Looking For My Inner Pollyanna–Roe v. Wade Edition

Along with all the other legal mayhem we can now expect from the most reactionary Supreme Court in over a century, most observers predict the demise of Roe v. Wade, despite polling that suggests most Americans would strongly disapprove.

If Roe is overruled, there will certainly be some horrendous consequences. But there may also be some unanticipated positives. Bear with me, here.

We have all recognized the intransigence of the “one issue” anti-choice voter. Without Roe, it’s conceivable (no pun intended) that the wind will go out of that sail. (It will be much more difficult to energize a national movement against birth control, which is actually a target of the most rabid anti-choice activists.) Anti-choice voters have been a mainstay of the GOP–and they will arguably be considerably less motivated.

If Roe is no longer the law of the land, the issue will revert to the states, and a number of states will opt for reproductive choice. Those of us who care about women’s autonomy will need to do some serious fundraising to make it possible for poor women in Red states to travel to states where abortion is legal, and that’s a pain. But even now, with abortion theoretically legal, there are many places in the U.S. where clinics are few and far between; women have to travel long distances, put up with bogus “counseling,” and deal with other barriers to the exercise of the currently constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

What the confirmation of Kavanaugh and the de-nationalization of Roe might do–should do–is redirect liberal and pro-choice energies from national to state-level political action. And that could be a huge game-changer.

The current dominance of the Republican Party doesn’t reflect the desires of the American majority–far from it. GOP numbers have been shrinking steadily; some 24% of voters self-identify as Republican. Their dominance is due primarily to the 2011 gerrymander, and that was made possible because they controlled a large number of state governments. The GOP vote suppression tactics that depressed Democratic turnout and disenfranchised Democratic voters have also been facilitated by state-level control.

The next redistricting will occur in 2021. Between now and then, women, Democrats, liberal-leaning Independents and new voters need to focus their efforts on statehouses around the country. We need to eliminate gerrymandering wherever possible, and we need to put an end to vote suppression tactics.

There will be other strategic decisions necessitated by a rogue Supreme Court. Lawsuits implicating civil rights and civil liberties, for example, may have better prospects in state courts interpreting state constitutions than in the federal system. (When the Supreme Court was less open to arguments from the LGBTQ community, the ACLU and Lambda Legal had some considerable successes in state courts.)

The next few years will be critical. Success will depend upon the “staying power” of those Americans for whom the 2016 election and the travesty of Kavanaugh’s confirmation have been wake-up calls. It’s one thing to post despairing messages to like-minded friends on social media; it’s another thing entirely to continue the day-to-day drudgery of organizing and registering our fellow citizens, and getting out the vote.

If we are going to reclaim the America we thought we had, however, anger and determination are great motivators.


  1. The states controlled by R’s are basically controlled by the Koch’s network. The attacks on the federal government have primarily been funded by them and enacted by their owned pawn – Mike Pence.

    For instance, they certainly don’t want the EPA telling Indiana to increase the number of air monitoring devices or install water monitor equipment for our now polluted waterways.

    The question is, “Will a decision to end legalized abortion at the federal level push the already segregated states?”

    People now have choices where they can live even though progressive states are much more expensive. My retired sister and her hubby do quite a bit of traveling. The difference between red and blue states has become dramatically different in the past several years.

    This sorting will only increase as the Koch’s and other billionaires attack federalism and increase their stranglehold on the 24 states they currently control. And if you think funding is an issue…guess who increases their personal stakes in public institutions in those Nanny states?

    The end game for the Koch’s is owning and controlling everything. Even a woman’s body, if allowed.

    By the way, who do you think assisted Facebook and Twitter in censoring over 800 pages of alternative media sites? Trump has even demanded access to those people and websites who are “anti-Trump”.

    If you think there is a silver lining to authoritarianism, you might want to rethink that.

    Orwell was a prophet.

  2. “What the confirmation of Kavanaugh and the de-nationalization of Roe might do–should do–is redirect liberal and pro-choice energies from national to state-level political action. And that could be a huge game-changer.”

    Dear Pollyanna Kennedy, et al; have you counted the number of red states in this country? You would probably be correct in that de-nationalization of Roe would be a “huge game-changer” but, as the red states are already ignoring, side-stepping or overriding the Constitution, the results would go against pro-choice by a large majority. And Roe would be but a small segment of that “huge game-changer”; loss of civil rights, voting rights, access to birth control, full anti-abortion will be established, loss of all LGBTQ rights, loss of access to medical care and the establishment of one national religion for all.

