People want the vast majority of abortions to be legal
Made a few edits to the charts (removed the "part two" from the first chart, changed the description on the second chart to reflect nuances in when exactly the first trimester ends).
Also, general reminder to play nice in the comments.
Schumer: “we are not looking to compromise”
The Baileys: 😞😞
I’m reminded of a progressive line: “When you're accustomed to privilege equality feels like oppression”. The pro-choice side got so used to reading their view into the constitution that returning the issue to the legislature seems like an apocalyptic threat.
I personally favor a pretty sweeping pro-choice position, but it also seems clear to me that there are strong moral arguments on both sides here. And public opinion here has been steady for a long time. And the legal argument that abortion is protected in the constitution is tenuous at best. And fighting over this issue has increased the politicization of the Supreme Court. I’m glad abortion is back in the hands of legislatures; hopefully they can find compromises most people find acceptable. Probably going to be messy though :(
I hope Democrats learned the right lesson from the "Defund the Police" narrative which is that one of the most effective political moves is attaching a terribly unpopular message to your opposition that they can't or won't shake.
"Louisiana just criminalized miscarriages. Idaho just banned contraceptives. Oklahoma is forcing women to carry dead fetuses to term. This is the world Conservatives want."
And the key is to not stop attaching the message even if they disavow it. Conservatives still talk about how Democrats want to Defund the Police, even Democrats that have explicitly said it's a terrible and in fact have voted for more funding. It was a plausible view of the left so it stuck. "Republicans want to make miscarriages a felony." Or whatever message sticks best should be an attack ad that gets used in every race in 2022, like Defund the Police was in 2020.
What's the last good example of the left saying "I'm willing to accept less because I want to win the issue?"
Seems like there is no amount of losing that will teach them this lesson.
“ When people are scared to lose, they make smart decisions.”
Here’s a mail bag question perhaps, but what are you seeing that I’m not that indicates the educated, urban-to-suburban base of the Democratic Party is the least bit “scared to lose”?
I have seen every indication that most of these people regard politics as a virtue-signaling luxury, not a meaningful attempt to govern. It’s not a vocation, nor even a pastime, but simple a casual hobby.
I fail to see anyway in which abortion limits will change that. These are people who can currently afford to pop across a state line to deal with any pesky issues and will be able to take a “weekend trip” to Ireland, Canada, or Britain as needed in the future.
Nothing that falls into the realm of “bread and butter politics” scares professional class Americans anymore, they have sufficient resources to avoid all consequences. That’s one of the fundamental problems we face in politics and I see no possibility of changing it.
Very sane and sensible newsletter. Hews closely to both public opinion, and to the actual law in almost all Western countries. Yet this view has almost no supporters among US politicians and opinion makers. So weird and sad.
"(t)he loss of Roe should serve as a powerful reminder to the college-educated liberals who control the commanding heights of Democratic Party politics that losing elections is really bad."
I've said it before, I'll say it again, but the fact that "the commanding heights of Democratic Party politics" are controlled by people who don't understand that *winning elections is their actual and only job* is stupefying...
"Eliminating Roe endangers abortion rights gravely, but also means the American people will be more exposed to extremist pro-life activist demands"
I'll make the bold prediction that repealing Roe will break the logjam and eventually leads to the pro-choice position becoming more popular, and then legal, over a decade plus time span. Red states are going to go absolutely nuts here- prosecuting women who've had abortions, brutally investigating miscarriages, in some cases prosecuting miscarriages (!), going full War on Drugs looking for mailed abortion pills, and also maybe prosecuting Americans outside of their states who 'facilitated' an abortion. The steady drumbeat of total insanity is going to wear American public opinion down. My read on the opinion polls is that many people are conflicted and don't have ironclad views either way. And let's be honest- the mass media is still a huge advantage that the left has. A decade of insane overreach, plus red state politicians saying absolutely nuts things, is going to be what it takes to finally swing public opinion.
