Say Goodbye to Roe v. Wade
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As the Scalito hearings begin to dissipate and it seems certain that the Democrats could not muster the solidarity or courage to turn him down, we have to now look forward to a future where privacy rights will become severely curtailed, and Roe v. Wade will be either overturned or, at the very least, gutted. Who knows, maybe Roberts or even Scalito will surprise us, maybe all that talk about respecting precedent wasn't just slimy weasel talk--but I strongly doubt it. Fundie and wingnut organizations will, without pause, start an all-out campaign to get any and every abortion case put before the Supreme Court so that Bush's new court can sacrifice Roe v. Wade on the altar of fundamentalist conservative judicial activism.
What that means, in turn, is that reproductive rights will take a 180 back into the 60's and beyond. Wealthy states will likely keep it safe and legal, but the poorer and Bible-belt states will quickly drown it, trapping those caught in the most dire of circumstances with no choice, except the coat hanger or back-street butcher. Birth rates for those in poverty may well rise and create worse conditions, and the fundies who are popping champagne corks today will gleefully turn a blind eye to that pain tomorrow.
What is worse, this signals a greater change in the course of civil rights and our observance of the Constitution overall. Roe v. Wade is not just about access to abortion, it also signals a right to make one's own personal choices without the government deciding your beliefs and forcing medical decisions on you. But the new court will have an even broader effect: for example, with Roberts and Scalito on the court, the outcome of the recent Ten Commandments cases--McCreary v. ACLU and Van Orden v. Perry--would certainly would have been different, and the separation of church and state would have begun its collapse. It will simply take a little longer for that to happen now. Say goodbye to privacy rights. Say goodbye to equal rights, as much as they currently exist. Say goodbye to a lot of rights and liberties, because the new majority of Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts and Alito will soon begin to systematically tear them down. And because these guys are young, Bush's neocon stamp on the court will last for decades.
This is not a good day for the country.
Posted by Luis at January 14, 2006 03:13 PM
The Americans always do the right thing,...after they have tried everything else.
- Winston Churchill
I have thought for a long time that this was inevitable.
We are a dumb country. We are the only country that totally (or near totally) prohibited the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages after it being widely available for centuries upon this continent.
The miracle was that we some how found the political will to undo the damage after it had been done. Prohibition was caused by constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendments are hard to bring about, and even harder to undo.
Alcoholic consumption may indeed be a vice, on many levels, but it is one I often enjoy, though less than I did in my twenties. As a vice, its constriction is perhaps valid, perhaps. But the near total prohibition of a vice is insane.
The prohibition of the vice of alcohol consumption gave birth to even worse vices then the one that was prohibited. This is an example, par excelance, of the law of unforeseen consequences and why Religious fundementalist should be kept outside the sphere of public policy and civics.
The United States became famous for graft, organized crime and rampant urban violence the world over.
The reason for these unintended consequences is related to economics. You can control a vice by means of supply or demand. Prohibition is the equivalent of a blunt instrement applied to the supply side of the equation: Prohibition simply means eliminate the vice by eliminating the supply.
Modern economics teaches us the folly of all of this: Where there is persistent demand a supply will manifest itself, either legal or illegal.
After prohibition, more sensible moralist began to attack the problems associated with the vice of Alcohol consumption from the demand side, of course they were forced to. Sure, there are restrictions and constrictions on alcohol, some of them wise, some of them unwise, but overall, it is widely available. Once you get on the demand side you find the equation to be much more complicated but even so, still more 'efficable' then the supply side approach. The demand behind Alcohol based vice is complicated, with root causes in psychology, physiology, sociology and often the dystopia of a society where there is great squalor and suffering within poverty. There are more liquor stores in poor neighborhoods than grocery - often liquor stores function as both in such neighborhoods.
Prohibition of Abortion is going to come. And with it will bring unintended consequences that will horrify the imagination. Once again people will look upon the United States in horror and wonder at their stupidity.
The nations with the lowest abortion rates, Netherlands, Belgium (and Germany a close second) are ones where abortions are widely available and largely free. Obviously it is not the availibility that keeps rates so low, it is the lack of demand. That demand is the result of intellegent policies on a number of fronts: Universal health care, lack of poverty, outstanding and objective education, especially in the health and reproductive sciences. The number of abortions are low because the number of unintended pregnancies are low. The Europeans have done a more effective job at attacking the root and proximate causes of abortion driving down demand. The availibility of it is a non-issue.
Plenty of evidence is there that suggest that root and proximate causes of Abortion have to do with poverty, lack of education and lack of health care. (As Gandhi is reported to have said, "Poverty is the worst form of violence") In the United States, Abortion will fall hardest upon the poor. The wealth uber class, exemplified by Paris Hilton, will get there abortions overseas.
There is a price to be paid for Republican domination of the nation.
In the 1920s those policies gave us prohibition, the mafia and rampant violence. They also gave us laisse faire economic policies that lead directly to the great depression. The great depression lead directly to the rise of Hitler in Germany, World War II and the Holocaust. That is the price the world paid for America being dominated by Republican's and Religious fundementalist in the 1920s.
The great depression was dominated by lack of demand - prices plummeted. Despite its severity, only in the United States did the great depression last more than five years. Japan was out of it by 1933, Germany by 1935, and England 1936 all because those nations adobted some variation of Keynesian economics. Only in the United States did the great depression last ten long years. This is because policies within the Federal Reserve system.
The Federal Reserve system was still dominated by Republicans and Republican thinking on Economics. They constricted the money supply which constricted demand. New Deal policies were helpful, but they couldn't overcome bad monetary policy. It took a world war to alter this policy. Again a world war largely the result of Republican policies in the 1920s.
The prohibition of Abortion is coming. And it will bring unintended consequences. You can't eliminate the supply of abortions and expect them to go away. In the face of persistent demand, a supply will manifest itself some how, some way. Like Alcohol, one has to wonder about the motives behind it.
H.L. Mencken is reported to said that at its root, the republican establishment is based upon the fear that somewhere someone might be having a good time. For some republicans, there is a desire to control sex. For Catholics falangist, the desire is to demote democracy: there is a desire to restore the prestige of the Bishops and the clergy. There old role was conferring legitimacy and moral authority upon the ruling class of Europe. Democracy gave that job to the people - which demoted the power and prestige of the Bishops. Catholic falangist want to prove that the people cannot be trusted in regard to morality and therefor they cannot be trustred to rule themselves. In this motive, Catholic conservatives motives merge with the uber-wealthy, who want to rule over society so as to preserve their wealth, power and prestige. This in essence is the Neocon movement.
In the end its all about power and prestige. In reality, Abortion is a pretext for undermining democracy. In that sense Neoconservatives are really ancient, medieval, Archaic-conservatives.
Finally I would further note - that the new Neocon movement does not care one iota if a new, even permanent, great depression comes about. Nor do they care about the consequences of abortion prohibition or the suffering that comes about. The uber wealthy will organize there overseas vacations around getting abortions at Swiss clinics. If they succeed, the poor they will view similary to the way they view vermin: Not human. They should be greatful that they have religion to comfort them. This of course is the social model of your garden variety Banana Republic and Wahabist Saudi Arabia. However the Neocons aren't content to keep this in their garden, they intend to go global.
How then next 10, 20, 30 or 45 years falls out is hard to determine. But like the 20s, the seeds of great convolution are being planted in this decade that will reap great horrors to come.