    The polls give us no actual information and changes from hour to hour; Hurricane Michael is going to play a huge negative part in the mid-term election. People are seeking food and water and shelter from the elements; polling places have been destroyed along with their homes, businesses, schools and places of worship along with transportation to reach polls on November 6th. Hundreds of thousands still have no power; those voter registrations in southern states are still in limbo…and 70% of them are Black registrants…or attempted registrants. Watching Trump’s “60 Minutes” interview with Leslie Stahl was a frightening exhibition of what this country has become; the polls which followed that interview show many in this country APPEAR to have given up…and Congress remains idle.

    “If we are going to reclaim the America we thought we had, however, anger and determination are great motivators.”

    To all intents and purposes; the Republican, conservative, right-wing evangelical, neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, KKK, Trump faction appears to be angrier (“lock her up” meaning Trump’s woman enemy of the hour) and more determined than the Democrats and the Democratic party and voters…they also have all the money to maintain their motivation.

    Kavanaugh has been quoted as saying birth control is an abortion producing drug. He has also been quoted at saying Roe vs. Wade has been determined as the law of the land by SCOTUS where he now sits and can vote to repeal that in toto. I have forgotten the end of Pollyanna’s story….how did she come out on that?


  3. One thing to remember is that the right wing has nearly unlimited funds for lawsuits and they would have no trouble going from state to federal court on any issue. It should be noted that the federal courts are being packed with right winged idealogues whose purpose on the bench will only be served when no one who is not a white, Christian male will have any rights at all. They will take the cases and find for their buddies.

    Feeling a bit pessimistic.


  4. Good heavens…….let “Pollyanna Kennedy” say something that JoAnn Green doesn’t like and…….
    I guess that’s what makes this site , and life generally, so unpredictable if often frustrating.

  5. If the Reactionary-Right Wing- Evangelical Republican Party reverses Roe V. Wade, what makes anyone think they will stop there? Federal Laws banning abortion and other methods of Birth Control would not be far behind. President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence are busy packing the courts.

    Consider the following:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a deal on 15 nominations—marking one of the Senate’s final items on its to-do list before a weeks-long recess.

    The agreement was negotiated by leadership in both parties, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). And under Senate rules, any one senator could have objected to McConnell’s request to set up the Thursday votes—no one did.

    Leslie Proll, an advisor to the NAACP, said Democrats were taking the wrong message away from the months-long Kavanaugh fight.

    “We need them to resist at every turn [and] never be complicit. If Trump wants judges, Dems need to fight with every tool they’ve got, not grease the wheels,” Proll said in a tweet.

    McConnell and the Senate GOP caucus set a record in July for the number of appeals court judges confirmed during a president’s first two years.

    Schumer received a blistering from progressive outside groups when he accepted a deal in August that let senators reclaim part of the summer recess.

    With a simple majority needed for nominations, Democrats can’t block them on their own forcing them to weigh the value of dragging out the procedural clock versus giving their senators more time to campaign.

    But progressive outside groups want to see Democrats use any procedural tactics available to slow down Trump’s nominees. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/411075-progressives-fume-over-senate-deal-on-trump-judicial-picks

    When Obama tried to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, McConnell blocked him. The Corporate Democratic Establishment now with a chance to slow down President Agent Orange, Pastor Pence and McConnell, took their usual course of action and rolled over and played dead.

    Schumer, just bitched slapped the Woman’s Movement and kicked Progressive Men in the groin. There is an old saying, “You can’t tell the players, with out a score card”. Now we have a group of Corporate Establishment Democrats playing for the other team.

    So much for Voting Blue, we do not even know what team they maybe playing for.

  6. This view immediately brought to mind the infamous military expression from the Vietnam war,
    “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” Huh?

  7. President Agent Orange was one of the original “Birthers”. No matter what Obama produced the “Birther Movement” claimed it was a fraud of some sort.

    President Agent Orange labeled Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” as a way of mocking her claim of Native American heritage. The proof is now in. A DNA Test has revealed, Elizabeth Warren on Monday published a DNA analysis that provides strong evidence she does, in fact, have Native American heritage.

    “I never expected my family’s story to be used as a racist political joke,” the Massachusetts senator tweeted, “but I don’t take any fight lying down.”

    Warren made a midterms-related political play of her own, writing: “I took this test and released the results for anyone who cares to see because I’ve got nothing to hide. What are YOU hiding, [Donald Trump]? Release your tax returns – or the Democratic-led House will do it for you soon enough. Tick-tock, Mr President.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/15/elizabeth-warren-native-american-dna-test-results

    Of course DNA tests are science, so the followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence will ignore it.

