Divided States of America: Roe v Wade is ‘precursor to larger struggles’

“You put your babies in the womb, you will be held accountable!” yelled Steve Corson, tall, bearded and jabbing a finger at women who chanted back: “My body, my choice!”

Corson took a deep breath and blew into a shofar. Then Nathan Darnell, wearing a “Jesus Christ is king” cap and holding aloft a cross, grabbed a megaphone.

“You guys are demon-possessed!” declared the 19-year-old from Haymarket, Virginia. “You guys are controlled by demons, all of you. Every child has a right to life.”

Suddenly Darnell was surrounded by abortion rights protesters brandishing placards. He kept talking.

“You guys are evil. The downfall of America is because of every one of you.”

The national day of prayer last Thursday was anything but a solemn occasion outside the supreme court in Washington, where hours earlier an unscalable black fence had been erected, reminiscent of the one that surrounded the US Capitol after the January 6 insurrection.

The fury was unleashed by a leaked draft opinion that showed the nation’s highest court provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade, 그만큼 1973 ruling that effectively legalised abortion. It was a political earthquake that revealed American women are perilously close to losing a fundamental right.

It was also a milestone in America’s seemingly inexorable journey from United States to divided states. The likely demise of Roe v Wade could drive the biggest wedge yet between what appear to be two irreconcilable nations coexisting under one flag.

Liberal states would become sanctuaries for women seeking abortions and saturated with providers; conservative states would turn into deserts that ban the procedure and criminalise doctors who provide it. Some wonder if the country’s social fabric, frayed by four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, can survive.

“The death of Roe is going to tear America apart,” ran the headline of a New York Times column by Michelle Goldberg, which concluded that “the death of Roe will intensify our national animus, turning red states and blue into mutually hostile legal territories. You think we hate each other now? Just wait until the new round of lawsuits start.”

Simon Schama, a historian, 누군가 이것을 시도할 것입니다 – 나는 그것이 적대적인 정부인지 아니면 내 자신의 정부인지 확신할 수 없었습니다.: “When Roe vs Wade is overturned it will be time to find a different name for this country.”

The supreme court’s draft majority opinion, written by Samuel Alito and circulated on 10 이월, was leaked to Politico 월요일에. It argued in contemptuous tones that Roe v Wade “was egregiously wrong from the start” and “enflamed debate and deepened division”.

Four other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – agreed that Roe “must be overruled”. If that decision becomes final, possibly next month, it will tear down a national precedent and turn America into a chaotic legal patchwork.

The first restrictions would take effect in 13 states with so-called trigger laws to be enacted once Roe is overturned. Some such laws ban abortions almost completely while others would outlaw it after six or 15 주. The speed of trigger laws could vary. 텍사스에서, a near-total ban would go into effect 30 days after a supreme court decision.

그만큼 Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organisation, estimates that 26 의 50 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned, leaving women in swaths of the south-west and midwest without access. 에 11 states there would be no exemptions for rape and incest. Republicans in Louisiana are even considering a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge those having abortions with homicide.

Most states where abortion would still be legal are on the west coast or in the north-east. The California governor, Gavin Newsom, 월요일에 proposed enshrining a right to abortion in the state constitution. In Oregon, Democrats recently passed a bill to create a $15m fund to assist with the costs of abortion, including for women from outside the state.

Women might have to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion. This is likely to be especially difficult for women in poverty, often including women of colour, and lead to a sharp climb in unsafe abortions. Republican-led states have already made efforts to restrict abortion pills, which can be prescribed through online visits.

There have been fierce disputes over healthcare, immigration and race in recent years – the journalist Carl Bernstein has spoken of a “cold civil war” – but few can match the raw emotional power of reproductive rights. That much was clear outside the fortified supreme court on Thursday, as two vociferous groups faced off.

Rev Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said into a microphone: “We look forward to the day when abortion ends up on the scrap heap of history like chattel slavery and segregation.”

Rochelle Rubin, 약 20 paces away, shouted: “You don’t have a uterus! Shut up!”

Her voice shaking, Rubin, 50, an estate agent and lawyer, explained later: “This is personal for me. I was born the last year that women could not have abortions. My mother had no choice. Had she made the choice she would have had me, but women of her generation did not have choice.

“If I didn’t have a choice, my life would be very different today than it would have been. Ten years years ago I exercised my choice and had an abortion. 에 대한 50 years you can have a right – and it could be taken away by five people.”

Even as abortion rights activists shouted “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” and held placards such as “Women’s bodies are more regulated than guns”, Mahoney said he was “overjoyed” by the draft opinion but acknowledged the societal shockwaves.

