I’m not ready to celebrate the death of Roe v. Wade just yet. The reason has more to do with baseball than it does with the Supreme Court.
I’m a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, which means I know what it’s like to think you’re about to win only to be crushed yet again. I remember well game seven of the 2003 ALCS when the Sox battled the Yankees 11 innings deep only for Aaron Boone to finish it with a walk-off home run. The next year, when Boston won the World Series for the first time since 1918, I didn’t breathe until Keith Foulke threw to first for the final out.
So it is now with Dobbs v. Jackson, the most important Supreme Court case of my life. Pro-lifers think it’s over, we think Sam Alito’s recently leaked grand slam of an opinion is the final word — but then just watch as the ball rolls through the legs of Associate Justice Bill Buckner.
From off of Twitter has come speculation that all may not be as it seems. The leak of Alito’s draft is supposed to be the work of a left-wing clerk furious that the Court is about to overturn mandatory legal abortion. Yet there is another theory. What if the leaker is actually a conservative worried that one of the five justices initially prepared to strike down Roe is wavering, likely under pressure from credentialed squish John Roberts? In fairness, this theory has been advanced chiefly by frantic progressive law professors. And Occam’s razor would seem to dictate it’s just the bargaining phase of pro-choice grief.
Still…is this thing really over? Are decades of painful history really about to end?
OR could it be like the 1992 Casey case when Anthony Kennedy was about to strike down Roe only to do a last-minute about-face and start spewing gibberish about “the right to define one’s own concept of existence”? Or the 2012 Obamacare case, when Roberts, once regarded as a staunch conservative, went turncoat, upheld the law, and never looked back? The Dobbs decision still isn’t expected until June. That leaves plenty of time for a justice to cave, especially now that the leak has called down such incredible public pressure.
The reaction from pro-choicers on Twitter has been more or less as expected — screaming uncontrollably as the crosses on the walls invert, etc. — but the reaction from the so-called mainstream press has been more telling. The New York Times on Thursday ran a front-page piece aghast over the supposedly “politicized Supreme Court.” The Times was not worried about the politics of a leaked confidential opinion. It was not fretting over Roe itself, which inflicted on the entire country an abortion regime that only seven men ever voted for. But it was gravely concerned about the politics of overturning Roe, which it warned was part of the Court’s ominous “march to the right.”
Per the Times’ stylebook, only conservatives are ever political; progressives merely osmose the obvious truths around them. Yet the purpose of this particular article was clear: to gaslight Republicans and maybe even the right-leaning justices. John Roberts is notoriously hypersensitive to any perception that the Court is political, after all. And so might one of the other justices be pressured too? Maybe Brett Kavanaugh, with his institutionalist streak? Or Amy Coney Barrett, the new kid on the block, nervous to make a splash so early in her career?
Bernie Williams SCORES and the Yankees are back in this thing…
It’s possible I’m being too cynical here. Even allowing for Roberts’ serpentine temptations, the five conservative justices have seemed ready to smash Roe since oral arguments back in December. And it’s telling that the left’s response to Alito has been less to rebut his draft than to look ahead at the theocratic horrors to come. It isn’t just legal abortion on the line, they say, it’s the entire “right to privacy” enshrined in Roe that the Court discovered in the Constitution via decoder ring. Take that away, and, why, those dastardly Republicans could ban mixed-race marriages! They could prohibit contraceptives!
Given that the congressional GOP was last spotted trying to make birth control pills available over the counter, I don’t think an anti-condom crusade is in the works anytime soon. Yet give the pro-aborts this much: they’re right that repealing Roe is about more than just federalism or even abortion. Because if abortion isn’t a constitutional right, if it’s even held to be morally wrong, then much else may yet be called into question.
If a fetus is not a mere disposable byproduct, then what of our “throwaway culture,” as Pope Francis calls it, our buy-and-toss mentality towards both consumerism and sex? If sex comes with an added chance of procreation, then what of casual sex, recreational sex, teenage sex? And what of porn, which turns the sexual act into cheap entertainment? If we’re to protect the unborn, then don’t we need strong families to raise children? And what do the young think of all this, they who are having less sex than any other generation on record, they who even seem to have a — Cecile Richards save us! — socially conservative streak?
None of this is to say that porn is about to be banned (or should be). But it is to say that abortion isn’t some floating anomaly; it’s interwoven into a greater garment of post-Sixties cultural assumptions about sex and obligations. Pull on that thread, and who knows what might come apart? If Dobbs goes the right way, and if pro-lifers can make inroads in the inevitable debates to follow, it could very well be just the beginning of a larger revolution in how we think. Maybe that’s why the feminist retreads are feeling so bilious — and why this pro-lifer can’t believe it’s really about to happen.