Progressives will fight for women’s rights, and we may prevail. What will happen if we lose?
Let’s assume for a moment that Roe and Griswold will soon be overridden, and that hundreds of Federal judicial appointments that ought to have been Obama’s will now be made by Trump and ratified by a feckless or impotent Senate. Let’s assume (optimistically) that the Trumpists adopts a Federal solution – regulation of abortion and birth control returns to the states. What would America look like then?
Massachusetts will retain regulations that look a good deal like today’s. So will New York, California, and some other places. The Deep South will outlaw abortion and restrict birth control. Throughout the rest of the country, the politics will be brutal. There will be lots of places where it’s hard or illegal to obtain an abortion.
That means lots of women will again go on abortion vacations. That’s expensive, so there will be lots of fundraising to help poor women fly to free states. Where states enact restrictive controls on birth control (e.g. requiring parental consent for minors), there will be a more-or-less open black market in smuggled birth control, too. That will take money and plenty of willing hands. We should make plans now, and hope we don’t need them.
The pro-Life zealots will hate our plans. District attorneys who want votes and publicity will crack down. Congress will be lobbied to pass laws against interstate transport for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. Prosecutors will try to shut down Planned Parenthood for criminal conspiracy.
The marchers on Boston Common last Saturday knew that they were standing where abolitionists had stood. Every time a woman is killed or crippled by a back-alley abortion, her name will be read from the pulpits of old New England churches — Unitarian and Universalist churches that were born out of support for abolition and immigration. Every time a contraceptive smuggler is arrested, her name will be read from the pulpits of glass-walled megachurches. Denominations that have been neighbors for a century will again despise each other. The Catholic Church in the US will split in two.
People will not forswear sex because they will not give up love. We know this. Women won’t give up their sexual autonomy, wrested at long last from the iron grip of biology. They’ll fight, and their friends, their lovers and their families will fight beside them. If they cannot stop the law, they will work around it. If they cannot save their sisters, there are not jails enough to hold them.
Appeals to Joe Sixpack and talk about primarying Catherine Clark are appeals to a vanished America, a time when All In The Family was real and Louisa Day Hicks was a Democrat. You’re not going to beat Katherine Clark from the right today, and you’re certainly not going to beat her from the right when the resistance is fighting to save women’s lives in Savannah and writing letters from their prison cells in Birmingham.
The vintage where they store the grapes of wrath is right over there, and the fruit hangs heavy on the vine.