그는 말했다: “Can America get any more divided than we are? Tragically, yes it can. We certainly saw that happen on January 6, which was tragic. I would say we have to find a way to address this. Let’s deal locally so if you have California on one end and Alabama on another end, let’s just work on that.”

Mahoney, 68, 추가: “What you see on the streets is the cutting edge of the cultural fault lines that we see in our country. We saw that with the tragic murder of 조지 플로이드. But our nation went through this upheaval and we’re moving forward so that’s what I hope happens here.”

The interview was repeatedly interrupted as Mahoney broke off to restrain fellow anti-abortion activists from confronting female protesters.

“That’s not who we are,”그는 말했다, and it was true that women from the opposing sides engaged in civil conversations while in fundamental disagreement.

But Corson, 65, from Fredonia, 애리조나, gripping his shofar and the Stars and Stripes, was more aggressive. 그는 말했다: “I don’t respect their view at all. They didn’t come out with ‘My body, my choice’ when it came to the [코로나] 백신.

“They have a human body inside them; we speak for that human body; they’re just speaking for themselves. I get sick and tired of these people. They are very corrupt and evil and on the wrong side. It is going to get heated up, no doubt about it. It should. It’s a good issue to get heated up about.”

The great divide on abortion is not a 50-50 split. It is asymmetric. A poll released by the Data for Progress thinktank after this week’s leak showed voters wanted to keep Roe by a two-to-one margin. 민주당, independents and more than a third of Republicans support it.

Its imminent fall is due to a quirk of US democracy that skews the electoral college, Senate and supreme court out of kilter with the popular will. Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett were appointed by Trump, who lost the national popular vote by 3m, after Senate Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s last nominee, Merrick Garland.

This sense of injustice at this democratic deficit – which gives significantly more representation to white citizens than citizens of colour – is only likely to incite anger and dissent as blue states go one way and red states go the other.

Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, 말했다: “The basic structure of politics with all these small rural states being essentially overrepresented is creating the situation where minorities can control the majority. People are going to be furious about it.

“Already friends of mine in New York City talk about not letting their tax dollars go to red states because the irony is that all the blue states send more money to the federal government than they get back and the goddam red states take all the money and then try to run the lives of everybody in the blue states.

“So there really is a war going on and it’s a cultural war but it’s one that they [공화당원] are destined to lose.”

If Roe is struck down, Kamarck noted, it will be the clearest differentiation of rights by state since the era of Jim Crow, when some states racially segregated public places and others did not. This could be a recipe for battles over sovereignty, with red states passing laws to “extradite” anyone who helps their residents get an abortion and blue states passing laws to shield their own doctors.

States have been drifting apart for years, across fault lines characterised as liberal v conservative, Black v white, urban v rural, college-educated v blue collar, Hollywood v heartland, mask wearers v vaccine sceptics and MSNBC v Fox News. 그만큼 2016 presidential election was framed as Trump’s “deplorables” against Hillary Clinton’s “coastal elites”. The supreme court looks ready to toss a grenade into the mix.

Barbara Walter, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and author of How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them, 말했다: “What I fear will happen is that it will further create this urban-rural divide where the more moderate and liberal voices in blue states will move, or their children will move, because they will not want their rights restricted.

“If you’re a big corporation that employs a lot of women, are you going to move to states where they and their daughters are not treated equally or they’re under these increasingly restrictive and medieval laws?”

The fight is under way. A liberal group published the addresses of conservative supreme court justices and encouraged protesters to walk by them. A day of action for abortion rights is planned for Saturday. The issue could also galvanise Democratic turnout in November’s midterm elections.

Eric Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, 말했다: “There will be an effort to turn out young women and their male allies when that decision comes. I hope it doesn’t have to happen but I think it’s going to be the backfire of the century for Republicans.”

The Senate will vote on legislation that would codify abortion rights into federal law but Democrats do not have 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, which means the Joe Biden-backed effort will fail.

There have never been so few Republicans who support abortion rights, nor have there ever been so few Democrats who call themselves “pro-life”.

Fareed Zakaria, an author and broadcaster, warned in the 워싱턴 포스트: “You cannot really understand America anymore by looking at averages. It has become two countries. One is urban, more educated, multiracial, secular and largely left of center. The other is rural, less educated, religious, white and largely right of center.”

Blue America would fit comfortably with northern European Protestant countries, Zakaria said, while red America’s cultural values make it closer to Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

“For the country’s political future, the central question is now this: can these two Americas find a way to live, work, cooperate with and tolerate one another? If not, the abortion battle may be the precursor to even larger struggles.”

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