257 Comments

Count me as a liberal who opposes Roe on human-rights grounds. The matter of abortion's legality is too important to leave to men in robes. If you think women should have the right to abort, you need to own it yourself with your own vote at the ballot-box.

Expand full comment
founding

Have you ever had an argument with your friend or spouse that you thought was about one thing

-->(why didn't you call me before coming home today so you could have stopped at the store to pick up milk)<--

but actually is about something else, not necessarily unrelated, but much bigger:

-->(I am sick and tired of you not remembering when I tell you something, and never seem to consult me when you go shopping, and are generally selfish and thoughtless and you do it all the time)? <--

Your observations are extremely apposite and I think support my sense that the pro-life position is sort of like an iceberg. The visible part above water is a sincere and passionate take on the morality of abortion. That alone is justification enough for serious contention about what is right and just.

But I submit there is more, a LOT more, below the surface-- a deep, almost preconscious intuition that pretty much anything having to do with health care, sex, and reproduction is an extremely dangerous threat to everyone and everything decent people hold near and dear. And on top of that -- resentment that somehow all those other people having abortions are also welfare cheats living the high life at my expense, corrupting my children into becoming gay, cutting in line ahead of me for jobs and advancement, and worst of all despising me and my kind as stupid, vulgar boobs. [Oh, and they are also {black}.]

So when you/we start up with lists of advisable measures to reduce unwanted pregnancies, while you think we are starting a discussion of pros and cons, that's just talk about the tip of the iceberg. The real mountain of disagreement is not even visible.

I think that often, in addition to what shows above the surface, below is a huge mass of resentments: liberals trying to give away free stuff to lazy people whose problems are due to not working hard enough and who need abortions because they are too lazy and selfish to control themselves. And not just abortions.

Below the surface, "we all know" who is on food stamps through no fault of their own and who is gaming the system.. and the reason all those people need all that help is they aren't taking responsibility for themselves the way upstanding real [white] Americans want to do, but can't, because liberals have broken down the culture so no one gets rewarded for working hard and standing up for traditional values. Those who do work hard and hold to traditional values get shafted. Shafted, and worse: called stupid, called bigoted, called hypocritical. Treated with contempt and looked at as if they were animals without dignity because the things they believe in are called worthless.

So while what you and I think we want is to work on options for reducing a particular social problem, what much of the pro-life iceberg actually wants is to stop and prevent, not just abortion, but all the other changes those who are pro-choice also want to perpetrate.

Expand full comment

There is no historical tradition of abortion protection as a right of privacy for 3 obvious reasons. Most importantly, women never had a seat at the political table and a very limited audience at the public soapbox. 2nd, most women didn’t attend universities or have opportunities for careers outside the home. 3rd, safe and relatively simple medical abortion procedures were not available. Only when all three of the above were remedied was there a strong movement to secure legal abortions as a right of privacy.

Another issue is a lack of understanding of embryology and fetal development. As death of the brain signifies the demise of a human being, despite the continued existence of “human life,” maintained non autonomously, so does the formation of a functioning frontal cortex (the sentient, pain and thirst perceiving part of the brain) signify the origin of a human being (again, distinct from “human life”) in the thinking of a moral secularist.

Ultrasound images of early term fetuses create the impression of a miniature “baby,” but there is a reason that the biologically correct term is “fetus,” and not “unborn baby,” much less “unborn child.” No, a 15 week product of conception is a brainless fetus, not an unborn child.

Even conservative Pope John Paul II deemed it morally licit to remove the still beating heart from brain dead “human life” for use in a transplant, thus terminating said “human life.”

Now, none of this speaks to the issue of what is termed “ensoulment,” which is a purely religious concept. A secularist may deem it immoral to force a term pregnancy of a truly sentient and autonomous woman, who has personal and private reasons for not wishing to endure this.

My own personal position would be to legally permit unrestricted abortion to 20 weeks, based on lack of a functioning frontal cortex until 25 weeks, at the earliest - with a 20 week “limit” enforced only in cases where there have been no political, social, or economic barriers in place to impede a women’s quest for abortion care prior to that time.

As for later term abortions, these are matters for more extended ethical consideration.

- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

Expand full comment

The leaked decision says something to the effect that abortion rights are not part of our traditions. Yet the very notion of personal privacy and autonomy is contained in sentiments like "Don't Tread on Me" and even the notion that a person is safe in their home parallels the idea of privacy as a basic right.

