Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Is Roe v. Wade Bad for Democrats?

The vacancy on the Supreme Court brings the issue of abortion back into focus. Roe v. Wade may or may not be on the line, but that isn’t stopping people from arguing why it should be overturned.

Interestingly, some of the recent arguments against Roe have come from people claiming that overturning the decision would be good for Democrats. Is this just a neat rhetorical trick, or is their any substance in such an argument?

I think it’s possible that there’s some truth there, but it’s not coming from everyone. For instance, writing for the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto discusses what he calls The Roe Effect.

Compounding the GOP advantage is what I call the Roe effect. It is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment, to observe that every pregnancy aborted today results in one fewer eligible voter 18 years from now. More than 40 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973, and these are not randomly distributed across the population.

Taranto goes on and on trying to clarify how exactly Roe has hurt the pro-choice movement, but his argument really isn’t much more complex than: pro-choice mothers are aborting future pro-choice voters.

That’s a pretty hard assertion to back up with anything more than provocative logic games. It’s the kind of half-truth that supporters will agree with and detractors will scoff at.

Dean Esmay, a pro-choice supporter but Roe denouncer, makes what I think is a better argument.

When the Constitutional joke that is Roe v. Wade is finally overturned, it will also signal the end of the so-called "Religious Right" as a unified political voice in America. Most "religious conservatives" do not give a fig about taxes, free trade, gun ownership, or anything else: they vote Republican because of the abortion issue, period…

Some say that the end of Roe v. Wade will signal the end of the dominance of the Republican Party. They are probably correct. Not because its overturning will cause moderates to bolt the party--it won't--but because religious conservatives will finally be confronted with the fact that the vast majority of Americans support limitations on abortion, but ultimately want it to stay legal. With that one lousy decision gone, religious conservatives will no longer have a unifying rallying point that keeps them in the Republican fold.

I have often seen people argue that overturning Roe will bring balance back to the debate and result in a more unified policy and public. That idea has a lot of appeal. But I don’t know if it is right. I don’t know that over 30 years of fierce animosity will drain away if Roe is overturned.

That’s why I have supported and continue to support efforts to reduce abortions through initiatives that support the other side of pro-choice—the choice to keep the child. Abortion is nothing to celebrate. But reducing it cannot be achieved through laws making it illegal. Only through hard work undertaken in our communities and through programs aimed at helping ease the burden of bearing and caring for a child can we make a real and lasting impact on the number of abortions.


At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us start with two points that are arguable only by those who are hysterical on one side or the other:
- as a matter of Constitutional law, Roe v Wade is garbage.
- absent Roe v Wade, abortion would long since be legal in almost all states via the legislative process. And, therefore, no longer a matter of significant political contention.

So what happens if the Supreme Court at some point reverses Roe v Wade? All the focus of the abortion discussion/screeching shifts to the legislative branch. But as you note, the vast majority of American voters do NOT want abortion to be totally illegal. So legislators, who mostly are more interested in being re-elected than in anything else, probable make some restrictions on abortion but leave it legal. And those who vote to make it totally illegal mostly get voted out of office -- especially if they come close to succeeding.

At which point, the focus of the culture wars shifts to some other hot button that allows significant fund-raising from its partisans.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Jdeer165 said...

Stewart, I whole heartedly agree that the best way to lower the number of abortions is to emphasize seeing the pregnancy through. Whether that includes support groups to help new mothers or emphasizing adoption as the best alternative, I'm not sure. Probably some of both.

But this still is reactive, rather than proactive. The woman is already pregnant. Now you're just trying to figure out what to do with the pregnancy. Even better should be an emphasis on abstinance as the only 100% effective birth control method. After that educate people about the various types of birth control. humans have always and will always have sex outside of marriage and before turning 18. You cannot ignore human nature, as the Far-Right would like to do. But until you begin to eliminate the getting pregnant in the first place you will have a tough time reducing the number of abortions in this country.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Jdeer, you are absolutely correct. Preventing unwanted pregnancies is key. The effort to reduce abortions has to be two pronged. 1) Give the people the knowledge they need to prevent pregnancies. 2) When unwanted pregnancies happen, give them the assistance and opportunity to see it through

At 1:40 PM, Blogger . said...

