The current Supreme Court is pilloried for being Right Wing simply because a majority of justices are originalists who believe the Constitution should be interpreted strictly according to how it would have been understood by the framers. Labeling such a proclivity as Right Wing is belied by the thinking of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (as discussed in my previous blog “Scarecrow and Tin Man”). Although she was pro-choice Ginsburg didn’t like Roe v. Wade because it hijacked the legislative process. Perhaps jurists like RBG and the justices who overruled Roe last year all have a Them’s the Rules gene that accounts for their tendency to stick to the rubrics. Perhaps it’s their career-long devotion to Constitutional Law. Whatever their motivations, if their approach had held sway in 1973 it could have benefited the average citizen in ways you don’t need a love affair with law to appreciate.
We are one nation made up of 50 individualistic states. Each has its own flower: in Louisiana, the Magnolia, and in Massachusetts the Mayflower (no surprise there). State birds: Hawaii, the Hawaiian goose, or nēnē (familiar to those who do crossword puzzles); the common loon is Minnesota’s state bird (this shall pass without comment). State nicknames include Arizona, the Grand Canyon State; New York, the Empire State (this references the Empire State Building not possible expatriate Hapsburgs on the Upper West Side) and Wyoming, the Equality State (because it was the first one to grant women the right to vote). There are state songs too: “Yankee Doodle” in Connecticut; Florida’s is colloquially known as “Old Folks at Home” (no surprise there). New Jersey is the only state without a song. What? Home of Sinatra, Springsteen, and The Four Seasons! Perhaps it’s a case of feuding fan clubs that prevents N.J. from choosing something from those respective repertoires.
Every state and its people have an identity, and it runs deep. I have lived in New York City for so long I consider myself a Manhattanite, but in my heart, I still think of myself as a Jersey Girl because that’s where I grew up. Politicians and policymakers tend to come from the state that they represent. Oh, we have had some carpet baggers (Hillary Clinton comes to mind) but by and large they hail from the state they work for, and they care deeply for its people. They identify with and feel responsible for their fellow Iowans, Nebraskans, Vermonters, et al. To be sure greed and self-serving ambition can get in the way—they don’t call it the swamp for nothing—but even I’m not so cynical (and I’m pretty cynical) as to say that’s the whole story all the time, especially locally. Knowing that your actions can affect your immediate neighbors, your family, and your family’s neighbors, is an incentive to be circumspect.
If abortion legislation had remained at the state level, it would have been on local politicians and policymakers’ plates. Instead, the federal government took over. Can you blame local authorities for feeling: The feds are in charge, there’s nothing we can do about it, and it’s not like we don’t have plenty else to do! There’s maintaining roads and bridges, raising bond issues for new hospitals, revamping the state boards of Regents for the betterment of our children, etc. etc., etc. And so, they focused on things they could do rather than on things they had no say in. If abortion were not only a state’s choice, but also its responsibility, authorities would have paid more attention to how it affected their women, and their men: Let’s do follow-ups to see how people fare after abortion both physically and emotionally and have outreach programs accordingly. Are there long-term effects? What happens when a woman’s first pregnancy (or pregnancies), ends in abortion? Can it affect a subsequent pregnancy she decides to keep? Does it affect breast cancer rates? Do follow-up studies show an increase in depression? What societal changes are taking place with our men and women? Are they becoming callous? How does the specter of abortion affect children? Who do kids relate to more, the grown-ups and their “rights,” or the babies and their vulnerability? Has anyone ever asked them? Does how far along the woman is when she has an abortion matter, physically, emotionally and ethically? Let’s be conscientious about the issue of limits.
Who’s minding the store? The Feds sure weren’t. If abortion had remained on the state level it would not have had the effect on presidential elections that it did. For a long time, abortion was the third rail of politics; “pro-life” meant being personally opposed but accepting its legality or being doomed at the starting gate. The only reason Donald Trump got away with touching the third rail was because the unofficial, yet crucial element of his campaign platform was the stranglehold political correctness had gained on our country. Taxes, national security and the economy are issues that both candidates always address, but the political correctness issue eclipsed everything, including Trump’s troublesome personality. Now that abortion needn’t be a part of national politics, conservative issues like fiscal restraint won’t have that albatross hanging around their neck anymore, which is why Democrats work so hard to keep the emotions roiling, claiming ad nauseum that “abortion is healthcare,” citing conditions like gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes, which can occur in any pregnancy. According to their formula, if the woman wants the baby she qualifies for treatment, if she doesn’t, she qualifies for abortion.
Let me be clear, I believe the promotion of abortion is the saddest thing to have ever happened to my country. Disregard for life in the womb is contemptible; there isn’t anything remotely feminist about it. If those “stuffy” originalists and their penchant for following the rules had won the argument in Roe v. Wade, some of the collateral damage of the last 50 years might have been minimized. And this recent trend of abortion activists characterizing pregnancy as a disease? It’s not just to connect it to “health care,” it’s a cloying attempt to appropriate the affirmative defense rule, i.e., that killing in self-defense is morally justified. If state-by-state scrutiny had prevailed and all aspects of abortion were under continuous review, it wouldn’t be so easy for women to embrace the delusion that they have a constitutional right to kill when they are not in imminent danger. It was all a massive deception.