Notre Bama


Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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21 Responses

  1. Avatar Katherine says:

    If it Roe v. Wade were somehow nullified, outside an increasingly diminishing white Protestant-evangelical Bible Belt (Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi,etc.) abortion would, if returned to the states, lead to a huge swing towards more liberal abortion laws across the country. It would undo the advances maid by anti-abortion activists in terms of parental consent, no public funding and the like.

    Chris, you’re simply wrong here, unless you think views on abortion have changed radically nationwide in the last six years – and if you do think that, I would prefer to see some proof rather than it simply being asserted.

    This Gallup poll made a very detailed survey of Americans’ views on abortion, which is far more useful than the typical questions of self-definition as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, or in favour of more or less restrictions.

    Large majorities support parental consent, spousal notification laws, a 24-hour waiting period, and informed consent. While majorities believe abortion should be legal to preserve the mother’s life or health if it is endangered, in cases of rape or incest, or if the child has a potentially fatal condition, approximately 60% think it should not be legal for economic reasons or personal preference, and VERY large majorities believe this as regards the second and third trimesters.

    This is at least as close to the Republican positions of illegal abortion as the Democratic position of legal and unrestricted abortion, and that’s a nationwide poll. Send it to the states, and I would expect stronger laws in red states, slightly stronger ones in the midwest, and no restrictions on the west coast and in the northeast.

    Given that this is a contentious issue, is deeply concerned with differences in people’s values, and those values differ greatly between regions of the country, I think overturning Roe v. Wade and letting the states decide would provide laws far more in line with public opinion.Report

  2. Avatar paul h. says:

    It’s quite true that Roe v. Wade is further left than the majority opinion.

    And, come on, it’s not just that Obama SEEMS like a really good rhetorician because we’ve had W. and Clinton before him; even his opponents (well, Frum or Douthat or other intelligent conservatives) will concede that he’s a masterful speaker and genuinely brilliant at dialogue and debate, etc.Report

  3. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:


    Yeah it’s not just that he seems so, he actually he is a very good speaker. That said, he gets a boost from the fact that he is compared particularly right now in the GOP to real non-winners.Report

  4. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:


    I think what you are underestimating is the degree to which there would be a backlash effect if Roe v. Wade were overturned. This is undoubtedly speculative, so who knows unless it happens. But I get the sense there is a lot of soft support on the pro-choice side now. If it became an electoral issue on the level of states, with the GOP currently locked into its basically totally anti-abortion (or pro-life or whatever term we use) stance, then there would be no electoral party representing a middle/compromise position. The fear of total loss of abortion would drive huge votes for the Democrats and their party, largely dominated still I think by the pro-choice lobby, would I bet push through more pro-choice legislation as a result.

    David Frum has theorized this exact scenario playing out. Particularly as the younger generations enter more strongly into the political sphere. Overturning Roe v. Wade would I think be the definition of a Pyhrric victory. Win that battle and lose the war as a result.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    While people may be against abortion for monetary reasons, who gets to say when somebody has a good reason? Who gets to decide who has a good enough reason for an abortion? And doesn’t that avoid/ignore the privacy issues involved?

    When you say it should or will go to the states elides the issue that would arise. So if the “red” states made abortion illegal or restricted it, then why wouldn’t women drive to “free” states to get an abortion. How would state laws prevent that? And if they tried couldn’t the fed’s get brought back in then, under concepts about interstate trade or constitutional rights.Report

  6. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:


    i don’t think roe v. wade being overturned is a likely scenario. i was making the point that I think if conservatives keep pushing in that direction they are liable to undo any advances they’ve made for their cause on that point.

    I’m not the legal expert here at the League, but I’ve never quite got the privacy argument. A better legal grounding I think might come from the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.Report

  7. Avatar James says:

    ” How to circumscribe a new lodestar around which all political constellations are now defined in relation to. ”

    What a line!

    Additionally “internetical” is now my official New Favourite Word.Report

  8. Avatar greginak says:

    I don’t think R v W will be overturned either. But the federalism argument for returning it to the states, which is pushed by anti-abortion peeps, is not a solution. I’m not suggesting you think it is good idea, I just find it a canard people throw out.

    I wish the conservatives on the court and on the anti-a, side would be more open about their belief there is no right to privacy in the constitution. The ninth amendment might cover it although I gather many people, including Scalia the Orignalist, don’t think much of it.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The problem is that *NEITHER* side believes in a right to privacy.

    I mean, if people have a right to privacy, they might X! What about The Children???

    The problem is that both sides don’t see how a right that they themselves are not using would remain a right, so they trade it away in order to keep other folks from using it. “Oh,” they say, “that amendment can’t possibly mean *THAT*!!!”