  8. Don Sherfick; Indianapolis, Indiana is still part of the United States of America which still allows freedom of speech…and thought…for the time being. I worked for the City of Indianapolis under the Mayor Hudnut administration when Sheila was head of City Legal Division; at that time she had a strong reputation for speaking directly so everyone knew exactly where she stood on all legal issues. That is why I voted for her when she made her bid for the seat in the Indiana Senate; I was very disappointed when she lost. She expects the same direct responses from her readers; certainly doesn’t need her ego stroked from anyone who comments on her blog. We are not required to agree with her or with each other; my response was civil and I used the name “Pollyanna” with tongue in cheek as I think she used it. Pollyanna, she ain’t. If she doesn’t like what I say; she will let me know.


  9. Ms. Kennedy,

    I posted a comment at about 11:20. It never appeared and seems to have vanished. Is it lost, or simply misplaced?

  10. Wray; I had no comments, including my own, posted for at least 2 hours or so. Hacking by domestic or foreign agents? Hope your comment appears; always interesting.

  11. We -Democrats- manages to mobilize twice to elect and re-elect Obama, while losing a majority of state legislative chambers and governorship, as well as both Houses of Congress. And yes, that enabled much of the gerrymandering by GOP controlled states. But gerrymandering isn’t the only problem. Geographic clustering plays a big part in continued GOP control. Look at the last electoral map and you’ll see archipelagos of blue strung across an ocean of red. Redistricting won’t entirely solve that problem. Democrats will have to come up with policies and messaging that appeals to voters that make up that ocean. Otherwise, we’ll be in the GOP grip for a long time.

  12. Three points today. (re-post of my original comment)

    1) As I have mentioned here before, I moved to northern Florida (Columbia County) in November of last year. After registering to vote I went to the local elections bureau and requested contact information for the local Democrat party. They laughed. Literally. They said there was no such thing. I searched social media and found nothing. Finally I called the state Democrat party, explaining to the person who answered my problem and asked to speak to someone in charge. I was told no one was available and they would get back to me. I left my phone, email and address and waited. Nothing. I repeated this process FOUR more times. Now eleven months later I have not heard from them

    I also contacted Democrat organizations in neighboring counties, the UAW retiree chapter in Ocala, emailed Gwen Graham (then seeking the gubenatorial nomination), and since, Andrew Gillum’s organization and even sent a hail Mary email to the national Democrat party. Nothing except an, “I’ll get back to you” from both Graham and Gillum. Still waiting.

    I asked a nurse in my doctor’s office if she knew any Democrats. “I know a lot of Democrats,” she told me. “Would you help me if I could start an organization, I asked her?” “Yes,” she said. Back in the day I would have underwritten the costs myself. I’m retired now and my income is much reduced so I cannot.

    Florida is a critical state in a critical election. Why does no one care?

    2) Monotonous’ first comment today about judges is on point–and I have raised it here before. Schumer is worthless and should be replaced by someone willing to fight (read, Kamala Harris). Rolling over and playing dead will never succeed and sends a discouraging message to those of us who really give a damn about the horrors being visited on our country on a daily basis.

    3) I am amazed how Ms. Kennedy can produce a blog on a daily basis which is so informative, thought provoking and relevant.

  13. I live in a blue state. NY. We have our share of illiberal authoritarians longing for the past but they typically, thanks to democracy, get out voted. We were part of the Union during the Civil War and are still part of it compared to Koch states who want to return to 50 tiny weak countries trying to survive in a world of super powers. We still honor the Constitution as it was conceived, and are partnered with New England and the West Coast in keeping alive the traditions of our founders.

    We are successful in business thanks to our progressive bent, preparing for what’s here and coming instead of what was.

    If we have to protect the freedom of all of our citizens we will. We did during the Revolution and Civil Wars and will again but hope that it can be done politicially rather than militarily.

    We are the melting pot. Our liberal democracy is what makes us successful. We are united with other states who remember who we are and what got us here. We still salute the Constitution not the Kochs.

  14. Wray,

    Re: ” I am amazed how Ms. Kennedy can produce a blog on a daily basis which is so informative, thought provoking and relevant.”

    Agree and thank you Ms. Kennedy!


  15. Thanks for helping me to see past the disaster of the Kavanaugh confirmation. We need some light at this end of this horrible tunnel.

  16. Jo Ann Green:

    I know all of that……and also know, as both you and Sheila do…that the First Amendment applies only to the federal government and doesn’t impact commentary or relationships such as those on this blog. Hence I don’t have an absolute right to say “lighten up”.

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