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Staying Out of the Abortion Fight

[1]1,660 words

Alabama effectively banned abortion in its state this week. The new law only allows abortions if they are needed to save the life of the mother; incest and rape exceptions are not granted. Doctors who perform the procedure [2] face up to 99 years in jail.

This anti-abortion move follows Georgia passing a heartbeat bill last week [3]. Georgia’s new law outlaws abortions for fetuses where a heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs six weeks after conception. Ohio passed a similar bill to Georgia’s last month. Republicans in Missouri [4], Wisconsin [5], and other states have also advanced anti-abortion legislation.

These measures have caused an uproar among liberals. Some celebrities called for a sex strike [6] to force men into being pro-choice. Hollywood studios may boycott [7] Georgia, a prime destination for filming, over the heartbeat bill. Other industries are also being encouraged to boycott these states until they withdraw their bills. Journalists complained that these bills were crafted and passed by white men [8], a popular argument that magically turns the other side into evil Nazis. Feminists shriek that these states are making The Handmaid’s Tale a reality, and that women now have no control over their bodies.

All of these laws will be challenged in court and likely overturned. The purpose of these bills is to challenge current abortion laws and potentially eliminate Roe v. Wade. A Supreme Court stacked with conservative justices presents an opportune time to try this stratagem. Whatever happens, these laws clearly escalate the abortion debate. Republicans – in state legislatures, at least – are finally delivering on a policy promise to restrict abortions. It’s rare for Republicans to actually deliver on such a matter, particularly one as controversial as abortion. They’re willing to risk being called women haters and bigoted patriarchs to defend the unborn. It’s a bold move, regardless of your own views. The important question for identitiarians is how we should view this development. Is this a sign that Republicans may finally advance the interests of white America?

Not quite. Abortion, regardless of your personal views, is separate from the identitarian cause. White birth decline is not caused by abortion. If anything, there’s an argument to be made that abortion partially stalls America’s demographic transformation. Non-whites, particularly blacks, have more abortions per capita [9] than whites. Banning abortion won’t reverse white birthrates, and may actually exacerbate our decline.

Pro-lifers have made themselves integral to any Right-wing coalition in America. (That’s not necessarily the case in Europe.) And it’s not because of public opinion. According to a 2018 Pew Forum study [10], 58 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Only 37 percent say it should be illegal. The numbers have remained relatively the same since 1995. The numbers change, however, when respondents are asked if they are pro-choice or pro-life. According to a 2018 Gallup poll [11], Americans are evenly split at 48 percent between identifying themselves as either pro-life or pro-choice.

It appears that many of the people who identify as pro-life believe most abortions should be legal but personally oppose the practice. This is a standard position among some moderate Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton’s former running mate Tim Kaine [12]. It creates the impression that abortion is bad, but it shouldn’t be criminalized, like cigarette smoking or alcohol.

The bad news for conservatives is that young people are more likely to call themselves pro-choice. 56 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say they are pro-choice. This contradicts the conservative narrative that millennials are the “pro-life generation [13].” Based on the evidence, millennials may in fact be the pro-choice generation. And a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute [14] found that 65 percent of young adults (18-29) believe abortion should be legal in most cases. Only 44 percent say it offends their personal values.

Deep red states also boast [15] surprising figures on abortion. The majority of adults in Montana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma believe abortion should be legal. The only states where strong majorities believe it should be illegal are in the South.

Abortion is also not that important issue to voters. In 2016, it ranked second to last [16] in issue importance among voters, just slightly above the treatment of LGBT individuals. Polling [17] also shows that it’s a more important issue for Democrats than it is for Republicans. The voters turning out on Election Day because of abortion are more likely to be pro-choice than pro-life.

If the majority of Americans want abortion laws to be left roughly the same, then why are Republicans so insistent on restricting it? The answer lies in the power of the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers have made every Republican and conservative stand against abortion due to their impressive institutional power and influence over Evangelical voters.

Abortion has become the primary issue among social conservatives after the legalization of gay marriage. But Evangelicals weren’t always pro-life. The Southern Baptist Convention issued a declaration [18] in 1971 that justified abortion in cases of “rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” It was the Religious Right that made opposition to abortion a cornerstone of their ideology, and Evangelicals followed suit as the movement gained power. It should be noted that the Religious Right did not form in opposition to Roe v. Wade, as its adherents claim. It actually took shape in opposition to school integration [19], a curious fact considering the current arguments against abortion.

