How Dare They?
Scott Lemieux wonders "how on earth" Christine Stansell's retelling of the history of abortion rights made it into the New Republic, since it breaks with the Jeff Rosen-Ben Wittes "Roe is bad law" line. I wondered how on earth it made it into the New Republic because it's completely tendentious and unconvincing. There is, for instance, the assertion that "before Roe v. Wade, abortion was as widely practiced as it is today," a canard that requires one to believe, among other implausibilities, that the abortion rate went down after legalization. There's the historical cherry-picking - a ballot initiative here, a Saturday Evening Post headline there - to suggest that public opinion and the Supreme Court were on exactly the same page in the late Sixties and early Seventies. (They weren't.)
And then there's this, which isn't so much wrong as delightfully obtuse:
So how, despite public opinion, did abortion opponents manage to waylay and subvert pro-choice measures in state after state before 1973? The answer lies in the intractable determination of religious conservatives to recast abortion as a debate over the primacy of child-bearing and the personhood of the fetus, rather than as an issue of women's well-being.
So you're saying that they used the power of argument to defeat you! Those ... those unspeakable bastards!