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Harrop: The anti-abortion right is not into compromise

By Froma Harrop - | Apr 12, 2024

Martin Bentsen

Froma Harrop

Getting rid of Roe v. Wade was sold as a sensible and mollifying approach to the abortion controversy. It would let each state ban or codify a right to abortion in accordance with local culture.

This assumed that the end of a constitutional right to abortion was the victory after which “pro-life” conservatives could go home. Not so. Anti-abortion activists clearly see Roe’s fall as but one stop in a longer journey to outlaw abortion outright.

And why wouldn’t they? If you believe that the cell cluster created at conception has the same rights as a 1-year-old, how could you be content letting abortion remain available in California and Massachusetts? You wouldn’t be if you really held that abortion is murder.

That’s why anti-abortion groups are trying to prohibit distribution abortion pills by mail. But remove the mail, and you still have the pills. Take away the abortion pills, which is being tried, and then you can go after contraception.

After Roe went down, Alabama tried to, in effect, put an end to in vitro fertilization. That move was based on the view that the IVF process results in the destruction of embryos. And that view is correct. It does.

Arizona’s Supreme Court just dusted off an ancient law that bans nearly all abortions. The court decided that with Roe gone, those old restrictions could stand.

What made it all seem so bizarre is that the restored law had been passed nearly half a century before Arizona even became a state. Truth be told, though, those restrictions from 1864 aren’t very different from those in states that have recently banned abortion.

The overthrow of Roe let 14 states outlaw abortion outright. Several other states have put in “gestational limits” so low they’ve effectively ended a right to abortion. In the first six weeks, women usually don’t know whether they’re pregnant or whether their period is late. Florida is about to join Georgia and South Carolina in forbidding abortion after six weeks.

But to staunch foes of abortion, that leaves 28 states where abortion remains very legal, in addition to the wishy-washy ones. With Roe out of the way, they must continue the fight. Most other Americans see it creating chaos for their families and for no logical reason.

Ah, the politics of it.

Donald Trump ended Roe. He campaigned to appoint a Supreme Court that would end Roe. He followed through on that vow, and yes, Roe is ended. The trouble for Trump is the new attacks on reproductive rights are politically unhelpful to the man who enabled them.

What to do? Trump’s now making the state’s-rights pitch in Roe while advocating for a 15-week time limit. You can’t have both.

If elected president, would Trump sign a law banning abortion everywhere (the heck with states’ rights)? He won’t say.

Would Trump support harsher punishments for women who have abortions? In 2016, Trump said he would.

This issue is not some far-off debate about whether gay-friendly books belong in school libraries. It is central to a family’s ability to plan its own future. It is visceral. There is much growing evidence that pro-choice Americans “vote the issue,” and this is a group that spans the political spectrum.

Possibly working in Trump’s favor is his utter lack of principles. In 1999, he said he was “very pro-choice.” In 2011, Trump was “pro-life.” He recently performed another pirouette, declaring that Florida’s six-week ban was “a terrible mistake.”

What Donald Trump is truly in favor of is not caring one way or another. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion right cares very much. The end of Roe has emboldened it to go after the compromises it never wanted to make and the great American majority demands.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.


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