The Evangelical embrace of the pro-life movement has been instrumental to its success. They provide the lion’s share of voters for the movement. Pro-life Evangelicals will volunteer to campaign for pro-life candidates, and many Evangelical groups make abortion their number one issue. Catholics were the first ones to fight against abortion, but the pro-life movement would be much smaller and less influential without Evangelicals. White ethnic Catholics made the GOP [20] more pro-life when they started voting Republican, but they are actually less opposed to abortion than Evangelicals. The majority of Catholics actually believe most abortions should be legal.

The Catholic conservatives and Evangelicals putting aside their differences to focus on this one issue has had a major impact on American political life. The March for Life draws tens of thousands every year due to this coalition.

The pro-life movement has made it impossible to be a pro-choice Republican or conservative commentator. Donald Trump learned this in the Republican primary when he ditched his old pro-choice position in favor of being unequivocally pro-life. He was attacked [21] by his rivals and the Never Trumpers for his past position, and it was argued that this was one of the main reasons Republicans shouldn’t vote for him. Every other Republican presidential candidate was also pro-life.

2016 was quite the contrast from 1996, when then-Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole pushed [22] a platform resolution that called for “tolerance” on abortion. There is no more debate on the topic – especially not within the conservative movement.

Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren received immense backlash from conservative pundits and her then-employer Glenn Beck when she announced that she was pro-choice in 2017. She was derided as a false conservative who didn’t believe in the core principle of the movement. Lahren was fired [23] from her job at Beck’s The Blaze over the matter, in spite of her being one of its most popular hosts. The conservative movement is willing to accept numerous other deviations from orthodoxy; support for abortion is not one of them.

Even as conservatives and Republicans have shed other tenets of social conservatism, opposition to abortion remains as firm as ever. Unlike in the case of gay marriage, pro-life advocates are able to appeal to the progressive zeitgeist in their arguments. Common arguments claim abortion amounts to eugenics, was championed by racists, unfairly targets non-whites and the disabled, and violates the idea that all life is equal.

Black conservative Candace Owens tweeted [24] a good representation of pro-life arguments this week:

62% of abortions in Alabama are performed on black women. Black women are only 7% of the population but account for over 40% of ALL abortions performed in America. Due to abortion, black population growth has stagnated. Planned Parenthood is voluntary genocide for black America.

That sounds like a more deranged version of Black Lives Matter rhetoric.

Pro-life arguments do not challenge the liberal spirit. They merely seek legitimization from liberal orthodoxy. Anti-abortion elements that assault liberal sensibilities are jettisoned. The Alabama law, for instance, absolves women seeking abortions from criminal punishment. This is the same law that mandates lengthy jail sentences for abortionists and assumes abortion is murder. For some reason, the woman is completely innocent, even though she, of her own free will, asks someone to terminate her pregnancy. That would be akin to not punishing the person who hired a hitman to kill someone. If the women seeking abortions were also punished, it would be more logical. It would also be more offensive to liberals and conservative white knights.

Abortion will be a dominant issue in 2020. Democrats have advanced their own pro-choice legislation [25] that allows for an abortion to occur when a fetus is viable. Republicans have responded in kind with heartbeat bills and the Alabama law. Most Americans consider abortion distasteful, but feel it should still be legal. “Safe, legal and rare,” as Bill Clinton used to say, is the popular position. Yet both sides want to overthrow that dictum.

Republicans may come out the losers if Democrats successfully convince women that stodgy white men want to control their bodies. Even though pro-life advocates try their best to appeal to the ruling liberal spirit, their position cannot satisfy our age’s radical individualism. “My body, my choice” triumphs over the fetus’ rights.

Identitarians are best served by not having a set position in this debate. Pro-choicers are allied with the worst elements of the Left and exhibit vile tendencies, while pro-lifers outside of Washington, DC are typically upstanding Middle Americans. It would be easy to take sides based on who’s fighting over the issue, but it must be remembered that this isn’t our fight.