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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Next steps for anti-choice

by digby

This article in the New York Times discusses the fallout from the Supreme Court's Texas abortion decision. It delves into the reasoning behind the anti-choice strategy that led to the movement focusing on how abortion allegedly "hurt women" and how this decision affected it.

Where do abortion opponents go from here?

Pro-lifers have to decide if a legal strategy focused on women is one they want to stick with — and if the political party to which they have tied their fortunes still deserves their support. In the past decade, the movement’s success has mostly concealed activists’ sometimes clashing views about strategy. Now, with a major legal setback, the movement risks fracturing again.

Finding a perfect historical comparison is hard, but the best understood pro-life setback came in 1973, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. That case invalidated the vast majority of criminal abortion laws in the nation and left the states little room to regulate abortion early in pregnancy.

After Roe, pro-lifers concentrated more than ever on arguing for the rights of the unborn, but movement members disagreed about strategy. Some gave up on litigation, and focused on amending the Constitution, believing that the court had deliberately disregarded the rights of the unborn.

Dr. William Colliton, a veteran movement member, spoke for many who believed that the Supreme Court had already “evaded the scientific answer to the question, ‘When does life begin?’ ” so pressing on that point was futile. Others responded that the problem was ignorance. If the American public was educated about “what is really done to that living being, the child in the womb, they will reject abortion on demand,” argued Americans United for Life.

The Texas decision forces the movement into a comparable debate. Some members have already suggested that it is time to refocus on fetal rights.

Others suggest that strategies focused on women still have untapped potential. The conservative magazine National Review argued that pro-lifers had won in the Supreme Court when they introduced narrower versions of legislation and collected better proof to support it. Now as before, movement members will have to decide whether to prove that abortion really hurts women or turn more exclusively to arguments about fetal rights.

Here's the thing. They never gave up on "fetal rights" strategy. The "personhood" amendments around the country, the 20 weeks ban, all of that is about "fetal rights." But the fact that they separate these things in a two pronged strategy exposes the central misdirection of their approach. These are not separate entities. The fetus is part of the woman and the woman is part of the fetus.

Polling has changed very little over the years despite this fierce culture war. There are people who are very clear about their beliefs on both sides of the divide and others who have decided they can just live with some ambivalence on the issue. That translates into the battle continuing with the anti-choice side chipping away at reproductive rights incrementally and the pro-choice side winning the rare victory to push them back a step or two. The anti-abortion zealots have been on a roll lately so this case was important. But they aren't going to stop.