    And both sides trade away our birthright (indeed, it’s all of ours) for a mess of pottage.Report

  10. Avatar greginak says:

    yes Jay most people aren’t absolutists. every right has limitations and sometimes conflicts with others. People shouldn’t be able to kill or rape their children, or some other obvious example of how our rights are, correctly, limited. but in the world we have to live in there are people of favor privacy and those who don’t.Report

  11. Avatar James says:

    Surely those examples constitute intrusion against the child’s rights, greginak? It’s not a limitation, then, merely a state protection.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Why complain about conservatives not believing in a right to privacy, then?

    They can even accuse you of being an absolutist if you disagree.

    Then you can say something like “I never thought that giving the government *THAT* much power could possibly backfire!”

    It’ll be fun.Report

  13. Avatar Rj says:

    Quick hits:
    1. That Gallup poll is more than a little suspect. For example, it has the sampled equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans when we know the latter is far smaller.

    2. The American public may be to the right of Roe, but so is the law – though Casey and other decisions upheld Roe, many state restrictions impermissible immediately following Roe have been upheld.

    3. Many people who aren’t entrenched in “movement” abortion politics hold complex views that are often contradictory. How many people who call themselves “pro-life” as a blanket term favor rape exceptions and would, given some particularly hard-luck scenario, agree that abortion is an acceptable option.

    4. I agree with Chris. Obviously, people who think abortion is an ongoing holocaust aren’t going to follow Obama’s lead to be respectful. Would you be respectful in a debate with a Nazi in 1942? The brilliance of Obama’s speech is to split the people who refuse the olive branch from those who agree with them on many policy issues but don’t see the issue in such absolutist terms. As with the recent RINO purge fever, the true believers will find that purity isn’t as appealing to the masses as it is to the people who show up to meetings.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Many people who aren’t entrenched in “movement” abortion politics hold complex views that are often contradictory.”

    They aren’t necessarily contradictory. They merely weigh different things differently. For example, the idea of abortion as birth control is repugnant to them but if the woman was raped (or the child was raped incestuously) or the mother’s life is in danger, they say “the kid/woman didn’t ask for that” and say that abortion is acceptable because it’s not being used as an easy way out for the mom.

    (Note: I support abortion under any/all circumstances including abortion as birth control because I am one of those absolutists who finds the idea of the government forcing a child to be brought to term to be far, far more repugnant than infanticide. I do make moral distinctions between abortions in the first, second, and third trimesters but don’t think that “legislating morality” has the upsides that most busybodies think it does.)Report

  15. Avatar greginak says:

    Jay , you called yourself an absolutist in another thread. For what its worth, I don’t think the state has any reason or right to intervene in a woman’s womb. That would seem to be private to me.

    James- That to a degree is my point. The state steps in to protect the child’s rights. But that certainly limits what the parents can do. There could be a million examples: the State limits how many factory owners can dispose of their own private property ( toxic waste, air pollution, etc). In some cases rights of people conflict so the state, using law and the constitution, acts as the arbiter.

    It is easy in many cases to make grand statements about rights and such, i know i have made them myself. But many of the most difficult cases are about how we balance people’s rights.Report

  16. Avatar James says:

    It doesn’t limit their rights, as they have no right to treat the child in that fashion.Report

  17. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Chris, delightful analysis…powerfully done!
    The Big ‘O’s in the driver’s seat for sure, and the GOP is toast. However, if the Ayrabs kill a bunch of my countrymen (God forbid!), or if the economy, after his ‘incentives’, collapses (as in hungry bellies, no ss, no welfare, ect), he’ll be a one termer.
    If he goes after guns, talk radio, or tries to expand abortion/euthanasia, or implement socialized medicine he may be one term depending on the stupid party.
    I’m continuing to hold to the Big ‘O’ as an Afro-centrist Marxist, though the Afro-centrist part is utilized only at election time.
    Chris, I’m really looking forward to a blog by you on Jesus…soon I hope!Report

  18. Avatar Katherine says:

    1. That Gallup poll is more than a little suspect. For example, it has the sampled equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans when we know the latter is far smaller.

    It’s from around 2003-2005, when I expect the percentages were a lot closer. I couldn’t find one more up-to-date, and think it’s far more valuable than than just polls on whether people self-define as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”.

    Chris –

    I think if Roe was overturned and the GOP saw a chance to largely ban abortion, they would be willing to leave some exceptions for the life and health of the mother (for example, I think in parts of Western Europe it’s only allowed past the first trimester if a danger to the mothers’ health is noted by a physician; the same could apply in the US for any time). Laws reflecting what people actually believe would eliminate the vast majority of abortions.

    If you’re going to say that most people would support looser abortion laws (which is hard to see, given that there are next to none currently), I want to see some hard evidence for that. Right now, what’s happening is everyone trying to cast positions held by a large majority of Americans as fringe and extremist.

    Judging by recent polls, more people oppose unlimited abortion than oppose torture.Report