Elizabeth Warren is not afraid. Today, she set out a proposal to integrate Roe v. Wade’s provisions for access to abortion into federal law. She even framed her proposal this way: Congress Can Protect Choice. And she’s right. Congress can legislate on abortion; the matter can be settled through politics, rather than through a strained parsing of the Constitution by the courts. Political arguments can be made, and countered. Voters can go to the polls to support candidates who will vote for such a law, which will make any previous Supreme Court ruling irrelevant.
This is the process called politics. And America, for 46 years, has tried to keep abortion out of it. It’s encouraging to see Warren jump into the fray to bring legislative politics back to the subject — and to call the right’s bluff on taking that approach. It’s amazing it has taken this long.
demurred and Kevin McCarthy has disavowed it. On the other side of the debate, in contrast, New York state’s legislature just passed a strikingly permissive abortion law, and any attempts by some to limit abortion in any way is regularly deemed part of a “war on women.” If it is, over a third of American women want to wage war against themselves. (Pew finds no gender gap on the subject and puts the percentage of women wanting abortion to be illegal in most/all circumstances at 36 percent and men at 37 percent. Gallup finds only a trivial gender gap as well.)
There are occasions when courage and foresight by the courts are needed to nudge or even to push a burgeoning moral consensus. In due course, popular opinion catches up, and judicial activism seems in retrospect like judicial duty. Brown v. Board of Education is the classic example; Loving v. Virginia and even Obergefell v. Hodges fall into the same category, protecting interracial and homosexual marriage. As the Court led on these issues, public opinion tended to follow. State-enforced racial discrimination in education split the country in 1954: 55 percent supported Brown, 40 percent opposed (now, support is overwhelming). In 1967, a shade less than 20 percent of Americans agreed with Loving v. Virginia, but support for interracial wedlock grew to over 40 percent within 20 years and to 87 percent by 2013. In 1996, when the Defense of Marriage Act was signed by Bill Clinton, 27 percent backed gay marriage; by 2015, when the court decided its constitutionality, 58 percent did.
favored a total ban on abortion in a Gallup poll; today that number is … 18 percent. Back then, 54 percent favored a middle ground: keeping the procedure legal under restricted circumstances. Now it’s 50 percent. Twenty-one percent believed in 1975 that abortion should be legal in every circumstance; today that number is 29 percent.
So yes, there has been some change, with a small shift toward public support for abortion rights.
But what’s striking is how deadlocked the debate still is. Why is this? Some argue that it proves the resilience of misogyny and structural sexism, which treats the bodies of women as disposable and controllable. But it’s hard to see why that kind of structural oppression argument does not apply to race or sexual orientation, where opinion has changed quite dramatically. It seems to me that the deadlock exists in part because abortion deals with what many believe is the taking of human life — an exponentially graver issue than, say, gay marriage; and in part because Roe, rather than anticipating and accelerating a shifting national consensus, actually prevented one from forming.
I can see why the court acted, although I think it made a big mistake. Abortion involves two fundamental and, in this case, directly conflicting American commitments: to life and liberty. We hold this truth to be self-evident: that life matters. We should affirm it always. And I have yet to read a single argument that clearly delineates with any objective authority when a human life, once initiated, becomes a human person. It’s an invisible line that is devilishly hard to draw. So although I have no doubt that a fertilized zygote is human life, I just can’t see that life the way I see a toddler or someone in their 80s. But I can grasp its basic humanness. To deny this reality seems to me to miss one key aspect of the debate.
requires those seeking an abortion in the first trimester to have a three-day waiting period and counseling, and bans abortion after 12 weeks. Denmark bans it after 12 weeks as well.)
explained a state senator in the debate. This is an enormous gift to pro-choicers. It really does prove that for some, this is not about human life. It’s about controlling women’s bodies. If that is revealed in a post-Roe era, the momentum will be with legal abortion.
proposed today by Warren — or state laws of varying degrees of control. What we desperately need to do is take this issue out of the polarizing abstractions and into the nitty and the gritty of democratic give and take.
obstruct justice. The way he publicly toyed with pardoning Manafort and Cohen if they didn’t rat was instructive. Or he could simply reward loyalists and toadies: hence the latest pardon of Conrad Black, his criminal hagiographer, following the pardon of Dinesh D’Souza, a foul right-wing propagandist.
But it’s the war criminals that really showcase Trump’s character. Trump loves any kind of brute power over someone else, which is why he is so attached to the idea of torturing the helpless. He preemptively pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio before his sentencing for criminal contempt — a man who broke federal law for refusing to halt racial profiling and who ran a “tent city” jail which amounted to a concentration camp. In March, Trump intervened in a war crimes trial scheduled for later this month by coming to the defense of the alleged criminal, Eddie Gallagher. His tweet? “In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly!” Gallagher had been turned in by his fellow Navy SEALs.
explains the case:
The SEALs allege that Gallagher was an out-of-control killer who shot women and old men as well as combatants. In one case, he is accused of stabbing an already severely wounded 15-year-old to death. He texted photos of the kill and then reportedly held a re-enlistment ceremony with the corpse. In another incident, a sniper said he saw Gallagher shoot a 12-year-old girl in a flower-print hijab who was walking with friends.”
These are just two of the incidents involved. The file of his abuses is growing in number. This is someone whose past service his commander-in-chief honored.
accused of murdering an alleged Taliban bomb-maker, burying him in a shallow grave then disinterring and burning his body, Trump jumped in to prejudge the case: “At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder. He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bombmaker while overseas.”
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