Monday, April 17, 2006

Post-Roe in Tupelo

Disclaimer #1: This is going to be a political post. This is meant to be a “brain dump” blog, not a political blog, but if my brain happens to be filled with something political that it feels other people need to hear about, that’s the dump you’re going to get.

Disclaimer #2: My use of a USA Today graphic should not be taken as an endorsement of that publication, much as I support its mission to normalize our national literacy to a fourth-grade level.

Now, then…

As Exhibit A, I present the following map of the United States:

The map illustrates the potential breakdown of a post-Roe world. Dark blue indicates states in which abortion would likely remain legal, light blue indicates states in which access to abortion might be significantly curtailed, and medium blue indicates states falling somewhere in the middle. Notice something? Like how, if you’re a poor woman in a post-Roe Mississippi, you’re S.O.L. if you don’t have the cash to make it 1000 miles to Maryland or 1400 miles to New Mexico?

To those who say “however you feel about abortion, it belongs in the legislatures and not the courts,” I say, look at this map and tell me that anything other than a simplistic “majority-rules” is going on in that swath of light blue. American democracy, in which the checks and balances of our constitutional structure protect minority interests from the tyranny of the majority, is clearly not at play. Abortion bans—hardly laws of general applicability—target a very specific group: poor women of childbearing age. You don’t see too many members of that demographic sitting in our nation’s statehouses. And while wealthier young women are theoretically subject to the state abortion bans they vote for, it’s easy to walk piously into the voting booth if you have the cash to run for the airport when the shit hits the fan.

Whatever you think about Roe, don’t try to convince me that a Mississippi legislator should get to decide whether a waitress from Tupelo gets to terminate her pregnancy if she can’t make it to Baltimore. Whatever religious agenda is being imposed on her uterus by that lawmaker, you can bet that his daughter will have no trouble coming up with the plane fare when she gets knocked up at the prayer retreat.

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