Abortion Storm Clouds

Historians shudder a lot these days. But nothing has made me more nervous than this: Life-or-death moral imperatives are being tied to states and regions. We’ve seen this before and it led to the most horrific war in American history.

1860_Electoral_Map

We’ve been divided along moral and geographic lines before…

We don’t want to be hyperbolic or hysterical. The historical precedent, though, is clear and alarming. In the years before the 1860 presidential election, major parties like the Democrats and Whigs tended to have support in both North and South. In that crucial contest, though, the regions divided cleanly and ominously.

With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to SCOTUS, we’re seeing worrying trends. In my home state, for example, Governor Cuomo has pledged to take steps to preserve abortion rights in case a new SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade.

At the same time, as Bill Scher has pointed out, sixteen other states already have laws on the books that ban abortion. If SCOTUS were to overturn Roe v. Wade, those states would become “Life States,” while places like New York and California would become “Rainbow” or “Freedom” states.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has put together a map of what the country might look like. In a scarily similar way to 1860, we see a clear geographic divide between states that would allow abortion and states that would ban it.

abortion map 2018

CPR’s 2018 divisions…

What will happen? No one knows, least of all historians. The precedent, however, of tying a fundamental value to a geographic entity is alarming.

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