Rallies around the country and Connecticut this month supporting abortion rights and opposing the new anti-abortion law in Texas were full of bluster and slogans but offered little sound argument.
Foremost among the slogans was "My body, my choice," but no one seemed to notice the far larger violation of that principle happening with the COVID-19 vaccines though they remain experimental.
Vaccine coercion and abortion libertarianism are contradictory principles of the political left.
At the rally in Salisbury, Laurence Rand, a retired teacher who called himself a scholar of constitutional law, noted fears that the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to overthrow its 1973 precedent in the abortion rights case of Roe v. Wade. "We have a Supreme Court that is out of touch with the will of the people," Rand said. "Nowhere is that more evident than in its recent decisions regarding abortion."
But real constitutional scholars understand that in this country courts are commanded to decide cases not according to the popularity of the litigants and their propositions but according to the law. Since neither the federal nor state constitutions mention abortion, it is reasonable to argue that states may legislate about it, as Texas and Mississippi lately have done so controversially.
Rand added that the country will have proper abortion policy "only when we have as many women in Congress and state legislatures as we do men." But this suggestion that men are the main culprits behind restrictive abortion law is ridiculous.
For women are prominent in the anti-abortion movement, and of course many men support abortion rights – among them men who find that they have impregnated women and don't want the responsibility of fatherhood. Even a few politicians who have struck anti-abortion poses have advocated abortion in their personal lives.
Protesting at the Supreme Court in Washington, Elaine Baijal, 19, a student at American University, said that in the 1970s her mother marched with her mother in support of legalizing abortion. "It's sad," Baijal said, "that we still have to fight for our right."
But it's not sad at all. It's democracy. The country remains much divided on abortion and no strong national consensus has been democratically reached, though it's possible to imagine one – a libertarianism that ends upon the viability of the fetus outside the womb. Such a policy would hardly be oppressive, since so many contraceptive devices are available and essentially free for those unable to pay, including "morning-after" pills, and since abortion itself is essentially free for those unable to pay.
Even the greatest liberal of his era in the U.S. Senate, New York's Daniel Patrick Moynihan, called abortion-rights absolutism – the demand for late-term abortion – infanticide.
* * *
HOORAY FOR HOBGOBLINS: According to state Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester, and Frank Hanley Santoro, a former assistant U.S. attorney who wrote an essay published last week in Connecticut's Hearst newspapers, "dark money" from far-right hobgoblins like Koch Industries and the DeVos Family Foundation are financing citizen groups around the country that are challenging school boards over their racial curriculums.
If so, hooray for the hobgoblins, since political influence on public education is not from the far right at all but overwhelmingly from the far left, starting with the teacher unions, which pretty much control the Democratic Party nationally and in Connecticut.
In Connecticut teacher union members commonly serve on school boards where they negotiate and vote on contracts with the local affiliates of the union to which they belong in the nearby towns where they are employed. This is a conflict of interest but it is seldom noted by news organizations or even rival political campaigns.
In Connecticut campaign money and volunteer work provided by teacher unions dwarfs any support provided by the far-right hobgoblins to skeptics of the education establishment.
Indeed, Connecticut has a law actually forbidding school systems from reducing their spending even if their enrollment collapses. The law's point is to ensure that any financial savings in education are diverted to raises for teachers, not returned to taxpayers.
The Koch Brothers and Betsy DeVos didn't push that law on Connecticut. The teacher unions did.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.