In fact, I think Republican elites are more fired up about abortion than the median Republican voter. Even today, in 2022. Those polls don't capture preference intensity. I think a lot of people who vote R but aren't evangelicals hold surprisingly nuanced opinions on the topic
I think this piece undermines its own thesis in some important ways. The first part totally misunderstands what the draft opinion is doing almost to the point I wonder if Matt read it. This would be an axe to the concept of substantive due process which back before liberals became 'progressives' was a really forward looking concept worth defending. These throw away lines against judicial review are also poorly conceived. If the Supreme Court can never say a piece of legislation went too far or violates the constitution what exactly is it for? Are there any limits on what a legislature or executive can do? If there's no judicial review, who stops it?
Now, that being said, Roe and Casey really do make America an outlier in the West. I don't think that by itself is bad. There are a number of areas where we are outliers with respect to individual liberties and that's mostly a good thing. But if you want to win on a position that keeps abortion legal you have to be ready to defend where you would draw the line and why, which is what this piece totally fails to do!
To me it's very telling that one would be hard pressed to find a doctor to perform a truly elective abortion on an apparently healthy pregnancy past the around the 16 week point. That says to me what most doctors and most people, including pro choice people, intuitively know, which is that there is a threshold beyond which abortion takes on an ethical dimension it does not have in earlier weeks. In practice when it happens after that it is typically because of some kind of medical crisis in a pregnancy the woman intended to take to term.
The great news of course is that drawing a line around those points is both where the population is and would keep the vast, vast majority of abortion legal. Why not just defend that policy on its merits? It's probably what we're going to have to get used to doing and there's no reason to treat it like some weird, mushy, unprincipled compromise, which this essay does, even as it tries to defend it.
Great essay. Quick anecdote: my first child died at 9mo of a rare genetic cancer. We tested our next 3 pregnancies and fortunately all clear. But otherwise we would have had to have a 15 week plus abortion, because impossible to get earlier test results for this. The mutation was an early infancy, absolutely certain death sentence. point being we need legal late abortion not just to protect mothers health.
One of the things it's been interesting to see over the last ~10 years is how ineffective Planned Parenthood, in particular, has been as the judicial and political landscapes have shifted. To the point where many activists I know have entirely given up on them and there's lots of activist energy around abortion funds and pills-by-mail instead. I think this is basically right and that there's significant opportunity for popular stances there. It's one thing to say you can't practice this type of medicine in a red state, totally another to criminalize folks taking a weekend away in New England or California for personal reasons.
One point that's kind of obvious but that a lot of observers across the spectrum nevertheless forget is that when it comes to public policy, the debate about abortion is about criminalization. For abortion to be legal, you don't actually need a law that says it's legal. You just need an absence of laws addressing the topic. It isn't like, say, gay marriage, which requires an affirmative act of the government to exist.
Pro-choice liberals in reddish states really ought to shape their rhetoric around this. The standard line that pro-choicers tend to emphasize when they try to mollify moderate religious conservatives is John Kerry's "I agree with my church's position on abortion but I don't believe the government should impose that view on the whole country." That's ok, but it's a bit bloodless and they could do much better than that. Instead, say "Abortion is wrong, but I don't support throwing women and doctors into jail for having abortions. That's a bad solution. Instead, I support spending a lot more money on programs to help pregnant women, so that more of them will decide voluntarily not to have abortions."
I assume the "Let's send abortion back to the states" line I have been hearing my whole life from Republicans will soon go away.
National type bans are certainly in the works.
As always since the beginning, "States' Rights" is a rhetorical tool that is jettisoned as soon as it no longer benefits ones' side.
Conservative justices veto progressive legislation because progressive legislation tends to do an end around of state lawmakers or the Constitution. Like it or not, the Constitution has always given wide leeway for States to make their own rules. Progressives sometimes like that and sometimes they don’t. But they don’t take a principled stance on the system.
Hillary would have gotten 50k more votes with this position in the states she needed them and won. But she refused to back Roe and insisted on an expansive abortion policy. She rejected safe, legal and rare. She lost.
Personally, 20-22 weeks is the right number. Families should have the right to consider abortion in the case of fetal abnormalities. That’s a tough decision and one families may not agree on and a week is what 15 weeks gives you.