“Possession is nine-tenths of the law” isn’t an actual law, it’s an expression. It means that ownership is easier to establish if one has possession of a thing, more difficult to establish if one does not. For nearly fifty years, the pro-abortion front owned the debate because it possessed a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed their position. Now they don’t. For nearly fifty years, “Hey, it’s legal” was the remark that ended a discussion. Now it can’t. The legal outcome of overturning Roe v. Wade is the return of the abortion question to the voting booth. But the place that really matters is between the ears.
Without the dint of law to give it automatic acceptance, the old standby “It’s not really about abortion, it’s about choice.” goes wobbly when subjected to rigorous thinking. Unless a woman wakes up pregnant one morning without having had sex, in most cases she has made a choice, a poor one, perhaps, but still a choice, to have relations. Another hot button word is “control,” as in, “Without Roe, women will no longer have control over their reproductive systems.” Having no control over one’s circumstances is a terrible predicament. It’s the stuff of Handmaiden’s Tale lore and is being touted as the thing that will, courtesy of a united front of “suburban moms,” save Democrats from the projected Red Wave in the upcoming mid-terms. But there’s more than one kind of control issue in play there. A grown woman has the intelligence to know that if she doesn’t have sex, or is very conscientious when she does, pregnancy can be avoided. She has absolutely no control, however, over her skyrocketing grocery bill and what it costs to fill her gas tank. That’s entirely in the hands of an administration and its policies. The pro-abortion front is counting on mothers putting nationwide legal abortion above their families and their transportation needs, expecting that emotion-driven women will vote for pro-abortion politicians as an act of ideological revenge against “right-wingers” while budgets explode, and savings are drained. It’s an awkward position, one pro-abortionists didn’t suffer as long as an errant Supreme Court was in their corner. Now there’s more to weigh, more to consider. It’s between-the-ears territory.
State governors’ intent on creating abortion sanctuaries are adjusting their laurel crowns and taking bows for being brave defenders of what they’re calling “women’s basic health care,” while ostensibly magnanimous corporations are making plans to provide transportation and time off for employees traveling to abort. But will the average citizen of, say, Illinois or New York or California glow with pride when their state promotes tourism with brochures touting abortion clinics? Cheerful “Visit the Land of Lincoln” television ads promoting shuttle-bus service from hotel to appointment? How will ordinary people really feel about women coming into their state solely for this purpose? The Empire State of Abortion: How’s that for an inspiring motto? When Roe was in place ordinary folks didn’t have to ponder it much; it was the law of the land, probably enacted before they were born. Accepting it was a passive behavior. But giving the politically correct answer to pollsters or at cocktail parties is one thing, now they will be called upon to deliver direct action in the voting booth. And as much as abortion is characterized as being simply “a matter of choice,” or the breathtakingly imaginative “women’s basic health care,” everyday people know it’s actually ending life in the womb, and no matter where on the spectrum of when life begins one’s views fall, devious language is devious language. People know when they’re being snookered. Speaking of which: Will a nation grown suspicious of corporate culture buy into the idea that big business just wants to make sure that the ladies have “choice,” or will people know in their gut that the cheerleading is really about the bottom line?
Let’s talk about rape. It’s a horrific violation. According to different studies, the number of women in the U.S. who will experience rape at least once in their lifetime is in the range of 15 to 20 percent. The 2018 Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which measures rapes that are reported to the police, estimated that there were 139,380 rapes in 2018. The 2016 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which includes incidents that may not have been reported to the police, estimated that in 2015 there were 431,840 sexual assaults and rapes. But—fewer than 1 percent of all abortions are because of rape or incest. Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University College of Law who is an expert on the legal history of reproduction, says exceptions for rape and incest are much more “symbolic than they are relevant,” since they don’t apply to the majority of women having abortions.
Symbolic of what? What does the howling fury over “not even for rape or incest” really stem from? Rape truly is a loss of control over one’s reproductive system. By comparison, it makes complaints about being pregnant from women who chose to have unprotected sex puny. Do they hope natural empathy for rape victims will drift towards them somehow? Do they adopt a rape victim “identity” because in their mind a law that puts boundaries on choice (which is what all laws do) equals brute force? Or perhaps their pregnancy resulted from sex they didn’t want to have but they went along with just to keep their man happy, so it kinda sorta feels like rape. Well, abortion is no more a solution to that social ill than it is for actual rape. “No means no” doesn’t mean a thing if you lack the backbone to insist on it. There seem to be some rumblings in that regard, however, now that Roe has been overturned. Reminiscent of Lysistrata, the ancient Greek play about women who stop having sex with men in order to end a bloody war, abstinence was trending on Twitter in response to the Court’s reversal, and a number of pro-choicers took to social media to push for a nationwide sex strike. The women in Aristophanes’ play had noble aims whereas this looks to be just a power play, as in give us abortion or else. However, there does seem to be an undercurrent—a revolutionary re-thinking, perhaps, of “my body my choice.” Again, between-the-ears territory.
Ghoulish governors, corporate vultures, and an ultimately anti-feminist culture gasping for relevance are but the tip of the post-Roe iceberg. The much larger, beneath-the-surface part is this: everyday people seeing the pro-abortion lobby on its back foot and fighting for a credibility it owned by default for nearly fifty years while all the while employing false messaging. The pro-abortion media highlights the stories of women who promote the “abortion is a social good” narrative in shrill, demanding voices. Now, without the “law of the land” advantage, perhaps people will be able to see through the negativity of the slanted journalism (and the scare tactics behind the claim that the reversal of Roe means birth control is next on the chopping block). Maybe now they will be able to admit that abortion is tragic, not lofty, and see “Without Roe, women will no longer have control over their reproductive systems” for the lie that it is. Now that there are choices for states to make, there’s more for The People to think about.