for births will start increasing as families and communities find themselves with responsibilities for kids growing up in harsh circumstances.

A Politico article today reminds us of the difference between the employed, self-sufficient "settled" working class and the "hard-living" folks. Unwanted pregnancies undoubtedly span both sides of the fence due to, well, basic human nature. Now, the "settled" families may find themselves dealing with more babies than they've come to regard as "normal", along with more personal stories about not-quite-ready parents. The impact of Roe over the past fifty years has perhaps been invisible in these communities. Only the grandparents and great-grandparents remember the days before Roe.

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I have no doubt that happens. I’ve heard there’s a big illegal trade in abortion pills in Mexico, and God knows drug dealers manage to get every other kind of pill to people who want it. And of course, there are other ways that women found before Roe and have probably used for thousands of years.

I think you are spot on about the role of memory, or rather, the lack of it.

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I have no doubt that the reliance on abortion pills will skyrocket, and women will use them past the point of efficacy, and will avoid the requisite follow-up ultrasound regardless of when they use them, and we will see deaths- too many deaths. Not from wire hangers or Lysol, but from pills that are completely safe if used under medical supervision. Maybe I am overreaching but I desperately hope we can protect access to medical abortion (through inter-state mail) and the associated follow up healthcare, even if we lose access to surgical abortions in large swaths of the nation.

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In terms of “posting is praxis” tactics, I think we all need to avoid the temptation to critique suboptimal messaging from our pro-choice compatriots. E.g., if someone you follow quote tweets a maximalist pro-choice message with an explanation of how that is alienating to moderates, I think it’s best to ignore that QT; neither like nor reply. (Maybe even use the Twitter option “Not interested in this Tweet” / “This Tweet isn’t relevant” so that Twitter algorithms learn to down-rank similar tweets.) We should avoid intra-coalition infighting as well as minimize the salience of our less effective messaging.

Instead, our ire and frustration should be directed at the extremist on the anti-abortion side. We should raise the salience of their most extreme and counterproductive messaging. We should force the anti-abortion side to fight within their coalition, with their supporters of more moderate restrictions having to defend cases where they believe abortion should be allowed. E.g., in cases where both the mother’s life is at risk and the fetus is non-viable. There are anti-abortion extremists that would fight to criminalize that life-saving medical procedure and we should encourage that online fight within our opponent’s coalition.

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If you are trying to reach moderates, close twitter and open Facebook. Better yet, get really wild and join a bowling league or a pickleball group.

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I'm a huge pickleball fan here in Pasadena, CA. A lady who had heard that I play texted me to ask if I wanted to play with her and 3 others on a private court. When I said yes, she texted me details then finished with one final caveat: they don't play with Trump supporters. I was kind of shocked and disappointed. I responded that I was certainly not a Trump supporter, but that one of the things I liked so much about Pickleball was that you could play with a variety of people and put politics aside for a little while. Sad -- that's what I feel-- that people are so politically divided that they can't even stomach playing a game with those of the opposite political viewpoint.

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Do they play with self identified conservatives who don't support Trump?

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Good question. Don't know, didn't ask. My guess would be -yes, reluctantly. :)

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In Fayette county, Georgia, we never talk politics during open play. You might talk politics if you invite opponents for drinks after, but you only do that if you e played a person/group a few times and like them

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Ugh! When did declaring your political affiliation become a thing in every aspect of life? I don't want to know who you* voted for!

*by which I don't mean "you," Elana - I agree with your point!

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founding

But the same advice applies on Facebook. Don’t make the active threads the ones where people are arguing over whether some pro-choice comment goes too far, but the ones where anti-choice people are fighting each other.

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I'm all for intercoalition disagreement but the Twitter format makes that impractical, so yes never open Twitter.

Facebook is OK becasue you can actually say what you mean in a non-inflammatory way.

Personally, I almost never see anything on the Progressive side, most of my FB friends are on the Right and I try to respond judiciously to them, mostly around the idea that Demurrer more Left than they in fact are.

Rather I use FB as a way to put forward my own anti-"Conservative," anti-Progressive views.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

I think I disagree here. It can be very important to distinguish the bulk of Democrats/liberals from extremely toxic far left messaging. Otherwise, the most extreme stuff will be used to define us and make the cause look terrible. If it just seems like a fight between the extremes, there are many moderates who will simply stay home in disgust or prefer the right wing option.

See: “defund the police” poisoned a reformist message with some real traction behind it, lost us a dozen House seats, and in no small part stopped any progress on reasonable police reform.

That doesn’t mean sniping at every stupid tweet, of course. :-)

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If the context is IRL at a protest or something, then I think it makes sense to encourage people to be more strategic with their messaging.

If the context is on social media, then criticizing that messaging will likely just come off as being a concern troll unless it's someone you know personally (in which case, it's better handled through DMs.)

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Right, but isn’t the problem that engaging with those posts causes the algorithms to amplify them? Better to amplify posts you agree with, or to critique extreme views from your opponents

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Both sides generally want to downplay their most extreme voices and highlight the more moderate ones.

It's a sibling to the popularism thing.

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I agree but oy it bugs me whenever I hear folks on our side go out of their way to avoid saying "women," "she," or "her" with regard to Dobbs. (That's why Matt's bumper sticker is so great!) It's not worth fighting over this when the stakes are so high, but if we're trying to reach out to the larger population, it will act like sand in the gears. Save the trans fight for another day.

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Great point, a trap I often fall into…

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

I'm fairly neutral about the first piece of advice given here, "no infighting on social media", though I think people underrate the credibility built by taking on your own side. But the second piece of advice is deeply dispiriting, especially coming from a writer I respect: "We should raise the salience of their most extreme and counterproductive messaging". (More clearly, down-thread: " SM should be used to promote our best ideas and our opponent’s worst ones.")

Who needs social media algorithms to destroy our country? As I understand this advice, it promotes bad faith, erodes credibility, and accelerates polarization.

I get that these recommendations are just politics 101. Don't play defense! Associate your opponents with negative things! In the heat of campaigns, political operatives are going to do exactly these things. But when everyone starts thinking of themselves as political operatives, we become a nation of enemies. Worse, because most social media spaces are echo chambers, and most posts are addressing the choir, this advice contributes to the creation of cartoon villains that plagues our cultural landscape.

