Last week, March for Life held its first-ever rally in Connecticut on the north side of the State Capitol. A sizable, energized crowd showed up, as Connecticut’s anti-abortion movement senses that the Supreme Court may be about to hand them a resounding victory in their decades-long quest to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Meanwhile, Democrats inside the building have been working to protect women who get abortions in Connecticut, with bills that would expand who can perform abortions and shield providers from out-of-state lawsuits. There’s also been some movement on a proposal to amend the state constitution to protect abortion rights.
It’s a rearguard action against the close of a too-brief 50-year window where the rights of the pregnant were more important than the potential lives growing inside them. If/when Roe v. Wade goes down, it will be up to the states to regulate abortion. Abortion will remain legal in Connecticut no matter what happens, but in many, many other states abortion rights will be immediately curtailed or eliminated entirely.
That means people are going to travel here to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, especially if Connecticut has strong shield laws in place for providers. That’s essential, because Texas recently enacted a law allowing private citizens to sue random abortion providers, even if any abortions being performed have zero connection to them. This is the kind of law that should be so obviously unconstitutional that it would be struck down immediately. What kind of country lets people sue over events they themselves have absolutely no relation to? Does that mean I can sue a car dealership that sold a lemon to someone I don’t know? Or sue a doctor for malpractice after reading about some celebrity’s plastic surgery going horribly wrong?
And yet, here we are. The pro-life movement has been a scorched-earth campaign led by zealots who don’t care what they burn down to get what they want. Pass laws that undermine centuries of jurisprudence? Sure! Elect a dangerous, amoral, narcissistic authoritarian to the presidency? Absolutely. Pack the courts with ideologues who care more about the cause than justice? You bet.
American democracy may come crumbling down, but at least every fetus will be saved to be born into whatever awful world comes next.
Of course they’re hypocrites. Where’s the support for families in need, or for birth control? Where’s the pro-life crowd when it comes to providing health care for mothers and children? Where were they on gun control after Newtown? Why is it that Catholic priests show up in busloads for anti-abortion rallies, but not anti-war rallies? If life really is that precious, shouldn’t they be just as zealous in protecting and nurturing it in all possible ways?
It doesn’t matter. If the leaders of the pro-life movement cared about hypocrisy they would have fallen apart a long time ago. They don’t have to be consistent. They just have to win.
The thing is, if you talk to individual pro-lifers, many of them are caring, compassionate people who sometimes have very nuanced takes on abortion. Not all of them want all abortions outlawed everywhere. Some really do live their truth, and I respect that.
But what they’ll get once Roe is overturned won’t be compassionate or nuanced. Why was abortion legalized in the first place? The reason wasn’t cruelty, but an acknowledgement that not all pregnancies are wanted, that people will go to desperate and dangerous extremes to end unwanted pregnancies, and that unwanted children often have miserable lives. This was true for all of human history before Roe, and it will be true after. Overturning Roe will increase human misery.
If Roe does go down I expect a few things to happen. We’ll likely see other states where Democrats are in control to pass similar laws to ones under consideration in Connecticut, so as to make it easier and safer to travel here to end an unwanted pregnancy. There will be endless challenges to these laws, and some may make it to the Supreme Court, where they’ll face a very uncertain fate.
I doubt we’ll see a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Connecticut. Democrats seem to think voters will ratify it. I am not so sure. It’s one thing to support the right to choose, but a very different thing to check off a box enshrining it in the state constitution.
Lastly, if pro-lifers win this fight, something very interesting is going to happen to the conservative movement. Abortion is the linchpin of the right. It’s what’s kept them all together for decades. Remove it, and it will be much harder for Republicans to keep their creaky, unwieldy coalition going. In the meantime, the shock of losing Roe could very well snap Democrats out of the funk they always get stuck in whenever they’re in power.
There was a March for Life rally in Hartford last week, the first of its kind. It may very well be the last.