Last autumn, in the midst of a presidential election, America's Democrats were fighting furiously to protect what they described as a constitutional right - to have an abortion.On Friday, of course, the news of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement rocked the nation, with the prospect that a new appointment would likely go to a conservative. Wood continues:
But in an extraordinary turn of events, some argue that it is the single issue standing in the way of their election prospects. They are daring to say what once was regarded as heresy - that it is time to let the argument go.
Abortion may still be the most divisive issue in the US, but in a move indicative of creeping conservatism, Democrats now seem happy to amend - even relinquish - their position on it.
There has been unprecedented discussion about 'letting go of Roe' - meaning Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that decriminalised abortion. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that 'unless Roe v Wade is overturned, politics will never get better'. Liberals, he believes, have lost touch with working-class Americans because they rely on the courts to impose their views and have never had to debate 'values' with those voters.But it is not only conservatives arguing this case. Cynthia Gorney, who wrote A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars, is reported as saying that she has "heard it coming from people who you certainly wouldn't have heard it from three or four years ago." She says, according to Wood: "It's people who are ardent Democrats, fed up with the vacillations and ineffectiveness of the party. One aspect of that was: we've hung on too long to things that are destructive to us ultimately and clinging to Roe is costing us more than it's gaining us." The reason for the debate, of course, is the very real possibility of the judicial overturning of Roe v. Wade. Wood reports:
In the Atlantic Monthly, avowed pro-choicer Benjamin Wittes advised abortion-rights supporters to 'let Roe die'. Commitment to it, he wrote, 'has been deeply unhealthy for American democracy'. The battle over Supreme Court nominees is likely to become 'an ugly spectacle in which a single narrow issue pushes to the sidelines discussion of a broad array of other important legal questions' and liberals should have faith in the pro-choice majority.Well, we've heard top Democrates, like Hilary Clinton, declare that it's time Democrats reintroduced religion back into their political discourse and stopped alienating themselves from the mainstream of American family values. Whether that's more than smoke and mirrors is not exactly hard to say, though a reinvigorated public discussion of the role of religious values in politics would be a welcome change in the national debate. As to what Wood's Observer report signifies for the future of the NARAL-NOW-PRO-CHOICE-PLANNED-PARENTHOOD coalition of death culture forces, it's much too early to say, though it's never too early to pray. Read more here. (A tip of the hat to Chris Garton-Zaveski for the reference. Gratia tibi.)