No thank you.

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I instinctually dislike the posting is praxis idea, mainly because I've become a grumpy old man already in my 30s and don't like engaging with social media except for vacation pics and liking photos of my friends babies (posting on a substack feels different). But, this is exactly what I'm turning over in my mind because I definitely know a couple family members who are very much examples of "suboptimal maximalist" social media posters. So, don't push back on their posts in public, but maybe private irl conversation on the side about messaging effectiveness? This person I'm thinking of has in laws in Kentucky - maybe they are a ripe audience for incremental, moderate pro choice messaging?

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Yes to avoiding infighting. Same goes for climate. There’s a body of research on the merits of “response diversity” facing challenges: j.mp/responsediversity

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Isn't this why progressives in general flip out any time any Dem punches left?

Why wouldn't this apply to defund the police, trans issues, student loans, or any other topic someone like Ygelias disagrees with large segments of the progressive coalition? There are always even worse stances on the right.

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Yes, and I generally think social media is the wrong venue to figure out intra-coalition differences. Instead, SM should be used to promote our best ideas and our opponent’s worst ones. When someone in our coalition posts a counterproductive policy or message, we should just ignore it. Any engagement will just enhance the reach of the counterproductive SM post and encourage further suboptimal posting from our interlocutor.

We obviously can’t prevent people in our coalitions from picking fights on SM with other members of our team over policy and messaging disagreements. But we can avoid amplifying that disagreement, which includes limiting the reach of the posts that we find counterproductive.

That doesn’t mean we can’t critique policy and messaging; we just shouldn’t do it on SM. Instead, articles, podcasts, and other longer form mediums can be used to compare and contrast different approaches as that longer form allows for exploration of nuances as well as gives us the space to demonstrate respect to our compatriots ideas that we simply disagree with.

Rather than using 280 characters to provide a sharp criticism of our compatriots, we can write paragraphs in which we empathize with their views, celebrate our common goals, and offer a nuanced comparison of approaches towards our shared goals. And should others choose to bring our disagreement to SM, possibly even referencing our longer form argument, we can simply choose not to engage. Let them shout into the void; we’ll just ensure there’s less echo.

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I assume this would work both ways? You'd be critical of Matt Y for his twitter feed but just as critical of others on the left hammering on him and others that are not "pure" enough?

Honestly not sure I'm on board with the idea that the problem with SM is that it's not enough of an echo chamber where no one should express any disagreement with anything anyone says that is at least directionally correct.

Where would these "ok we both agree police need reform but calling for abolition is a bad idea" conversations happen if not SM? Would be ok to be critical in a NYT editorial? Seems like that might hurt the "cause" even more?

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"There are anti-abortion extremists that would fight to criminalize that life-saving medical procedure and we should encourage that online fight within our opponent’s coalition."

Except...the anti-abortion extremists generally aren't online.

Or at least aren't online and debating/arguing about politics.

We are going to have some inter-party scraps, but they will mostly be at the state and local level.

Unless Dems try to pass a bill that protects abortion in the first trimester and with the normal suite of exceptions. Which y'all should.

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That's a good point. I have done that in the past and got piled on. SJWs don't care about winning anyway, they just want to rage, so the argument is pointless.

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Let me also combine points one and two for you- protest signs are praxis. I can’t fathom who was ever convinced to change their minds on this topic by seeing a bunch of posters that literally say “Fuck You.”

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I agree completely. I discovered that I still have the capacity to be shocked when, driving through rural Ohio, I saw a "Fuck Biden" flag on a farm. I can't imagine displaying such a thing, even with regard to the former president.

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No, but it may help increase anger and drive engagement.

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In this climate, I doubt it does anything but preach to the choir.

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I've spent the last few days sending text messages inviting women to attend pro-choice rallies in various states. I'm convinced this is worthwhile but I've noticed something that confirms Matt's doubts about the strategy progressive philanthropists are following.

The intro that the volunteers read before we start texting has a line explaining that "various groups" are participating in this project, which is under the umbrella of a general-purpose progressive textbanking org. I didn't think much of that until I noticed that the individual groups are all getting bylines, so to speak, in the initial messages we send. So depending on the luck of the draw, if you're an adult American woman there's a chance I may send you a text that starts off: "This is Jeff from Latinx Action Missouri" or "This is Jeff from Kansans for Transgender Justice". (I made these up but the real names are similar. They label the messages as coming from identity group lobbies, and *not* because the recipient is believed to be a member of the group in question.)

I messaged one of the moderators and suggested that we shouldn't be phrasing the appeal to sound as if it's aimed at any particular group (apart from women, obviously). But I assume there's nothing that can be done about this, because each of these organizations has pitched in money for the campaign and insists on having its "brand" put in front of voters, even when that's likely to be counterproductive.

Seriously: what can be done to convince donors that this is unhelpful?

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“Seriously: what can be done to convince donors that this is unhelpful?”

Presumably you mean unhelpful to the cause of maintaining widespread access to abortion. If that’s what you meant, why do you believe these organizations care one way or the other?

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It's possible that the employees of the orgs care more about collecting a paycheck than they do about keeping abortion legal. I wouldn't overstate that angle--of course they want to keep it legal!--but this probably is a factor.

I wasn't talking about the staff, though. I was talking about the people who pay their salaries. No matter how rich you are, it's hard for me to believe that you'd want to give money away unless you think it's accomplishing something.

I wonder if the problematic behavior from big-ticket donors mainly implicates foundations, not living billionaires. If you're employed to give away a dead person's money, you're subject to the same careerist incentives as the staff of the activist groups themselves.

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But a branding exercise is about the brand, not the exercise. In this case it sounds like they’re paying money to bask in the warm glow of the idea of protecting abortion rights, not in actually protecting abortion rights.

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But as I said: I think the woke-sounding organizations we're naming in our text messages don't exist. The "brands" aren't really brands at all.