The conservative fight against rights and against the Supreme Court began with their anger over decisions that granted African Americans the rights that they were supposed to have by virtue of the 13th - 15th amendments. Thus from billboards in the South to banners in the National Review the cry was Impeach Earl Warren.

The Conservative movement promises to unravel a host of decisions that empowered persons of all sorts to live as they chose, from inter-racial marriage to sex of all sorts between consenting adults.

Basically Alito and the rest maintain that the USA since 1933 did not happen (or was wrong). So we will go backward.

The heart and soul of conservatism is seeing the results of progress after WW2 - with a multi-racial democracy, and a nation that still attracts the best minds in all the world .... conservatives see this and want to destroy it.

Expand full comment

Thank you to you and Mona for sharing your personal stories today on your podcast. It confirmed for me because of the language you both used that these decisions are PERSONAL and CONSEQUENTIAL and have no place in the realm of political discourse and public opinion. There is no more personal decision. Roe is right. With respect to people who believe pregnancies should always be carried to term it’s an intensely private decision that affects no one more than the mother. Parsing the trimester question isn’t the issue and I would never presume to tell a woman facing that decision what to do. It’s her decision to make with her doctor. I do appreciate the thoughtful and truthful discussion.

Expand full comment

Charlie, I am wondering about Republicans next going after women who not only have had abortions but also miscarriages, i.e. the kind of thing that might be dreamed up by the Taliban now being championed by the Republican Party.

Republicans could pass a Texas-style law in which anyone can sue anyone else for a miscarriage and have the woman charged with manslaughter.

A woman could be charged with manslaughter if she is said to: be obese, smoke, have a tempestuous relationship, have an unhealthy diet, have a relationship without being married, work too many hours, drink wine, take anxiety medications, be too old, or innumerable other supposed reasons that the mother may have contributed to the miscarriage.

There is also the issue of fetuses having their chance at life taken away due to women utilizing protection to avoid pregnancy. Could someone sue a woman for denying a life to a potential fetus by using pregnancy prevention methods?

The Supreme Court may decide that women have an obligation to have a certain number of children, because not doing so is denying a God-given life to a fetus. It sounds absurd until you realize it's exactly the kind of logic that might come from ISIS, the Taliban, or even Vladimir Putin for that matter. They are carrying out the word of God after all, so what's the concern?

Expand full comment

Listening to Charlie and Ben talk about jettisoning Roe in such an intellectual, uncompassionate way was infuriating. Like it’s just politics. Rather than real life girls and women who will actually suffer and die. I get that men are never 17 yr olds facing an unwanted pregnancy; they are not mothers with no way to financially care for another child (most women getting abortions are already moms); they are not having to decide whether to raise a child w/o the father present; they are not learning from their dr in later stages of pregnancy that their baby has died or is suffering a life ending condition (the usual reason for medically necessary late term abortions); they are not victims of rape or incest; they are not being forced to die to let their fetus live. And on and on. This cruelty cannot be overstated. It is not something to giggle about. Republican women, Catholic women, Muslim women….well all women terminate pregnancies for a myriad of reasons that are not mystifying. And they are certainly not a joke. We are now in the land where the government will be forcing women to have babies against their will. And this extreme minority won’t stop until birth control and abortion is illegal across the entire country. No joke Charlie and Ben.

Expand full comment

I have had a major issue with pro-lifers for years. They claim to be so concerned about the children but once the children are born, they no longer care. They want to eliminate aid to poor families and tax credits for poor children. No free lunches. No assistance. Oh, and they support the death penalty. Hypocrisy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/03/children-women-roe-leak/

Expand full comment

Abortion rights require Solomonic wisdom to reach whatever consensus there could be: perhaps relatively unrestricted (at most brief waiting periods) in the 1st trimester, requiring physician's attestation to serious fetal anomalies which don't usually manifest until the 2nd trimester, only to save the woman's life or traumatic damage to the woman and fetus whether by accident or criminal act by others which severely reduces the odds of live birth or survival to 6 months.

Current US politics militates against anything remotely resembling wisdom or consensus. Absolute license or prohibition are all that's offered: choose one.

