What's More Important than Reducing Abortions?

What's More Important than Reducing Abortions?

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 22 2008 1:51 PM

What's More Important than Reducing Abortions?

Eric:  Well, no surprise -- abortion politics is complicated, borne of a mix of disparate objectives and tactics.  You don't doubt, do you, that the legislation Dawn described would likely increase the total number of abortions?  Dawn's point was not so much that there aren't some components of the Republican coalition you were discussing who sincerely wish to reduce the number of abortions -- of course there are -- but simply that such objectives do not predominate within that coalition:  The fact that the proposed legislation might well result in an actual increase in abortions suggests that many (not all) components of that coalition are as much or more interested in other objectives, such as increasing the number of unwanted births, controlling the nature and understanding of motherhood, and, principally, diminishing women's sexual freedom (if the availability of contraception diminishes, all the better!), than they are in simply reducing the number of abortions.  (Kristin Luker's two-decade-old work is still invaluable here.)

Marty Lederman teaches constitutional law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel 2009-10 and an attorney advisor in OLC 1994-2002. He has been a regular contributor to several legal blogs, including Just Security, Balkinization, and SCOTUSblog.