In other words: people with access to a lot of money have decided to contact voters about abortion rights in the name of racial minorities, trans people, et cetera, and I suspect that the existing organizations speaking for those groups aren't involved at all. (Those existing organizations are *also* donor-funded and frequently out of touch with the communities they claim to represent, but that's a separate issue.)

I assume Matt thinks that big donors can be persuaded that this is a problem, otherwise he wouldn't talk about it so much. Spending money to feel good about yourself without actually solving any problems is a real thing, but it's much less sustainable when you're conscious that that's what you're doing.

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The thing is, I don't think the organizations we're naming actually exist or rely on small-money supporters.

That's not a problem in itself. I did some texting in 2020 for another pro-choice campaign that used a very generic set of aliases like "Taking Action Georgia"/"Taking Action Wisconsin" and only identified the real sponsor if the voter asked for it. The "real sponsor" was a dark money group, however, so knowing its name didn't tell you anything about who was paying for it. It wasn't an organization anyone has heard of, so I would assume it was funded by big donors rather than small ones.

That's fine with me. But using aliases with specific identity-group labels means that the actual donors, whoever they are, are insisting on that type of labeling. I have no idea if they're even major ethnic or LGBT organizations like MALDEF or the Human Rights Campaign. In this case we're not being told anything at all.

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founding

I think your advice is correct if it channels the current energy into something that isn't detrimental to the cause. But I don't believe holding lots of "My Body, My Choice" protests will move the needle much. "Legal Sometimes, But Not Always" is an accurate reflection of public opinion but would be a terrible rally poster.

Legislation, ultimately, will need to be implemented in the states. We've already seen trigger laws that make abortion easier and less restrictive than Roe adopted in Democratic states, and we've seen similar laws in Republican states that criminalize the procedure entirely. I predict politics (the slow boring of hard boards) will take decades for states to find a position that truly reflects their citizen's views.

The right has been at the anti-Roe game for 50+ years. They hold one big rally per year in DC but that isn't why they won. They won because of their work developing legal arguments, filling the judge pipeline with lawyers who agree, doing state-level politics and enacting small laws on difficult-to-fight issues (parental notification, late-term bans, waiting periods, etc).

I think the better advice is to channel the energy around the overturning of Roe into similar and countervailing work at the state and local level. Not as much fun as a protest, but ultimately more effective I predict.

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One of the worst things to happen to progressive activism was falling into the trap of relying on the courts and activist judges to win their battles for them. It seemed easy in the 60s and 70s but they were coasting on the legacy of hard-won political victories dating back decades earlier. While the progressive side lost the muscle memory of how to do grassroots, on-the-ground politics, the right, in particular the antiabortion movement, built that muscle because they had no other option. With the changing control of the Court, though, I suspect we'll soon be seeing judicial overreach from the other side, and the shoe will be on the other foot.

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I think it will be a long long time before progressive activists (and the rest of us) will look toward the Supreme Court to win our battles for us.

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"They won because of their work developing legal arguments, filling the judge pipeline with lawyers who agree, doing state-level politics and enacting small laws on difficult-to-fight issues (parental notification, late-term bans, waiting periods, etc)."

+1. As usual, I am flabbergasted that the left refuses to learn this lesson (across many policy dimensions). Even if you think you're "right" on all of the issues, your position counts for nothing without political power.

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I don't get this. Do Democrats fill the courts with secret conservatives like a reverse David Souter? The conservatives built the Federalist Society and we didn't because we didn't need to do that. Our judges, especially on the Supreme Court, pretty much fit our needs. We just didn't get enough nominations!

Did Democrats in blue states drop the ball on building protections for abortion in those states? I'm not fully informed but I can assure you that that is not the case in California.

Were progressives able to thwart the passing of restrictive laws in red states? No of course not, but so what? They're red states.

The question isn't about the past, when abortion was constitutionally protected, but whether our side can mobilize *now* for a demanding long drawn-out fight. I hope so -- we'll see!

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I don't live in CA so can't speak to what happens there. But it seems like restrictions have been piling up for a while now, as has concern about the status of Roe. If Democrats/Progressives/whatever had, like their opposite numbers, spent time accruing power at the state and local level, there might now be less of this. You might not care about abortion in red states, but I'll bet that plenty of people who live in them do. The left also (as discussed here!) hasn't done a lot to sway hearts and minds, either in this context or more generally with appealing ideas rather than reaction against Trump (still!) and the other mean, scary, bad Republicans.

In any case, I was trying to make a broader point, extrapolating from John from FL's comment. What if 2016 had gone differently, with a better candidate and/or campaign? Maybe then we would have had enough nominations! What if there was a larger, deeper bench of appealing candidates with good political experience and instincts? Even when the left technically holds power (like in DC now), they can't actually achieve much of anything owing to their internal disarray and the extent to which a vocal and uncontrolled-by-the-party chunk of the coalition has alienated mainstream voters, and it's still pretty likely that they'll be clobbered in the midterms.

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Well, I certainly agree that things would have been better had Trump never been President.

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Also Bush!

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I'm ok with Lincoln.

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Not saying you're wrong, but this is an incredibly childish way to think about the world. If you aren't seeking power, you might as well get out of the game of having opinions about policy.

At least the libertarians that Belisarius describes below are ideologically consistent. But believing that government should do a lot of stuff, while ignoring the fact that doing said stuff requires holding, and therefore winning, electoral office, is...dumb.

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See also, "We should ban all guns and confiscate them while simultaneously reducing spending on law enforcement, cutting sentences, and avoiding any sort of policing that disproportionately affects non-whites."

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I have come to despise the word "authentic."

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That might describe some leftists but I think the more common problem is that personality types who are attracted to leftism want to be visionaries and prophets who are ahead of their time and speak truth to power. That mindset is in great tension with democratic politics where you win by getting a majority of people to believe they agree with you. But if a majority of people agree with you, that suggests that you are *not* a visionary on the vanguard of social change. "Speaking truth to power" in a democracy means telling the majority of voters that they are wrong.

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They are the counterparts of the libertarian-leaning conservatives.

If you ideologically dislike power, you arent going to wield it effectively.

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This is what I’ve been waiting to tell my friends who are devastated. Once the grieving phase is over and the conversation shifts to strategy, this is exactly right. The realistic level of timeline and effort for progressives to strike back is “decades” and “huge.”

