On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF ROE V. WADE…. The Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was handed down 38 years ago yesterday, prompting President Obama to issue a statement reaffirming his support for Americans’ reproductive rights.

“I am committed to protecting this constitutional right,” Obama said. Though the statement also expressed his support for policies that would reduce the number of abortions, the president added that the 1973 ruling “affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

It was a welcome reminder. Nationwide, Republican opponents of abortion rights have become increasingly aggressive. While economic conditions helped produce major GOP gains in November, the party has interpreted their electoral victories as grounds for a renewed push to limit reproductive options.

Indeed, recent talk that the right might shift its emphasis from the culture war and social issues to economic and fiscal policy — as suggested in Mitch Daniels’ proposed “truce” — may have been overstated, at least a little. Republicans in Congress are prioritizing abortion restrictions over job creation, and RedState ran an editorial yesterday raising the specter of “mass bloodshed” unless the right gets what it wants on restricting reproductive rights.

Here at RedState, we too have drawn a line. We will not endorse any candidate who will not reject the judicial usurpation of Roe v. Wade and affirm that the unborn are no less entitled to a right to live simply because of their size or their physical location. Those who wish to write on the front page of RedState must make the same pledge. The reason for this is simple: once before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver [sic] or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support.

The sentiment was preceded with the all-too-common refrain connecting Roe v. Wade to Dredd Scott, and a clumsy understanding of history. As Mark Kleiman explained, “The Civil War started not because the abolitionists lost a Supreme Court decision, but because the slavemasters lost an election. But the basic threat is clear: if the lunatic right-to-lifers can’t end abortion by lawful means plus the occasional assassination, they’ll resort to mass violence.”

Also note, the RedState editorial references with Declaration of Independence, with the belief that its principles were “subsequently enshrined” in the Constitution. This, too, is a common approach on the far-right — the Constitution doesn’t deliver the way conservatives would like, so they take language from the Declaration and effectively conclude, “These count as constitutional principles, too.” It’s a handy way to try to force notions of God and natural law into the Constitution, as part of a larger ideological agenda.

Nevertheless, the rhetoric itself is a stark reminder that social conservatives have lost influence as a driving force in contemporary conservatism, but they haven’t gone away.