Thursday, December 02, 2021


Henry Olsen has a near-perfect right-wing C.V.: Claremont McKenna College, Manhattan Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and now the culture-war-driven Ethics and Public Policy Center. He writes for The Washington Post's opinion section, and yesterday he wrote this about the seemingly inevitable Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade:
In light of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments Wednesday on Mississippi’s abortion law, pro-life advocates may have what they’ve been seeking for decades: A chance to overturn Roe v. Wade. If successful, however, they are likely to find that overturning Roe will be the easiest part of their quest to outlaw abortion.

... the pro-life movement ... should expect an enormous campaign by abortion rights advocates to mobilize the pro-choice majority that favors legal abortion in the first trimester.... Pro-lifers should be prepared for that onslaught, both to mobilize their own side and to minimize the other side’s impact. Angry or violent confrontations on college campuses or in front of abortion providers probably would not do the cause much good.

Pro-life forces should also resist any attempt to federalize abortion law for the foreseeable future. Since half of all Democratic voters believe there should be no restrictions on abortion at all, any pro-life federal bill will be filibustered in the Senate. Democrats would certainly seek to codify Roe, and any federal compromise would likely at least enshrine first trimester abortions into federal law, eliminating the ability of conservative states to enact their own laws. Should a federal law pass, it would likely stand for many decades, much like the Missouri Compromise settled the slavery question for more than 30 years despite growing abolitionist sentiment.

... Right now, public sentiment favors unrestricted abortion in the first trimester, the period in which roughly 92 percent of all abortions in the United States are performed. Until that sentiment changes, pro-lifers will not be able to make significant changes to American abortion law even with Roe out of the way.

The good news for the pro-life movement is that public opinion can change relatively quickly. In 1996, only 27 percent of Americans favored same-sex marriage. That share increased to roughly 60 percent by 2015 when the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right and sits at 70 percent today. Only 4 percent of Americans favored interracial marriage in 1958; today, 94 percent do.
What's the message here? It's that the right won't rest if Roe is overturned. Right-wingers won't do an end zone dance and decide they can stop fighting and stand down. They're just going to keep coming at us, because that's how they operate. They never rest. They make realistic assessments of their ability to make change. They sometimes seem stalled or blocked, but they never stop fighting. They know it's a long game.

Our side tends to believe that if we've elected a president and flipped Congress, we're done -- we can kick back and let the officials we've elected take care of everything. The right just stays angry and focused.

I think Olsen gives Democrats too much credit. We won't "enshrine first trimester abortions into federal law" (how would that survive the inevitable filibuster?) -- but saying we will is Olsen's effort to keep his side motivated. He probably doesn't have to worry. The fight will shift to the states, and Republicans will go on offense, because they're always on offense. Democrats will protect abortion rights in deep-blue states. But Republicans will just keep coming at us. And eventually they'll federalize a national abortion ban, unless Democrats learn to fight like Republicans and stop them.

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