Sunday, May 17, 2009

Abortion's Deep Bench

So David Souter is going to leave the Supreme Court and steal away to a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. Apparently satisfied that none of his colleagues would be making their exits either feet-first or otherwise in the very near future, the Justice has chosen his moment---and given Barack Obama a golden opportunity to piss off millions of women if he does not choose a gyno-American to fill the empty seat.

Identity politics typically surround any sort of high-level appointment, but in the case of our nation's highest court, the reproductive rights lobby pulls out all the stops. Although virtually no sign of any legitimate threat to the foundation of federal abortion law seems to appear anywhere on the horizon, groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood operate as if not a single woman can ever really be safe until there is a Supreme Court consisting entirely of nine progressive civil rights attorneys, all female, and preferably each an abortion doctor.

Chromosomal fetishists on the pro-life fringe ride the issue just as hard, but the gender of an appointee is far less important than judicial temperament, and the likelihood that if push came to shove, a prospective jurist would overturn Roe v Wade. Of course, there are conservatives who accept Roe as legal precedent, just as there are liberals who support abortion rights but think it was badly decided. The issue is more complex than absolutists on either side would have you believe.

A brand new Gallup poll shows that a clear majority of Americans favor abortion to be "legal under certain circumstances" (my emphasis). This accord settling around a moderate position has been remarkably stable ever since the agency started keeping track of figures in the mid-Nineties. For all of the money spent trying to recruit foot soldiers into a cosmic battle either against phallo-centric, patriarchal villains on one side, or godless, hellbound heathens on the other, most Americans appear able to appreciate that there is a great deal of moral reasoning to be hashed out with respect to reproductive rights, and the fate of the unborn.


  1. hey william - off topic but what do you think about the impact or potential impact of virtual currency on existing so-called "hard currency"... kinda flimsy these days if you ask me... just curious. saw an article on CNN and thought... i wonder if onemoreasshole has an opinion - and of course, i'm sure you do...

    james from 1B

  2. Hey, off-topic is better than no topic at all!

    I tell you what---given the proper motivation, I will develop an opinion about absolutely ANYTHING.

    Check out the main page.