After Dobbs, higher stakes

Hadley Arkes writes that although the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade, the cultural and moral logic of Roe has altered the American heart on abortion:

With Roe, the Court removed abortion overnight from a thing to be abhorred and forbidden — and turned it into something that should be endorsed, celebrated, and promoted. Roe is gone, but that moral teaching remains strong, and it is now vibrant in the most populous states where abortions may now be performed massively, with almost no restrictions and inhibitions.

We now find ourselves in our new version of the “House Divided,” and it is an unsteady balance. The power to tilt it one way or another will be in the federal government, and if one side does not reach for those powers, the other side surely will. And if the culture of abortion flourishes in the blue states, the decisive leverage may well fall to them. The pro-life side has become soberly aware now that the overruling of Roe has not diminished the burdens of their work or delivered several hundred thousand unborn children from lethal dangers.

Earlier in the piece Arkes writes that although Dobbs “returned [abortion] to the political arena in the states,” it’s “a trick of the eye to see no role for the federal government any longer on this issue.”

The Supreme Court’s relinquishing of exclusive control over abortion actually raises the stakes, as abortion must now be confronted directly by presidents, governors, and lawmakers just as directly as by those judges and justices who will continue to confront abortion-related litigation.

Focusing on the states without providing clarity for those at the federal level, or simply hoping for the best from a future pro-life president, will not get the job done.