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

Timeline might be correct here, but is effort necessarily "huge" with broadly decreasing religious affiliation across the U.S. and the ostensible decline of the Christian Right (to say nothing of what it means that the Republican standardbearer is such a narcissistic hedonist as Donald Trump)?

It seems possible that "sit back and do literally nothing as religious affiliation dies out among the voters" might be an equally effective strategy if we're talking about a decades-long time horizon. Not sure what proportion of the opposition abortion could be best characterized as secular in origin rather than religious, though, so perhaps that's a glib hypothesis.

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That could be right!

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Just off the cuff:

“My Doc and I Decide.”

“Let the hospital Save My Life!”

“What about after they’re born?”

One of the likely consequences once the pro-choice movement gets tired of losing all the time is going to be an unleashing of “entrepreneurial” forces within it, I think.

People are going to be taking lines other than the maximalist position, eventually, even as the pro-life side gets high on its own supply and goes whole hog.

It’s the precise mirror of the LGBT movement post-Obergefell and I expect it to play out the same way. Just with a vastly, vastly higher human cost.

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Even as a conservative, the post-Obergefell LGBT stuff is annoying, but not as actually-harmful as a maximalist anti-abortion setup.

So I think that the backlash will be more swiftly corrective, and we'll settle into a stable state. (Hopefully achieve critical damping!)

I guess working against that, though, is that this will be rolling out on a state-by-state level.

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If you were a general in command of the pro-choice forces and your goal was to, once and for all, settle the issue nationally in your favor, you'd hold off on enacting a federal statute now, because it would immediately stand in for Roe as the new mobilizing catalyst for the antiabortion side and might well be struck down by this Court, creating bad precedent that will be hard to get out from under.

Instead, allow the battle to play out for a while state-by-state, until the antiabortion side has exhausted itself, alienated much of the country, and lost its strength and energy. And then pass a federal state to bring the remaining holdout states into line, which at that point the Supreme Court is likely to uphold. And that will be a durable victory; culture wars will move on to other issues.

Democrats can never publicly endorse a strategy like that, because it sounds too callous and calculating, but their inability to control the Senate might back them into that strategy without them needing to say it's intentional.

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My fear is that the progressive activists will see the failure to pass a national ban as a truncheon to beat mainstream Dems over the head with, on the well-grounded theory that their true enemies are not the White Russians but the Mensheviks.

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Yes. "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake".

Once the anti-abortion forces are in disarray, Dems could probably force through the 20 week protections (or more) instead of settling for 12 weeks.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

The trimester-limited-focus on this issue is maddening because the disparity between the practical human harms and the pointless political posturing is just massive. I feel like this is one issue in which I have a strong commitment to the maximalist position but it's one I arrived at only after considering the empirics, and on that basis it's also the position that I genuinely think should be the one that conservatives are *most* willing to give up rather than least.

Basically, no one goes through half a pregnancy and then decides to terminate it just for funsies. The tiny proportion of late-term abortions performed are more or less by definition going to be the heartwrenching cases that are terrible enough for everyone involved without the law making it incredibly worse. These are procedures that are presumably overwhelmingly engaged in by people who really, truly wanted to be parents and thus aren't even a natural ideological opposition class to the pro-life side. They want the kids too! Everyone would, ceteris paribus, have preferred to bring the pregnancy to term! You're just stacking legal punishment on top of what's already a tragedy - there's no behavior to disincentivize here! It's not like stealing where one party profits at the other's expense -- there are basically only losers of the game in the first place!

Between the fact that there's no party to reasonably punish *even if* you're generally against abortion and that these have always represented (for the same reasons) a tiny handful of procedures, the case for banning late term abortions seems like it's *by far* the weakest on the entire pro-life side and yet it's the line in the sand that keeps getting fought over!

I admit that this calculus could change dramatically were early-term abortions no longer legal such that late term pregnancy became a less discretionary status, but both before and after the overturning of Roe this has always struck me as the worst (morally speaking) place for abortion opponents to focus *even by their own lights.* It's basically nothing but aesthetics in one of the worst situations to let aesthetics trump either morality or practical policymaking.

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Just because something is rare doesn't mean that we shouldn't bother making it illegal.

If red states really start investigating every miscarriage that occurs after the abortion cut-off, then it really will be a sh**-show and as terrible as you propose.

And it will generate a significant backlash, so I think it would be corrected pretty quickly.

My side (I'm moderately pro-life) is going to have to learn restraint now that the dam has been breached.

But there is a lot of pressure built up, and so we probably will lose control of our extremists.

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I'm not sure how a 6th century Byzantine general would be aware of that quote...

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The Empire Never Ended.

Also, I'm immortal.

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The *potential* for pretty grave harms coming out of the woke/left consensus on trans issues is definitely there. We're talking about making policy that will envelop 4-5% of kids on the basis of the interests of 0.4-0.5%, precisely because the left is operating under the same delusion regarding gender identity as it does regarding "secret leftist voters waiting to be mobilized."

The danger with the current thinking on trans kids is that virtually *everyone* feels a significant degree of discomfort with their body during puberty. Yet the dogmatism is so overwhelming that merely gathering the data necessary to understand how we should respond to this is considered an attack on folks who identify as trans.

*That* there are teenagers who should transition due to gender dysphoria is incontrovertible. But what fraction of them? It seems, based on the very slim data that we do have, that most kids who presented with gender dysphoria as adolescents turned out to be gay and perfectly (or at least mostly) comfortable in their birth gender once allowed to express both their sexuality and a degree of gender heterodoxy. Is it really the correct response to hand all kids who feel this way for a few months puberty blockers rather than letting things play out long enough to ascertain which (large) fraction of them will desist once puberty is further along?

Moreover, once we get beyond actual gender dysphoria, there are a large constellation of conditions which have overlapping symptoms and presentation, from bog-standard body dysmorphia (also a hallmark of ordinary puberty) to depression and a host of food-related disorders. What does a rush to pharmacological, or, God forbid, surgical, treatment do to those kids?

