For Pro-Choice Advocates, There Is Still A Way Forward
Every few months, weeks, or hours — depending upon the news cycle — my wife will ask, “So, is it time to move to Canada yet?” It’s not out of the question for us. We live fairly close; I can take my job anywhere; and she’s very employable. But here’s the thing about people like us moving to Canada. It doesn’t help anyone, and there’s no need for us to move. We are middle-class white people who live in a very liberal city. The make-up of the Supreme Court is probably not going to affect us much one way or another, and Trump’s tax policies — at least until the bottom falls out on our economy — are probably ultimately beneficial to us. Day to day, Donald Trump’s presidency leaves us in a constant state of low-hum misery, but it’s not actually going to change our lives that much for the worse.
So why the hell do we even vote for Democrats? Well, that’s the thing about Democrats, isn’t it? There is obviously some self-interest, but if you’re a well-off white family in a liberal city, you probably vote for Democrats at the national level because you care about other people, you care about the country, and if you care about other people, and you care about the country, you don’t move to Canada. You stay here, and you try to help. It’s not like you’re losing much besides sleep and your goddamn mental health in doing so.
Donald Trump is going to install a very conservative judge to the Supreme Court, and the composition of it will change. Justice Roberts will become the swing vote, and that’s to the right of the center about as much as George W. Bush is (Bush was obviously a pro-life President, too). Those worried about Roe v. Wade being struck down should worry. There’s a very good chance that abortion in America will be illegal in about 18-26 states within the next two years. That’s not alarmist. That’s the most likely outcome if Trump nominates, and Congress confirms, another justice like Neal Gorsuch.
But hope is not lost, and that’s why it’s important not to give up. Yes, hope may be lost for a generation at the Supreme Court — I don’t have any illusions about the Democrats being able to hold up the confirmation process — but Congress can still pass pro-choice legislation. This court battle is obviously going to take place primarily at the state level — and if you live in a blue state, you’re going to be fine; if you live in a deep red state, you’re fucked — but it is possible to leapfrog over the state level and enact something on the national level.
What would that look like? Unfortunately, unrestricted reproductive rights is not really in the cards on the national level anytime soon. The country is still fairly polarized on that issue. However, many more people than not support the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. However, to even get that base level of “choice,” it would mean changing the composition of Congress and waiting for a Democratic President to sign such a law.
That’s not going to happen in the next two years, but the backlash to overturning Roe v. Wade may actually prove to be beneficial to the Democratic Presidential candidate, which means we could get someone in there to sign such a law by 2020. However, the fight over who gets to draft that bill begins this year. It means electing more Democrats. It means electing more women. It means electing more pro-choice candidates. We still have the numbers, and hopefully, this issue is one more that will help to activate our supporters. Senators serve for six years, so we’re making choices this November about elected officials that could make a difference until 2024.
And yet, a victory will still probably only set a baseline. Women in New York and California and New England and Minnesota and Illinois are still going to have access to abortion clinics, but best-case scenario, women in Arkansas may only be able to get an abortion if they are raped or if the health of the mother is in danger (ideally, a law would also allow abortion in cases where the health of the baby is also in question).
But in either respect, that’s why we stay. That’s why we keep fighting, because even if you are privileged enough that Trump policies are not likely to affect you too terribly, it’s imperative that you continue to fight, not for yourselves, but for others. That’s what Democrats do, or at least, that’s the Democratic Party that I aspire to. So, liberal white people — men and women — in Blue States: You’re more important than ever, because there will always be a teenager in Mississippi or Alabama or Texas or Arkansas who is carrying the baby of the man who raped her, and right now, we’re kind of her best hope.