A Critique of Steve McIntosh’s “Proposed National Agreement on Abortion,” Part 2


2. Some logical problems
“As the Dobbs ruling explicitly acknowledges, by placing the issue of abortion beyond the democratic process, Roe has been a contributing cause of America’s bitter culture war for nearly 50 years.”
That’s true, but it’s rather like saying that Brown v. Board of Education has been a contributing cause of the white backlash against it. The other contributing cause of America’s “bitter culture war,” of course, is the 50 year campaign by the Christian right to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Any proposed compromise, of course, must answer these questions: Why would the pro–life side agree to a compromise when they have just won a major legal victory? Because 61% of Americans believe in the right to an abortion.”

This is odd reasoning. If the pro-life side had any regard for public opinion on this issue, they would not have worked tirelessly for decades to thwart the majority by eliminating Roe. Moreover, it is clear from the right wing’s activities since Dobbs (activating trigger laws, seeking restrictions on women’s travel rights, pushing for a federal ban on abortion, etc.), that they are not interested in a compromise of any kind. Most of the anti-choice states won’t even allow exceptions for rape or incest. To attribute democratic principles to the anti-abortion crowd is wishful thinking. So why would the “pro-life” side agree to a compromise after winning a major victory? They won’t.

“Conversely, why would the pro-choice side be willing to compromise on this cornerstone of women’s rights?”

Pro-choice advocates will point out that Roe v. Wade was the compromise. It affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion along with the establishment of a viability criterion that protected fetal rights after six months. That restriction did not please pro-choice advocates who favored no restrictions at all or critics who disagreed with the timeline. But, with the passing of time, it came to be accepted by a majority of the population. Perhaps SM’s argument is that a better compromise is available, one that represents a win-win-win for all concerned. We will see if that is the case.