How the hell the left, which is traditionally skeptical of profit motives and economic incentives, doesn't realize that there's a highly profitable cottage industry here trying to over-medicate and bodily modify a bunch of kids who likely do not need it... is beyond me.

I understand there is a trade-off, that every step we take that makes it harder to transition will harm genuinely transgender kids, but the numbers we do have so strongly indicate that we need to do it anyway. I don't think of NW Europe as a hotbed of bigotry, so I think we can look to how they handle these patients as a good initial step, and we all know it's immensely more small-c conservative than the American approach currently is.

But yes, even if the woke left succeeds in bringing that noxious blossom to full bloom, it still won't be as horrific as the maximalist anti-abortion position in terms of how many lives it grinds up.

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I’ll give it a second like, lol.

Though I’m disinclined to think back to my dynamics courses…

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New idea: all Republican Supreme Court nominees need to first pass senior-level vibrations.

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Would give a whole new meaning to "No law, just vibes".

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“What about after they’re born?”

Not to worry; Ross Douthat has this covered. There are several people on the conservative side (Douthat links to more than four!) who have murmured that maybe their side should take the idea of government-provided childcare more seriously. And I have not a doubt in the world that Douthat's vision will now sweep the Republican party.

(N.B. This is not a shameless attempt to get likes by using some keyword like "Douthat" per the research by Matt Hagy.)

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If I hearted for the nota, does that mean the nota failed?

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Oh no, quite the contrary.

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Coming late to the party but I’d add that the anti abortion crowd seems to have sat on their loony fringe, ie the murderous sort that attacks clinics and health workers. Perhaps this is a reflection of success in mainstream politics.

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The most important work at the national level is to prevent Republicans from passing a national ban. Perhaps they wouldn't try (assuming they take Congress and the White House), and I doubt McConnell is in favor, but large forces that no one person can control have been unleashed.

I fear the continuing pressure on Washington Democrats to overturn the filibuster and codify Roe. First, it will divide the party (we'll see how many Senators don't want to overturn the filibuster -- quite a few!) and, even though we can't let this paralyze us, we know for absolute certain that the Supreme Court would strike that law down. I.e., no practical effect.

We have to strengthen abortion protections in blue states where needed, build them into bastions for red state refugees, build donor networks to help poorer women obtain the support they need, and work like hell for as long as it takes to move red states politics in a more humane direction.

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'I think the better advice is to channel the energy around the overturning of Roe into similar and countervailing work at the state and local level. Not as much fun as a protest, but ultimately more effective I predict.'

It doesn't need to be either/or.

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One that that’s going to happen in the near-medium term is that states are going to have to enforce the laws, including the more extreme versions that criminalize and/or encourage vigilantism toward those providing support for abortion. This is going to lead to situations where state laws conflict. If I live in Illinois, go pick someone up in Missouri, and bring them to Illinois to have an abortion, then I’m breaking Missouri law and can be punished (or in the TX law, concerned Texans can sue me). But it’s not against the law in Illinois and I’m crossing state lines. That makes this an issue that gets settled in federal courts. Possibly taken all the way to the Supreme Court. How will these same justices adjudicate the constitutionality of contradictory laws between the many states?

So if you’re posting, ask those questions! What if I donate money to a pro-abortion org but live in a state where providing material support is punishable? I thought money was free speech? What if I am detained for travel out of state under suspicion I might receive an abortion? I thought the constitution guaranteed free travel between the states?

Asking these questions brings up basic civil liberties, *individual* liberties, that most Americans would not like to see curtailed and they are not specifically about whether or not there is a right to an abortion. This fits well with the more popular government overreach narrative. It also helps to amplify the dumbest Republican responses to these questions, as well as their public desire to go further and put the government’s hands down your pants for things like contraception and sodomy.

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Thanks for the tip about Kansas! Made a small donation.

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Question for Milan/Matthew: do donations actually matter in practice? Isn’t it 1000x more effective to just fly to Kansas, put on a flannel shirt and start campaigning door to door?

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I've had people knock on my door for causes I support, and my first thought is always irritation that I'm being interrupted in my own home. That "annoyance effect" can lead to door knocking actually costing you votes! [1]

Think about it another way: Coca-Cola has a very strong profit motive to get advertising right, and there's a reason they run TV ads instead of hiring a bunch of door-to-door salesmen. [2]

[1] https://twitter.com/davidshor/status/1532433024385699850

[2] https://twitter.com/davidshor/status/1532471141910077454?s=20&t=ELdYoMxhXidLq3S4C9Rhnw

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I thought that the relational network strategy had been a huge success? Doesn't that involve knocking on doors?

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Strange; my reaction is the opposite. I haven't had people visit my home, because I've lived in university housing since majority, but my parents' representative in the PA statehouse has visited while I was there. I was really proud of that, and it would have made me vote for her (were I eligible).

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Same!

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First trimester abortions are quite popular. Elective, second trimester abortions are very unpopular. The most persuasive pro choice argument is that women should not have their lives and bodies hijacked by a multiplying ball of cells which nature aborts half the time anyway. The most persuasive pro life argument is that later term fetuses look a lot like babies and aborting them with human hands feels adjacent to murder. Elective, second trimester abortions are an unlovely hill to die on. The money needed to get abortion pills to every recently pregnant woman who wants to end a pregnancy is not huge. Protecting early abortions, philanthropic provision of abortion pills and protections for medically necessary later term

abortions might actually increase reproductive freedom over the Roe baseline, where many women had abortions later than they wanted because of financial constraints. This would be functionally similar to much of Europe, where elective second trimester abortions are banned, but the state pays for early abortions. France is not a misogynist dystopia!

(I am not saying reproductive freedom is about to increase, only that it could increase if elective second trimester abortions were banned but early abortions were easier to get).

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First trimester, plus exceptions for rape, incest, the mothers health, and fatal deformities, is pretty standard throughout the western world. I am pro-choice and VERY unhappy about Dobbs, but this is a compromise I could live with. Actually, since I live in a red state, I would be over the moon to get this.

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I would add an additional exception for the underage (which may or may not fall under the health clause). My guess is that in many cases teens would more likely to figure out late what’s going on to have access issues etc. also they are more likely to be in abusive or coercive situations.