Expand full comment

I've listened to both The Bulwark with Ben Wittes and the Secret Pod with Mona Charen and I have the following two thoughts: 1. If you think this won't be a voting issue for pro choice voters, look at the Women's March in 2017 across the country. We knew the moment Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election what was at stake. Hence the increased activism among suburban women in the 2018 Midterms. 2. I wish when you spoke about late term abortions you'd recognize that the overwhelming majority (I'd guess 99.5%) are for medical reasons due to the unviability of the fetus/health of the mother. Before abortion was legal and long before I was born, my mother was forced to carry a pregnancy to term while fighting polio. All the doctor's knew what the outcome would be and knew the risk to my mother's life but were unable to take the medically correct course of treatment.

Expand full comment

Re health of pregnant women, one would hope the common law right to self-defense would still allow abortions up to feasible caesarean section when women's lives are threatened by their pregnancies. But I'm not a lawyer, so what do I know?

Have the geniuses in red states banned abortion in cases of ectopic pregnancies? Are such women now expected to die along with their fetuses?

Expand full comment

I am in a fury. The Supremes are political pawns and this decision to take away rights from at least 50% of the population is disgusting. My only hope at this point is that it becomes a big winning campaign issue for the Democrats. And that all women go out and vote every Republican lawmaker out of office. The GOP is a disgusting party full of traitors, liars, lawbreakers. Did I mention traitors? Traitors to our country in oh, so many ways. I must march. All women need to find a march and then register to vote if they have not yet done so. Livid doesn't even touch on how mad I am.

Expand full comment

Charlie, By abolishing Roe v Wade SCOTUS has brought us a huge step closer to the fascist theocracy dream of right wing extremists championed by republicans. Abortion is only the first to fall, contraceptive pills, gay marriage will follow shortly. The SCOTUS decision throws gasoline on the flames of civil unrest if not war. In ignoring stare decisis SCOTUS has radically increased social turmoil and potential for conflict. It is sad a malpractice case can’t be brought against SCITUS. What we’re facing has been written by Margaret Atwood. We are heading to Gilead.

Expand full comment

Charlie is one of my favorite political commentators. I can't say enough good things about him, his podcast and his newsletter. But one thing I would push back on him is that while correctly sounding the alarm about the need to protect our democracy from assault from autocrats, he likewise sounds the alarm that the most contentious political issue of our times - abortion - might be decided by the democratic process instead of unelected federal judges. That seems very much contradictory. I'm not worried about the issue being decided by state legislatures. I think early on there will be a lot of craziness, on both sides, but after things get sorted out I think you're going to see some meaningful compromises made. Roe v. Wade prevented those compromises from being made. It will be good for Roe to be gone.

Expand full comment

It's possible that you're right. I.e. in the long-term (like *really* long-term, I suspect) things settle, sensible compromises are achieved, and so forth.

However, long-term here probably means 25+ years. It will probably be pretty bad in the meantime. Clearly, for the foreseeable future, there will be nothing sensible and no compromises. It's all culture wars, 24/7. The GOP, in its current form, is incapable of governing, let alone sensible ideas or compromise. The Dems may catch up with them on that.

Is it worth it?

And, that's even granting your rosy future, which strikes me as unlikely. More likely, IMHO, is that the settled state of affairs is a two-state America with extremists calling the shots. Mistresses of rich Republicans travel incognito to blue states as needed. The poor slobs in red states get hauled in for possession of birth control.

Expand full comment

This will not be good. It will be a nightmare for women in red states who need abortions, especially those without means.

Expand full comment

Abortion is a matter of faith, not legislation or law. I have personal convictions against many things that are legal, as well as convictions for many questions that I don't have the right to bind on the whole country. I will live and die by them, but America is mistaken in thinking a theocracy is what we need. Will it be the Roman Catholic doctrine? The televangelist doctrine? The Trump know-nothing doctrine?

Expand full comment

I honestly do not understand why any person or government feels they have the right to insert themselves in such a highly personal and private decision of individual's life.

Expand full comment

It seems to me that anti Roe Republicans and members of the court benefit most from this leak, not Democrats or those who seek to preserve Roe. The advantage is to blunt the impact of the shock and hope to lessen effect on mid terms. I assume Alito and his staff leaked it.

Expand full comment

WAPO columnist Eugene Robinson agrees with you on who leaked, but he thinks it is more likely because Roberts might have been getting a Barret and/or Kavanaugh to reconsider, joining with him to uphold the MS law, but not outright overturning Roe. By leaking, Alito could make it harder for them to reconsider and be seen as traitors to the cause....

Expand full comment