Sunday, May 08, 2022

Fun, But Not Really All That Historical

Saturday Night Live's cold open is great fun, but it gets things kind of backward:

The first American anti-abortion laws were proposed and pushed by early "progressives" and "feminists" on the premise that abortion was a dangerous procedure that women were being bullied into by men who didn't want kids.

Roe v. Wade, on the other hand, was a 7-2 vote in which all five "conservative Republican" justices voted for the majority opinion (in SNLese, against the medieval logic of the skit and in favor of an expansive interpretation of the Constitution's rights guarantees) and two of the four "liberal Democrat" justices voted against it (in SNLese, for vile medievalism, i.e. leaving the states' prerogatives that their "progressive" forebears had insisted be exercised versus abortion, intact). 

The turn on a dime that occurred after Roe was a simple matter of identity politics -- Republicans wanted the increasingly influential Catholic vote (especially after JFK had proven it could be mobilized), and evangelical Christians, who had either been pro-choice or not given a tinker's damn about abortion before, jumped on board as well; while Democrats finally noticed that the 19th Amendment was a thing and decided that abortion could be a key issue in attracting female voters.

So they switched positions (but not, really, sides). Because this is a  routine power game, not a battle of principle, for the establishment.

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