Also, most importantly, if we compare to other western countries- abortions are always publicly funded I believe. In the states people need to gather funds and that can take time. I’ll sign up to Leora’s deal+my additional exception, provided this is all fully funded.

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I'd add at least these:

- "within four (maybe six?) weeks of first realising she was pregnant" (not knowing until late is rare, but not unheard-of).

- fetal deformities that are not necessarily fatal, but which would result in a severely limited lifespan and a severely limited quality of life (like: will last six weeks in an incubator from birth and never reach consciousness or something; I acknowledge that this is hard to define)

- Some sort of exception to gather funds if the abortion is not free

- the relevant date would be the date of the first appointment, not of the abortion, so any delaying-tactic requirements can't prevent the abortion; with some sort of "provided there were no unreasonable delays caused by the patient" rule.

- An exception for very young pregnant girls (not just under 18, but under 15 or something).

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"within four (maybe six?) weeks of first realising she was pregnant" is an invitation for cops to take all your electronics and dedicate themselves to trying to prove the exact moment when you should first have 'realised', which is one of the outcomes that should be avoided.

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Fair. Should have thought of that.

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Why can’t victims of rape and incest abort during the first trimester? I mean if one is being held captive by an abusive boyfriend/uncle I get that, but that seems like a very rare situation.

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It probably is rare, but I would account for the psychological trauma of rape. Many women push it out of their minds, go on autopilot, and wouldn’t necessarily even take a pregnancy test. (This was not me; I must’ve taken 10 pregnancy tests in an absolute frenzy, but I understand that it happens.) You might have pro-life women who struggle mightily with the decision and need more time. And if the woman has been having sex with a partner, she may not know whether the baby is her partner’s or her rapist’s until later on.

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A huge number of women get abortions because they can't afford to carry the fetus to term. What about women who are abandoned by their partner or widowed after week 12? They should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term?

The benefit of the maximalist position is that it doesn't deny relief to tragic edge cases.

American abortion polling and practices line up. Most abortions (over 90%) occur before week 14; most polls show people want abortion legal in that timeframe. That's because people get abortions when they have to, not when they want to. Vanishingly few abortions occur after week 18; I couldn't find stats, but I'll bet they're all medically necessary.

The idea that society needs a law to stop women from aborting a fetus at week 31 because they couldn't get the color they wanted for the nursery is outrageous. It implies women lack basic moral intelligence. That is why I advocate for the maximalist position: it doesn't leave out any deserving cases and I trust women to make that determination without any limitations.

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> The benefit of the maximalist position is that it doesn't deny relief to tragic edge cases.

Unless it causes abortion to remain illegal.

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I understand this logic but I don’t find it persuasive. Abortion is not infanticide, but if it sounds like a poor argument in favor of legalizing infanticide (what if the mother is poor? Found out too late? It’s rare, no one would do it!), it’s not a great argument for elective late term abortions. And to Dustin’s point, if dying on this hill takes first trimester access with it, it does far more harm than good.

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Thus there should be language allowing for “exceptional circumstances” generally.

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Because not everyone notices they're pregnant during the first trimester, especially if they're taking birth control and don't get periods normally.

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For those who believe that the soul enters the body at conception, there can be no exceptions, including contraception that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting itself. (Modern science applied to Psalm 139 vs. 13-16.) I believe there are some more secular anti-choice arguments around the "potential" for human life, but essentially the rationale is religious.

In the meantime, society's consensus seems to lean more towards regarding the degree of development of a fetus as being a better guide. Many women do not make a pregnancy public until after about three months so as to get past the period when it's more likely that a miscarriage may occur (I'm speaking from impressions rather than medical science.) This seems similar to me to customs in some human societies where childhood mortality rates are high of not even naming a child until its third or fifth birthday.

Ironically, scientific knowledge seems to be trumping traditional, instinctual attitudes about pregnancies, making some less likely to support choice for those whose attitudes are different.

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Give it a few years. As much as I love savaging the Groups and the faux-lefty middle class, this is the one issue upon which hanging might concentrate the minds of the latter and snap them out of “politics as source of social cachet” bullshit they’ve gotten stuck on.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

One of the things that I think is kind of fascinating is how much the extremes are really interested in this fight as part of a larger fight about sex stigmatization and how much the middle kind of tunes that out and sees it as ala carte abortion.

Like I find the stigmatization in and rare hard to swallow because I’m probably in the most progressive 1% on all sexual issues. And when I see rw tweets retweeted they use words like slut and whore a lot more than anyone I’ve ever met irl.

I think most people see abortion as a kind of narrow issue, though I don’t have any data to show this for sure.

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"And when I see rw tweets retweeted they use words like slut and whore a lot more than anyone I’ve ever met irl."

Twitter isn't real. Or at least, Twitter isn't representative.

Also, Twitter delenda est.

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Most people don’t think too much about the underlying issues at all and just parrot whatever their side is saying.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

I see at least as many conservative women slut shaming people as incels. Actually probably more because there are just a lot more of them.

Nature didn’t make the pursuit of sex that difficult for men. I’m bi and have experience getting a boyfriend and gf/wife and it’s like just a little bit harder. Most of those guys can find all their problems in the mirror. I’m hardly some super Chad it’s just like don’t be a creep, have normal standards and put forth moderate effort.

I was thinking more of the it’s easy to not need an abortion if you never have sex till you’re married and want kids.

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Incels.

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The entertainment industry point is spot on. For years I’ve noticed and was troubled by how we only ever see women considering abortion and opting against it, or having one and strongly coming to regret it. It’s fine to have both these situations portrayed , but having *only* those, and not the many many cases were abortion can be a life saver (sometimes literally) even if no one wants to get tot the situation in the first place, certainly has a distorting affect .

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I said this upthread, but I was super disappointed that the creators of a movie called "The Worst Person in the World" (spoiler!) scripted a convenient miscarriage rather than allow their protagonist to choose abortion.

Or how about "Girls?" Those four women were total antiheroes, and Lena Dunham thinks of herself as a provocateur, yet in the entire run of the show, the two pregnancies among 4 women in their early 20's resulted in one convenient miscarriage and one baby.

