Even if Roe is overturned, new technology makes it almost impossible for the law to stop abortions from happening -- but persuasion can change women's choices
Weighing in on whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a avowed federalist, should be acceptable to socially conservative voters, Daniel Larison agrees that returning abortion to the states is the best anti-abortion forces can realistically expect, but observes that it isn't what they want to do. "Pro-life activists don't liken themselves to abolitionists and civil rights activists just to be cute," he writes. "To a large degree, many of them see themselves as advocates for a righteous cause that cannot be impeded or limited by questions of jurisdiction, and they see pro-life federalist arguments as unacceptable compromises on a moral issue where there ultimately should not be any meaningful compromise."
Though I'm deeply skeptical of the socially conservative positions on marriage, censorship and the drug war, I must grant that treating abortion as a moral imperative is grounded on a plausible if impossible-to-prove premise: that fetuses are full persons with rights that are being violated. I am deeply conflicted about whether "pro-lifers" are right or wrong about that, and the horrific implications of the former possibility. But it is worth noting that even if abortion is in some way analogous to slavery or Jim Crow as anti-abortion groups assert, that would hardly settle the matter of political strategy. Plenty of committed abolitionists and civil rights champions were political pragmatists, and much of the most important work done in winning their fights involved changing the minds of other Americans.