The New Abortion Prohibition Era

“even if large majorities shared the pro-life view, anti-abortion laws are still very different from laws against murder in an important respect. When there is such deep, sincerely held disagreement about matters of such personal import, when hundreds of thousands of women every year personally weigh the factors and decide that an abortion is the right choice, that is a signal that new prohibition regimes will be extremely costly, and perhaps ultimately unjustifiable. Not everything bad must be banned. In the last three decades, abortions have fallen precipitously, from a high of 1.4 million in 1990, even as the law has remained largely unchanged, suggesting that even those who believe abortion to be a moral nightmare have other options at their disposal and that those other tools were working. We should seriously consider whether the outcomes are better all around if governments leave it to individuals to persuade each other, help each other, and talk to each other.
To do that, Americans need to be able to speak freely about abortion. They will need to share information about how abortions work and who gets them. And they’ll need to do that in broad daylight, so that bad information doesn’t go unchecked. This will be more difficult in states that choose more draconian criminalization regimes.”

“As with other prohibitions, poor people and minorities will suffer most. People without resources in states with harsh restrictions will carry unwanted babies to term and, if current trends hold, they will most often keep them despite financial or personal difficulties they will face in doing so. Wealthy women will be able to travel to get abortions, and they will be able to hire lawyers to get them out of trouble when they get caught. In those cases, the new laws won’t stop those women from getting abortions; instead they will simply get abortions secretly, unsupported, at greater expense, and far from home.

It’s been a while since first-trimester abortions were illegal anywhere in the United States. But we have spent the decades since Roe experimenting with all kinds of other prohibitions, and all we have for our trouble is a trail of death and destruction.”

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