I wish the energy and effort everyone put in to the filibuster attempt had been enough to keep Alito off the court. Hopefully it will be enough next time. But we need to be prepared if it isn't. More importantly nothing we do about the Supreme Court will ever provide sufficient protection for a woman's right to choose.
Thus, I think the focus of the women's rights movement on maintaining Roe v. Wade is a mistake. If we're serious about protecting a woman's right to choose we need to rethink the judicial strategy. Relying on the courts to protect reproductive rights is too risky and too ineffective and when we spend so much of our resources on maintaining constitutional protection of abortion we are making a significant strategic error. Not only are we putting all our eggs in one basket-- the basket has a few big holes in it.
Instead of focusing on maintaining five pro-choice votes on the Supreme Court we should radically decentralize the movement, harness all of this energy and do some real grassroots campaigning and pass radically progressive reproductive choice initiatives on the state and local levels...
-Roe and the Abortion Rights Movement: Death-
By 1965 all fifty states had criminalized abortion. There were about 1.2 million illegal abortions a year and thousands of women were harmed in these procedures. But in 1967 California and Colorado legalize abortion. From 1967 until Roe v Wade in 1973 one third of all states legalized abortion.
Roe v. Wade marked a turning point in women's rights activism. Abortion was now a protected right under the constitution, guaranteed to all women. But the decision had a more insidious effect: Roe v. Wade killed the abortion rights movement and at the same time spawned the pro-life movement. Pro-choice advocates and activists, for the most part, saw little reason for not finding another issue to fight for. Roe gave a woman's right to choose constitutional protection, what reason was there then to stay and fight? We thought we had won.
Meanwhile reactionary Christians became furious. Ambitious politicians sought to mobilize this group and so promised to help them overturn Roe v. Wade. Roe became a focal point for all that was evil in the minds of Christian conservatives and right wing legal thinkers.
-Abortion Rights After Roe: Failure-
The 1973 decisions, for the most part, succeeded in protecting abortion rights until 1989.
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services and 1992's Casey v. Planned Parenthood opened up loopholes in Roe and allowed states to impose drastic regulations on abortion access. Today 87% of counties have no abortion providers and there are fewer providers in the country today than at any other time since Roe v. Wade. In short, Roe v. Wade is failing to protect abortion rights but no one does anything because the subversion of abortion rights has been slow and underhanded. We are losing the battle.
Roe v. Wade is the undisputed nexus of the pro-choice movement today. The entire pro-choice position is routinely reduced to three letters R-O-E, "we need to protect Roe" or "Alito will vote to overturn Roe!" Kossacks have joined NOW, NARAL and a host of other progressive organizations spending dollar after dollar, hour after hour organizing petitions, writing letters, making phone calls, publishing newspaper ads, putting out T.V. spots all with the goal of getting the Democrats to filibuster the Alito nomination in order to preserve constitutional protection of the right to an abortion-- encompassed literally and symbolically in Roe v. Wade.
But simply maintaining the precedent set in Roe is insufficient to protect women's reproductive rights. And after today not only are we one step closer to overturning Roe, we're one step farther from overturning Casey and establishing real protection of a woman's right to choose. Even if the progressive wing of the Democratic Party were to take control of the executive and legislative branches it will be decades before there will be an opportunity to replace Scalia, Thomas, Roberts or Alito. It doesn't matter whether Roe v. Wade is overturned or not: the present court will continue to water down restrictions on legislative action regarding abortion essentially making Roe irrelevant.
-Legislative Protection and the Unconstitutional Right to an Abortion: Resurrection-
We need to start digging trenches and fighting back: the right has advanced too far on this issue. Think about all the work and energy that went into the Alito filibuster this weekend. Imagine if we took that energy and directed it toward local initiatives designed to make attaining an abortion easier, safer and cheaper. If Roe is overturned the issue is returned to the states. That could happen. But when it does, we should see to it that abortion laws are so progressive that nothing changes when the court acts.
We can win too. Take a look at some of these poll numbers. Keep in mind, these are the numbers without a nationwide campaign for choice. These are the numbers before we launch campaigns to educate the American people on how the barriers that have been set up essentially prevent many women from getting abortions altogether.
Here are the important ones ones:
"Whatever your own personal view of abortion, do you favor or oppose a woman in this country having the choice to have an abortion with the advice of her doctor?"
Don't know 7
"Let me read you two positions on the issue of abortion. Between these positions, which do you tend to side with more? Position A: Government should pass more laws that restrict the availability of abortions. Position B: The government should not interfere with a woman's access to abortion."
A. Should restrict availability 30
B. Should not interfere with access 65
Not sure 5
A huge majority of the American people are with us on this issue. We shouldn't be afraid of tackling it in the legislatures, we can win. Let's make those informed consent laws easier to comply with. Let's get the government to fund abortions. Let's start programs to provide safe and private transportation to and from abortion clinics. Let's get real sex education in the classrooms so young women no about all their choices and have access to contraception to prevent pregnancies to begin with.
A few days ago Armando praised the Daily Kos community for fighting to filibuster Alito. He concluded his post by saying "This is how movements are born."