Winsome, Lose Some
On Dobbs & Roe, the worst people may be those who want you to think they’re nice
Alito’s added sneers at the dissent;
The dissent, the tone of which is properly somber and last-transmission-from-dying-planet;
Brett Kavanaugh’s “abortion is a land of contrasts” concurrence;
Thomas’ refusal to play along with all the other conservatives’ polite pretenses that this is just about what their Jesus friends say are proto-babies, and his announcement that why, yes, of course we’re coming for all your so-called ”rights” in Obergefell, Lawrence, and Griswold;
The silence of the Handmaid, grinning like a Cheshire Cat at how few will notice the symbolism of her agreeing in submissive silence.
I have seen several drawling armchair legal strategists saying oh, well, you know, the liberals should really have focused on the 14th Amendment rather than the right to privacy, ipso facto etc. (You’ll get this a lot from the ones who enjoy telling you that Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t much like Roe, as if her opinion of the ruling meant she wanted abortion made illegal.)
But this is pettifogging. In the Dobbs ruling Alito does not pick a shot, but slashes in every direction — not only flatly declaring “the Court abandoned any reliance on a privacy right and instead grounded the abortion right entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause” in the Casey decision, but having thus dismissed privacy saying “the Fourteenth Amendment clearly does not protect the right to an abortion” because the common law did not do so In Days Of Old When Knights Were Bold and Rubbers Weren’t Invented.
Alito then closes every exit for the women suddenly disenfranchised by his decision, contemptuously dismissing Roe’s reliance interests because, he says, “women are not without electoral or political power” to change their newly-abject state — as if that could possibly mean anything after an electorally untouchable Supreme Court diktat removed their essential right to reproductive freedom.
Along with 49 years of conservative strategy, this shows well enough that this was not a matter of “sorry, you didn’t say Mother May I.” No Constitutional approach would have saved Roe; the rightwingers wanted to kill it and, when they could, they did. As Adam Serwer very rightly observes, the Court now is without any recognizable principle except elevating whatever the Fox News hosts are yelling at the time.
Since then, there have been many conservatives who, like Thomas, see no need to hold back, and openly rejoice at the immiseration of their enemies (i.e. liberals and women). But there are also those who want you to know that they’re just really just trying to do what’s best for everyone here, including not only the fetuses but also the poor benighted broodsows they would force to bear them; these are infinitely more annoying.
Take David French, who has been a terrible God-botherer for years (recall his “Meet the New Public Face of Abortion-on-Demand: Satan” bit). Now French has a passive-aggressive plaint about how sad he is that some bad conservatives are threatening to jail thwarted abortion-seekers, whereas Good Christians like him would never do that. (That is, as long as French’s previously-expressed plan to jail abortion doctors instead keeps them from trying it — though if women keep having abortions regardless, I can safely guess what his as-yet-unexpressed Plan B [no pun intended] will be).
French, looking as winsome as he can manage, says:
The answer from pro-life America should be clear and resounding—the commitment to life carries with it a commitment to love, to care for the most vulnerable members of society, both mother and child.
Even worse is Ross Douthat at (where else?) the New York Times, who admits, yeah, some awful conservatives just want to take away abortion, but he wants to give them presents like free diapers through some future legislation which he imagines Republicans will support even though they’ve had the chance to do so for years yet somehow missed it:
But there are other possible futures. The pro-life impulse could control and improve conservative governance rather than being undermined by it, making the G.O.P. more serious about family policy and public health. Well-governed conservative states like Utah could model new approaches to family policy; states in the Deep South could be prodded into more generous policy by pro-life activists; big red states like Texas could remain magnets for internal migration even with restrictive abortion laws.
It’s like Douthat never met an actual Republican — or ever noticed that deep red states currently do the absolute least to fund pre-natal, natal, and child care even when offered federal funds to do so, and have zero motivation to do more now that SCOTUS has given them the green light to herd recalcitrant mothers into birthing pens.
The worst one I’ve seen has been from Tish Harrison Warren at the New York Times (boy, there’s a lot of this stuff at the flagship of the “liberal” media, huh?):
A sperm and an egg unite to grow into a human inside the body of a woman. The state doesn’t force this to happen any more than it forces aging or forces weight loss from exercise or forces lungs to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide.
To use language of forced gestation or of a state “controlling” women’s bodies is to portray biology itself as oppressive and halting the natural course of the body as the liberative role of the state.
Similarly, if you get cancer, don’t seek medical treatment — that would show contempt for the will of God, which is that you should die young and horribly.
There’s much more to say about Dobbs and Roe. As I mentioned at alicublog on Saturday, for example, the anti-abortion people are pushing the idea that pro-choice people are “rioting,” to shore up their usual claim whenever they’ve done something awful and unpopular and people complain about it, that they are themselves the Real Victims because they have had to endure complaints after their unpopular actions. (Since I wrote that, the Phoenix, Arizona protestors who got indiscriminately tear-gassed and arrested last weekend have been let off for lack for probable cause.)
And there are other angles to discuss as well — like whether the big companies who have responded to Dobbs by offering to pay for employees who are stationed in their shithole states to leave for abortions are doing more harm than good. But we have other editions in which to talk about it, and God knows you and I could use a break from the subject.