Roe v. Wade, 35 years later

Rad Geek has a great post up for the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It's worth reading just for the story (previously unknown to me) of a group of women in Chicago who took the radical anti-state route. He comments:

The repeal of the abortion laws in the United States wasn’t a gift handed down out of benevolence by a gang of old men in robes. It was struggled for, and won, by women in our own times. It didn’t take ballot boxes; it didn’t take political parties; it didn’t take clever legal briefs. It took radical women who stood up for themselves, who challenged the authority of self-appointed male experts and law-makers, who spoke truth to power, who took things into their own hands and helped their sisters, in defiance of the law, because they knew that they had a right to do it, and to hell with any law and any government that said otherwise.

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Roe v Wade is big government

Roe v Wade wasn't a victory against government; it was a triumph of govt. It made a law universal by decree of a body of nine people. It spawned the Religious Right. If nine people in DC could force every American everywhere to live by a particular interpretation of such a morally divisive issue without any local input, it's no wonder that the people on the losing side decided to change their methods and goals to that of using that same power to enact their own version of morality upon everyone else.

But previously they had used

But previously they had used their local powers in all 50 states, no? (I know that at least New York legalized abortion beforehand, but that was only in 1971.)

Didn't that already happen a

Didn't that already happen a long time ago. The new deal comes to mind.

 

Changing subject, whatever his stance on abortion, a libertarian cannot condemn the government for merely refusing to oppose abortion and enforce punishement. The government has no duty to enforce anything. The lack of criminal status of abortion doesn't make the punishement for vigilante justice harshed than what it would be if abortion were legal, therefore, even if one consider abortion a crime, Roe Vs Wade remains a net increase of freedom.

The Thirteenth Amendment is big government

The Thirteenth Amendment wasn't a victory against government; it was a triumph of govt. It made a law universal by decree of a rump Congress and several states coerced into passing it while under military occupation. It spawned Jim Crow. If a rump Congress could force every American everywhere to live by a particular interpretation of such a morally divisive issue without any local input, it's no wonder that the people on the losing side decided to change their methods and goals to that of using the same power to enact their own version of white supremacy upon everyone else.

All true

Sure, that's all arguably true (for example, few would dispute that emancipation spawned Jim Crow), but the emancipation of the slaves by a decree from a victorious Washington DC was still very right.

And similarly, we might say, Roe v. Wade was handed down by Washington DC, and thus Rad Geek was really twisting the facts with his summary of what happened, but it was still a great thing for Washington DC to do.

 

Roe and causation

Constant: the emancipation of the slaves by a decree from a victorious Washington DC was still very right.

Yes, I agree, and this in spite of my belief that the Southern states should have been left alone to secede in peace. Forcing white Southerners back into the Union at bayonet-point and achieving power over them through conquest and occupation was a moral crime, but using that position of power, once achieved, to declare Southern slaves emancipated, is no crime; kidnappers and robbers have no right to go on kidnapping and robbing, so there's no victim in that particular case. And it's a very foolish form of libertarianism that would object on "federalist" grounds. I think, actually, that most libertarians would agree, in the case of emancipation, and that "federalist" objections to Roe v. Wade really have much more to do with ambivalence about abortion than they do with a consistent decentralism.

Constant: And similarly, we might say, Roe v. Wade was handed down by Washington DC, and thus Rad Geek was really twisting the facts with his summary of what happened, but it was still a great thing for Washington DC to do.

Well, my claim wasn't that Roe specifically didn't originate in D.C. Obviously it did. I was making a causal claim, to the effect that something other than the good graces of the Nine made it inevitable that either Roe, or some similarly sweeping victory, would eventually be won. So the facts that I cite as an explanation are those that I think best support the relevant counterfactuals. If the Nine hadn't handed down a (mostly) pro-choice ruling in Roe, then (I would argue) the abortion law repeal movement would have won through a different proximate cause, such as state-level legislative repeal, and/or through a growing network for safe and affordable illegal abortions. On the other hand, if not for the repeal movement, I doubt that Roe ever would have been handed down. Hence the claim that the movement is a better explanation for the eventual repeal than the Supreme Court is.