I have always had alot of mixed feelings on the issue of abortion, and have been thinking alot about it recently.

I don't think the Roe vs. Wade movement was good for the Democrats, at least not everything Democrats made it up to be.

Either way, I think there needs be less regulation of morality by the government. Churches teach morality, not governments.
I think if we work through our churches, non-government schools, families, and communites we can reduce abortion without regulating peoples lives so much.

I am glad I found your blog, Alan, please have a wonderful day.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

As you know, the war in Iraq is someting that has been needed for a long time and Bush Sr. should have finished it back then by removing Saddam. Bush is a true leader, but can't get alot done with this partisan congress due to the dems and their following of antiAmerican policies.

Of course the libs don't understand how statisics really work, and is why they must make them up to suit their brain dead followers like Clinton did when he said in 1991-2 that the economy was the worst in 50 years. It was growing astromically after the small and predicted recession at that time and he knew it, so he lied to steal the election and inherit the booming economy, that he rode until he broke with 3 massive tax hikes that killed the economy along with raising rates to the highest levels.

Democrats are trying to claim that the deficit is bad, when during wartime you always run a deficit! As wars get bigger, so does the deficit. Simple stuff that liberals miss completely because they're too bogged down in details and can't see the forest through the trees.

Most don't even know what that means!

Did you hear about Kerry's grades at Yale? Worse than Bush's, Five D's!

No wonder that pompous SOB held those records back for so long. He is an embarrassment to the entire US Congress!

Hitlery is having a fit because she is being exposed for what and who she really is. An evil terrorist bitch who wants to destroy this nation and put in a communist government. Remember she was black Panther which was a terrorist group in the the late 1960's - early 70's. Hillary was responsible for the murder of several people back then and she got away with it all.

Always Remember, they (Liberals) say and practice the exact opposite of whatever comes from them! Everyone in the entire party is corrupt, and only out for themselves and the liberal groups that support them. They are truly satan's blind puppets.

Major Democrats are now trying to shut Dean and Hillary up because they are costing them even more voters. You're an apologist for Dr. Dean and his anger management problem and have to define what he "meant to say."

Imagine Mr. Bush saying those same things that Howie Dean or Hillary have said, and the crowd roaring with lusty delight. Imagine John McCain saying them for that matter, or any other likely Republican candidate for president, or Ken Mehlman, the head of the Republican National Committee.

Can you imagine them talking this way? Me neither. Because they wouldn't.

Messrs. Bush, McCain, et al., would find talk like that to be extreme, damaging, desperate. They would understand it would tend to add a new level of hysteria to political discourse, and that's not good for the country. I think they would know such talk is unworthy in a leader, or potential leader, of a great democracy. I think they would understand that talk like that is destructive to the ties that bind--and to the speaker's political prospects.

If Mr. Bush ever spoke this way, most Republicans would feel embarrassment. I would be among the legions who would denounce his statement. Democrats are half the country; it is offensive to label them as hateful, it's wrong. Even though we're torn by disagreements, there is an old and unspoken tradition that we're all in this together, we're all citizens together. It is destructive to act against this tradition.

One assumes all the media, especially the MSM, would treat the speech as if it were an epochal event in the Bush presidency, and the beginning of the end. They would say he was unleashing the dark forces of division; they would label his statement as manipulative, malevolent, immature.

And they'd be right.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

Wow could you have gotten more off topic?

At 9:38 PM, Blogger amba said...

I don't believe in deleting uncomplimentary or contentious posts, but you would be justified in deleting the long-winded off-topic rant from "BushCheney08," which isn't a part of any conversation. Or you could leave it on display as a specimen of rabid right-wing vitriol. Maybe someone will come along and give us a nice example of rabid left-wing vitriol so we can have a matched set.

On the claim that pro-choice mothers are aborting future pro-choice voters: Doesn't hold up. The NY Times ran an article a few years ago about how remarkably many surviving daughters of pro-choice mothers are pro-life. Why? Because, as one of them succinctly put it, "Any one of us could have been aborted."