Even on "Sex and the City," Miranda walked out of the abortion clinic and had the baby. I'll probably keep thinking of examples all day.

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Friends is a prime example: Rachel doesn’t even *consider* getting an abortion!

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Dirty Dancing being a unique exception to your rule.

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The abortion in that movie nearly killed a woman!

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Precisely because it was illegal and done via backchannel

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"Obvious Child" is a fairly rare exception to this; I recommend it (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/obvious_child).

Maybe now with the "Marcel the Shell" movie getting lots of love, other Jenny Slate movies like this one will get a second look.

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Protest is good if it draws new people into a social movement and transforms them from bystanders into activists. Protest is irrelevant if it draws the same old, same old activists who protest everything. When I was in college, back in the 1980s, the latter was more common than the former.

Protest also helps frame issues and introduces new ways of looking at the world. Occupy Wall Street didn't actually produce any concrete achievements but it did get us talking about the 99%, etc..

I would argue that the most successful protest campaigns focus on securing some concrete achievements while at the same time serving as a vehicle of mobilization and framing. For example, MLK's Birmingham campaign hoped to desegregate businesses in the city while at the same time illustrating the inhumanity of the segregated South. It actually succeeded on both fronts. While the economic benefits were somewhat limited, the images of cops attacking young people with fire hoses and dogs captured the inhumanity very well. In either case, King could claim both tangible and intangible success in such an instance.

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I don't know why more progressives don't study MLK's civil rights model...

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Probably they don’t like the commitment to discipline: Strict good behavior, dressing well, etc.

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Not just a left wing thing, if you’ve ever seen a right wing protest and all the confederate flags. I think it’s just the personality that’s drawn to protesting

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This is why protesting in Washington or San Francisco is pointless. Protesting in Alabama or Missouri though might be worthwhile.

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Maybe. I live in Oklahoma, and 700 people protested this past weekend in OKC RE: Roe. I have no idea whether our politicians cared. Roe didn't seem to impact voter turnout for the Democrats. We just had state primaries on Tuesday, and over 100,000 more Republicans participated than did Democrats/Independents. We'll find out in November, I guess....

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founding

Please, please don't encourage Hollywood to weave abortion rights into movies and shows. We need SOME areas of life without politics, lecturing and divisiveness.

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Abortions are not “ politics, lecturing and divisiveness” they are a part of real life. Not everyone wants to watch only fantasy all the time (though those movies have a place too).

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"keep politics out of x" usually means "keep only my politics in x"

I do feel shows often drop in politics incredibly crudely, but I think those are just poor shows. For example, Apple's drama about space exploration seems to have run out of plot ideas about space so started shoehorning in racial justice and LGBT issues. If done well, I think it's fine.

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Yeah, we need more movies with no politics like Maverick.

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Any depiction of women choosing abortion would be helpful to the cause. It's so rare.

Even the creators of a movie called "The Worst Person in the World" (spoiler!) scripted a convenient miscarriage rather than allow their protagonist to choose abortion.

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Even "Girls"! Those four women were total antiheroes, and Lena Dunham thinks of herself as a provocateur, yet in the entire run of the show, the two pregnancies among 4 women in their early 20's resulted in one convenient miscarriage and one baby.

Even "Sex and the City," Miranda walked out of the abortion clinic and had the baby. I'll probably keep thinking of examples all day.

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If "Conveniently Timed Miscarriage" isn't an entry in TV Tropes, it should be. ("Party of Five" and the movie "Sliding Doors" are other examples I can think of just off the top of my head in which a female protagonist who is planning to have an abortion is "spared" by a fortuitous miscarriage.)

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IIRC Parenthood (the T.V. show, not the movie.) had the teenage girlfriend of one of the main teenagers ultimately decide to get an abortion.

(I looked it up and my recollection about her decision seems to be correct)

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had the best sympathetic depiction of abortion that I've seen (and for a married woman who was already a mother).

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had the best sympathetic depiction of abortion that I've seen (and for a married woman who was already a mother).

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I'm pretty sure Gentleman's Agreement, Intolerance, To Kill A Mockingbird, Guess Whose Coming to Dinner, Gran Torino, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, etc. are all movies that made political statements at the time they were made.

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There has been a lot of silent and uncontroversial and extremely harmful politicization in movies forever. Just James Bond movies, for example:

- glorify torture and make it look extremely effective (I genuinely believe the fake effectiveness in movies drives a lot of the mythology over the effectiveness of real world torture)

- old movies have a very rape-y James Bond

And CSI’s real-world effects on the expectations juries have for forensic evidence...

Or on the right, you could say the same about movies with evil corporate villains

Anyway the politicization is already there and nobody minds. But I agree that unsubtle politicization is bad because it makes for shitty movies.

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Tony was almost willing to give up on getting back half of all sentient life in the universe to ensure his daughter had been born. Is that a pro-life or anti-life message?

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I agree that would require some skill. I'm also really not convinced that either the median or average Hollywood writer has the degree of skills necessary to fit that into a big budget "tentpole" film like most major Disney releases. (For that matter, given Hollywood's slavish devotion to "plot beats" the last 20 years or so for major pictures, I'm not sure there are many Hollywood executives who could even mentally process the idea of including it.) I think that if Hollywood decides to produce more films with pro-choice content, you're going to get films where that's a major focus of the story.

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Can you please provide more information about the formulation of the questions asked in the Data for Progress poll you discuss? In particular, why were respondents not offered some version of "I think abortion should be legal in some cases"? It is impossible not to wonder if the poll's architects were determined to reach the result of "a clear majority support abortion in most cases" by omitting a potentially more appealing choice.

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Yes, I’ve seen polls that distinguish between people who want abortion “legal in most or all cases,“ and “illegal in most or all cases.“ I found this spectacularly useless information, without a definition of what “most cases“ means. What a waste of time. I am in a red state where the most we can hope for is protection in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. These distinctions matter.

