Kansas told us what we already knew.
On Tuesday night, in a state former President Donald Trump won with 56.1% of the vote, an initiative called the “Value Them Both Amendment” was resoundingly rejected at the ballot box. The “both” in the title refers to mother and baby. The amendment’s clearly anti-abortion nomenclature equated a full-formed adult woman with a blastocyst. And it lost, 58.8% to 41.2%.
Politico's Playbook called what happened in Kansas “A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE” and called the victory “stunning” — but was the victory actually stunning?
So far, with around 95% of votes reported, over 908,000 people made their opinions known. And those opinions were apparently surprising. Politico's Playbook called what happened in Kansas “A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE” and called the victory “stunning” — but was the victory actually stunning?
On June 24, the Supreme Court issued the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning the right to abort. It was a right American women had possessed since 1973 and it was gone. Even though I’d seen the leaked Dobbs opinion in May, I was completely flabbergasted when it actually happened. I kept looking at this one line: “Roe and Casey are overruled.”
In the first month of post-Roe America, 43 abortion clinics closed in 11 states. Huge swaths of the country became abortion deserts. I thought about all the women who would not be able to afford to end pregnancies of children they couldn’t care for. I thought about all the people I knew who voted Republican but quietly sent their daughters to have abortions.
Because in fact, most Americans are pro-choice. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in the first trimester. A Gallup poll from June showed that 55% are broadly pro-choice. Overturning Roe was always a wildly unpopular move, and even Chief Justice John Roberts knew it. As Roberts wrote in his concurring Dobbs opinion, "The Court's decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system — regardless of how you view those cases. A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case." Roberts knew overturning Roe would be the thing that undermined the credibility of the court. He was quickly proven right. In August, Gallup found that only 13% of Democrats and 40% of independents approved of the Supreme Court.
Even though I’m 43 years old and unlikely to have more children, this sudden destruction of my rights was devastating. Anecdotally, it felt like finally Republicans had gone too far. On Instagram, even my nonpolitical friends seemed furious. Friends of friends called me. Democrats raised 80 million dollars in the week after the Dobbs decision was handed down. Protests raged from California to Atlanta. Women in Kansas turned that rage into action and registered to vote — in large numbers. According to TargetSmart, “70 % of Kansans who registered to vote after the Dobbs decision was released were women.”
But the mainstream media kept telling me that “polls show Americans don’t care that much about Dobbs — and won’t base their vote on it.” Apparently “the threat to Roe may not save Democrats in 2022,” a rumination which included this quote from an unnamed Democratic Party strategist: “I wish we lived in a world where outrage mattered. But I think we live in a post-outrage world.” I was told by a former Trump official that "abortion might not be the wedge issue it used to be."
Many articles wondered if inflation would be a bigger deal than losing bodily autonomy. A former member of the Trump administration known for being wrong about everything all the time even accused Biden of using “Roe as a distraction from what is really America's No. 1 political issue, and that is record inflation and gas prices.”
Clearly, this is not true. The math never changed. The only thing that changed was the Supreme Court with its three new conservative justices. They did just what Trump put them on the court to do. And it was us in the mainstream media who failed to note just what a paradigm shift the loss of Roe was — and will continue to be.
Everyone, but especially the media and the chattering classes, has a bias toward normalcy. But there is nothing normal about the loss of bodily autonomy.