I think I put a link to that story in the two parts of what will eventually be a three-part essay, The AmbivAbortion Rant. It's what one Quaker activist described as a "persuasionist" rather than a "prohibitionist" piece. Here's Part I, here's Part II. Part III will be about sexual conduct and pregnancy prevention. I totally agree with you guys that the strategy is 1) abstinence, especially from meaningless "entertainment" sex or insecure "I want you to love me/think I'm cool" sex. 2) Birth control. 3) Plan B. (There's an argument to be made that life really begins with implantation). 4) Early abortion remains legal, but the culture changes so that most women see it as a really, really undesirable choice. One of my arguments is that the law would not have stopped me from having my abortion. The culture could have, if it had told me the truth.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


One of the first things I read of yours was your discussion of abortion. It is elegant and powerful all at once.

I agree with your take completely.

As for the bizarre off-topic post from Bush/Cheney...I don't remove comments unless they are excessively profane or libelous. This one is just ditto-head tripe.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Sean said...

if roe v wade is overturned it shifts first to the state legislatures.

hello. There is this thing called federalism!

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


Is should shift to the states but given the way our federal government usually acts, you can bet there would be federal legislation proposed to ban it in all 50 states. I don't think that it would pass (or be constitutional), but I bet it would happen.

At 12:01 AM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...


And don't forget that Medical Marijuana was supposed to be a state issue too!

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Here's an interesting question:

Is there a possibility that instead of simply throwing out as a consitutional masquerade and giving state legislatures and interest groups a free for all, the Supremes may instead issue a ruling that still upholds abortion rights under a different consitutional argument, thus supplanting Roe altogether?

At 2:40 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

as for my earlier post, I saw a political blog, and I just posted about politics in general. heres what I think about abortion.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

" I stood at the doctor's side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant. The baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby's body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby's body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet. The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby's head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen."

"I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I have in fact presided over 60,000 deaths. There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists from the very onset of pregnancy" --Dr. Bernard Nathanson7

"I went up to the lab one day and on the pathologiest's table I saw what I thought was little rubber doll until I realized it was a fetus. . .I got really shook up and upset and I couldn't believe it. It had all its fingers and toes, you know, hands and feet. . . I never thought it would look so -real. I didn't like it." --Planned Parenthood employee 9

You see? Abortion is morally wrong. Many women that have had abortions go into depression, because they have realized what theyve done. abortion is murder.

"Killing the children from the ghetto through abortion or from sending them to an illegal war in Iraq.What's the difference?"

Heres the difference:

Abortion has caused 44 million deaths; more deaths than all the us wars combined. Abortion is the real issue here, it has to be stopped.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

oh yeah and dont dismiss what I say and just call it right wing rant; be open minded; listen to what i have to say

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The challenge in discussing abortion is to actually discuss it. For openers, no sane person argues that abortion is a GOOD THING: Education is a good thing; everyone should have as much of one as they can absorb. Have you met (or even heard of) anyone who thinks that every woman should make an effort to get an abortion? Me neither.

So given that every abortion is a tragedy (although the alternative, in some cases or to some people may be worse), how do we reduce the number? Well making it illegal obviously won't work -- it used to be illegal, and abortions happened anyway. So how about taking some steps to reduce the number of unwanted/accidental pregnancies? Anyone who is honestly "anti-abortion" ought to be raising the roof for sex education and easily available contraception. Anyone who claims to be anti-abortion and is not doing so is saying that opposition to abortion is not really their number one priority. But are they admitting that? Hmmm....

At 10:26 PM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

Everyone ignore bushcheney, he just goes around to other blogs and posts his crap, copy paste copy paste stuff. Don't reward him by addressing his crap. And certaining don't go to his blog, it will only encourage him, he's young and needs to understand what thinking for yourself really is.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger BushCheney08 said...

well I think that sex education will not help. It hasnt helped and never will. I think we need to increase the agencys and cia and private investigators and start cracking down on these people. put every medical clinic under government watch. Its a lot easier to have a "war on abortion" then say a "war on drugs" because abortion requires procedures and doctors and correct medical facilities.


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