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I also don’t understand why the opinion of America as a whole matters when we’ve got 50 states and it’s the voters in each individual state that matter. The opinion of a yuppie in New York doesn’t matter for a legislator in Alabama.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

Because it can still be protected or banned at the federal level

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Now that the demise of Roe means Republicans have to put their money where their mouth is on abortion laws, how many more states are there where Republicans will effectively be shut out of statewide office unless they moderate their position and back abortion rights? It seems that over the medium to long run, splitting the Republican Party monolithic position and making it once again acceptable to support abortion rights and be a Republican in good standing will be essential to nationwide protection of abortion rights. This is what's happened in states like Massachusetts, Maryland, etc, where Republican governors are pro-choice. In what other states is this now likely? Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/25/abortion-gop-governors-roe-ban/

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Well in Pennsylvania the GOP nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, wants to ban abortion entirely with no exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. https://www.readingeagle.com/2022/06/27/future-of-abortion-rights-in-pennsylvania/

The likely GOP nominee for Wisconsin governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, said she would keep in place the state's current 1849 abortion ban which allows for a life of the mother exception, but would not add rape or incest exceptions. https://www.wbay.com/2022/06/26/upfront-evers-kleefisch-comment-abortion-law/

In Georgia, Herschel Walker, the GOP nominee for Senate, also wants a complete abortion ban with no exceptions. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/19/us/politics/herschel-walker-abortion-ban.html

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Those candidates are all still living in a pre-Dobbs world. It'll take some time for everyone to adjust. But maybe not even that much time. In Pennsylvania, for example, I think Mastriano was doomed before, since he's a kook, but he's really doomed now. Don't know how it'll affect Oz, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him edging back to his prior pro-choice position. But it only takes a few more states where that kind of moderation is necessary to win the Senate for federal law to follow.

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If they all lose in November despite red wave or if the red wave doesn’t come then yes- gop will moderate.

It if voters won’t vote accordingly then things will be much much worse.

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Agree. One election cycle is much too soon to draw conclusions about what the more lasting effects will be.

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Massachusetts and Maryland are DEEP blue states; PA/GA/WI are purple with a reddish hue. The Republican party there is not going to moderate on abortion issues.

Your larger point is intriguing though... David Frum has been saying basically this for years and regurgitated his thesis for Dobbs ruling: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/abortion-roe-prolife-movement-prohibition/661402/

Basically, his point is that alcohol used to be THE polarizing issue in American politics and putted rural vs. urban residents similar to today's debates. Once prohibition came into effect, people realized what a dumb idea it was and mobilized for repeal. I'm just not sure that happens with abortion... the majority supports abortion rights but the radical element has taken over the GOP. Republican voters have shown that they will support Republican candidates no matter how extreme, even when voting against their self-interest.

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Jun 29, 2022·edited Jun 29, 2022

"Republican voters have shown that they will support Republican candidates no matter how extreme, even when voting against their self-interest."

Tangential, but if you ever want to appeal to anyone that is even slightly conservative, don't act as if you know what their self-interest is better than they do.

Really this applies to any group.

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Fair! I'm just a rock throwing commenter on Substack though, I can spout whatever I'd like in this forum. :)

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Fair enough, certainly. =)

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I think Prohibition is a good analogy. Abortion became a polarized issue because the only way the antiabortion side could win was to make a bargain with one party -- if you give us one thing, judges who will overturn Roe, we'll give you a lot of voters. That was a good bargain for the Republican Party because the judges who would reverse Roe tended to agree with other legal philosophies and approaches that other constituencies in the Republican coalition also wanted. But those other constituencies - business, for example - isn't actually on board with medieval abortion laws. They were happy to get the judges, but didn't actually want abortion restriction.

It is very possible to oppose Roe as constitutional law but support abortion rights, and now I think we're going to see that illustrated in how the politics evolves.

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One suspects that they’ll also continue supporting Youngkin after his 15 weeks proposal. Mostly they just hate Democrats!

Party loyalty can also allow space to do popular things for the sake of getting wins. The particulars of each local situation have become very important, obviously.

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Can’t speak for others but the GOP in MN nominated an awful candidate who’s a terrible fit for the state. His entire platform is he is a doctor who thinks Covid is a hoax, basically, which is a very 2020-21 platform for 2022. And he’s taken hard right stances on abortion in a state where most of the conservatives are secular Trumpy conservatives who only started voting red in 2016. It’s going to be a very red year, but he’s the worst option the GOP could have chosen in the state (except possibly some guy who owns a shitty pillow company) and he might lose this winnable election

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I think that people need to know that some people do not share the notion that life begins at conception. Talking about Peter Singer's ideas might be a mistake, but for instance in the Jewish tradition life doesn't begin at conception and if you are in that tradition you should talk about it. Christianity is the default in a lot of communities, people need to here about other ideas.

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This is an important point. And I don't even think we need to go to other religions/worldviews. Women expel embryos (and miscarry more developed pregnancies) all the time. If you do IVF, you always lose a few embryos in the process. If each of these is a living human child, then our bodies are cemeteries and we are the bereaved mothers of dozens or hundreds of children.

The thing is, almost nobody actually feels that way in practice. It's a religious belief that has no relationship to reality. Even miscarriage, which pretty heartbreaking for most women, is not the same as losing a child. You're mourning the potential of a child, not an actual child. At a certain point in the pregnancy, that changes, but there's no universal magical moment that everyone could agree on.

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To be technical, "life begins at conception" isn't part of any traditional Christian doctrine either. That's basically a mid-19th Century development as I understand it.

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You might check in with Dana Fisher at UMD for protest efficacy findings. Also, Adam Grant had some useful thoughts on storytelling and conversation strategy.. https://adamgrant.bulletin.com/how-to-argue-about-abortion/?source=copy_cta

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"A good disagreement motivates people to reexamine their own beliefs with humility and curiosity. The goal isn’t to convince them that you’re right—it’s to help them realize that they might be wrong. A healthy democracy doesn’t produce consensus—it promotes critical thinking." <<<-this

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Yes indeed. Complicating the narrative is a key to unlocking paths to cooperation if not agreement. Was great that Adam cited Amanda Ripley and Peter Coleman's work (he runs a "difficult conversations lab" at Columbia). Had a great conversation with Amanda and others on this here: Pathways to Impact in Perilously Polarized Times https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP9-RVgTzwQ

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