Once again, the Americans are having a civilised debate.
A brief history of Roe v Wade
In 1969, having given two children up for adoption, 21-year-old Norma McCorvey ‘fell’ pregnant for the third time. Finding that her state prohibited abortion, McCorvey claimed a gang of black men had raped her. The lie was still not sufficient to sway the law, but her situation made the ideal vehicle for a multi-million dollar effort to persuade the US supreme court that anyone should be allowed an abortion anyway. The Roe v Wade proceedings took three years (by which time McCorvey’s third child, Shelly Lynn Thornton, was a bouncing toddler adopted by a couple who wanted her), and cemented the constitutional right to all American women to abortion.
Then, in June 2022, the Supreme Court found Roe to be unsatisfactory and overruled it. The ethical burden of the abortion question is now back down to provincial legislators.
This recent turn of events appears to have been triggered, like the Swiss minaret ban or Brexit, by its own opposition overplaying their hand for concessions (namely, a Mississippi abortion clinic was clamouring against that state’s ban on abortions past the 15-week mark). ‘Pro-choice’ were unwilling – perhaps unable – to stop building on their teetering structure of legal rights, so the entire edifice gave out at its boggy foundations.
The Immediate Reaction
America’s legislature is bound by the decisions of its judiciary (heads up, Euro-federalists, this system doesn’t always work in your favour). Powerless to do anything, the ruling Democrats swept the legal arguments aside and ramped up their main export to the civilised world: impotent political rage.
Here’s Secretary of State Nancy Pelosi.
A few days later, pro-choice senator Tiara Mack evoked some rite of the savannah by sticking her head in the sand, framing a church between her thighs and shaking her blubber for the great juju of the ballot box.
This is a defining moment in the Homo Sapien story: our fleeting sentience, perhaps unique in all time and space, bookended between the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf and the Tiktok Venus of Rhode Island.
On some primitive level, women like Mack intuit that a girl’s arse wins more attention than her rank or reason. They sustain a love-hate relationship with this objectification, condemning it in good times, abusing it in bad.
Stefan Molyneux points out (I paraphrase) that “men are unable to comprehend quite what the collapse of Roe means to the women who supported it. No man, except perhaps a few rock stars, experiences remotely the levels of social approval and deference from the opposite sex that young women can expect merely from signalling their sexual availability to legions of men. To attach the natural consequences to that power is to remove drugs from a junkie.”
The withdrawal affects are on full display.
But Molyneux misses a vital point. With the dozens of forms of contraception and ‘plan B pills’ currently available, the right to abortion represents more than simply a right for women to throw their sexuality around. That existed anyway. What is really at stake is whether or not the wider society should be held accountable for their doing so. The 15-week, 24-week, or full term limits for artificial termination are an allowance to use a pregnancy as a bargaining chip and an unborn child as a hostage. Nobody needs that long to decide whether they want a child or not unless their verdict depends on the outcome of negotiations with others, which is why this will always remain an issue of the whole society, not just ‘those of us with a uterus.’
Where do we go from here?
For the first time in the lives of most of us, the Sexual Revolution must negotiate with obstacles of reason. Absent a foregone conclusion, the largest democracy on Earth ponders whether individuals should be relieved of the natural consequences of their sexual behaviour in any situation. It’s obvious which side hates to have this discussion, but it isn’t clear who is going to prevail.
The pro-life side are going to have to do better than they are now. While some hide in safe-houses of religious impunity, others sing from the secular hymn sheet. But where is the discussion over alimony laws? If fair was fair, why wasn’t there rioting over a system that allowed citizens to be forced into fatherhood but not motherhood?
Over at Pints with Aquinas, Stephanie Gray Connors lays out a disastrous case which has hamstrung the Roman Catholic approach to this issue for decades: ‘human rights.’
‘Human rights’ – such as the ‘right to life’ – are more or less a product of the French enlightenment. They do not exist in fact nor in Catholic theology, but are nevertheless are taught by First World Catholic schools in Theology (rather than History), Classes. The Western Church will remain ineffective in this debate for as long as it uses enemy blueprints to structure its arguments.
Slightly more compelling are the arguments advanced by Abortionist Dr. Potts, whose good intentions nevertheless pave the shortest one way street to hell devised by man.
‘We are not doing more abortion because the law has changed, we are doing safely the same abortions which would have been done anyway.’
‘we are not doing more abortion because the law has changed, we are doing safely the same abortions which would have been done anyway.’Abortionist Dr. Potts
Dr Potts fails to see the slippery slope of this approach even having arrived at the bottom of it. The rate of legal abortions increased year on year from Roe, so we have obviously developed a kind of ‘abortion culture’ in which the social approval of abortion has led to an uptick in the careless sex that leads to them.
This is a problem with reactive solutions in general: if the pro-choice lobby were put in charge of traffic management, they would only respond to careless driving in cases that led to a crash. They would then use the rising number of crashes to reinforce the necessity for their public positions while obviously contributing nothing to public welfare.
Dr Potts’ also claims that his ethic is to live in a world with the least suffering possible.
‘my ethic is to live in a world with the least suffering.’Abortionist Dr Potts
Should people never be allowed to suffer if it can be avoided? Usually, this is an incredibly complex question to answer on secular terms. In this case it is not. Besides increasing the volume of the exact suffering that Dr Potts is concerned with relieving, abortion culture conditions other aspects of our culture. Are promiscuous teenagers happier? Are households are more stable? Do marriages last to old age? All of this must be included in whatever test of suffering Dr Potts can devise before we arrive at the central challenge to his thesis: do women who have an abortion suffer less than those who proceed with unwanted pregnancies?
As for the big slogans which move public opinion, it is suggested that ‘my body my choice’ was traded away by left wing demands for vaccine mandates. However, I think that for all its posturing, #metoo had already sounded the death knell for free love. Nobody now denies a link between the private sexual act and the behaviour of wider society. The battle is only over the place of the law in how that link is construed.
No one is seriously suggesting that Abortion will be made much more difficult in the USA. There may be a few places where it becomes illegal – rather like not having a Disneyland in your state – but large corporations have been quick to signal their willingness to help female employees to cross borders in the event of an undesirable pregnancy (such is the nature of female emancipation).
In fairness to all parties, we often see what is going on through the lens of the American political and social mediascape. Anyone who gets as far as ‘going on TV’ can automatically be assumed to be a tool for some larger interest – so one can put only as much store by individual convictions as on Norma McCorvey’s rape allegations.
McCorvey herself went on to became an anti-abortion activist for some evangelical movement before reverting to her pro-choice views for a 2020 documentary. Every notable event in her life, from her earliest juvenile offences to her last deathbed confessions, seems to have been marketed to perpetuate the same miserable conditions which define her place in history.
The line that carnal dis-regulation is ‘liberty’ has had a good commercial run, contributing to the Babylonian orgy of the late 20th Century. The remainder is abandoned women, dead-beat fathers, social delinquency and hundreds of millions of aborted babies. It looks like people are beginning to notice.