When The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this morning, eliminating American women’s constitutional right to an abortion while essentially making abortion illegal in half The United States, The Republican Party exposed a damning and critical weakness in its thinking, rendering itself ideologically irrelevant at best and authoritarian at worst. The Court’s 5-4 vote split near-evenly across partisan lines, with 5 conservative justices voting for, 3 liberal justices voting against, and conservative Justice John Roberts seeking to uphold Roe v. Wade while also backing Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
It was Roberts alone who voted like a conservative.
Central to conservative ideology is the notion that government should be limited. It’s not a casual or throwaway notion; quite the contrary, these guys are (or purport to be) dead-serious about it. Per conservative thinking, human governance is always but a hair’s breadth away from authoritarian rule. Reason being, the human animal is inclined toward self-interest, and as such is inclined to exploit, bully, and overtake his fellow humans. As such, it pays to limit governance: low taxes, scarce regulation, staying out of people’s way, leaving human beings alone to live out their ideal lives, per their own characters and their own natures, in maximum freedom.
The principles of conservatism are so longstanding in American thought that they’ve seeped below the level of ideology and become a fundamental aspect of American culture. To wit: even the proudest Democrat you know doesn’t cheer while doing their taxes. Americans have a “don’t tread on me” mentality: left, right, in between. It’s part of our founding; it’s among our core assumptions about the way things should work, how things should be.
Conservatives hold freedom as their foremost value as the proud alternative to being ruled by kings. They deem America exceptional as they deem the country a radical experiment in human freedom. They thus cherish capitalism, fostering as it does an environment in which human beings can compete openly in pursuit of excellence, amassing fortune while accumulating greatness. Along the way, conservatives seek to limit government – government in any/every form – perceiving its presence as hindrance, not helper; enemy, not friend.
Unless of course government is being used to micromanage women’s bodies.
The hypocrisy would be comical were it not so harrowing. Here is a form of political ideology that’s convinced within an inch of its life that regulating human behavior never works, always backfires, helps no person, limits freedom, and contributes to a bleaker world, and yet that ideology is all too eager to harness regulation if it can attempt to stand between a woman and her right to choose.
Abortions will go on. Where they’re legal, they’ll now be harder to schedule, as a result of an influx of patients from other states. Where they’re illegal, they’ll be performed (less safely) underground. Conservative ideology presees this outcome. For conservative ideology, at its root, perceives the fundamental truth that human beings do not like to be controlled.
On this topic, however (and others, but we’ll stick here for now), they eagerly sell out their values. Religion plays a role, of course, but in general the anti-abortion mindset is fueled by a hyper-sentimentality surrounding fetuses. Per the mindset, full stop: fetuses are innocent and helpless beings. We must therefore suspend any notion of women – without whom fetuses cannot sustain, much less exist – bearing too much freedom. Better they bear children. Their choice? It’s meaningless.
The government can handle it.
It gets worse. The hypocrisy isn’t some mere footnote. We can’t say with a straight face, “Conservatives value freedom in almost every regard, although there are exceptions…” No, the point I make is scarier:
Conservatives are actually opting, in their hallucination of what it means to grant freedom, to induce life in the name of freedom. To impose upon women unwanted kids. To mandate the traditional family unit. To break lives, thwart futures, inhibit women’s talents and dreams, bog down American households in choices not their own. No, the state chooses. When they mock welfare, conservatives speak often of “the nanny state.” But in their world, we all deserve a “mommy state.” This state makes the decision as to who bears children, and it is every woman, everywhere, no matter the given circumstances of her pregnancy (rape, incest, broken condom – it’s irrelevant).
As to the fetuses compelled toward birth, their grant of freedom, as we know, begins expiring once they draw their first breaths. That’s when the state abandons them. No more services. No more governance. No more notion of the government actually being useful, let alone a protector. From Day One, the new babies are on their own. Their parents didn’t want them. The world won’t raise them.
And in time, the babies will grow into adults, and they’ll come to realize that their country, despite its fantasies of freedom, is being run by hypocrites, and ruled by kings.