It seems like only yesterday the Left went to war to stop Judge Brett Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court. Crackpots and charlatans flocked to the call for accusations, no matter how fictional, that might sink his nomination. The Left extracted a compromise from squishy Republicans to give the FBI enough time to frame . . . er, “investigate” Kavanaugh before proceeding to a confirmation vote. The Left is still furious at FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to gin up a predicate for stopping Kavanaugh’s eventual confirmation.
Even then, it was very clear that the public relations assault had nothing to do with Kavanaugh’s history with the opposite sex. As they tried to weaponize sketchy sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh, we learned later that Democrats suppressed allegations of sexual abuse committed by their own leaders and supporters (Andrew Cuomo, Harvey Weinstein, U.S. Represenative John Conyers, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Bill Clinton to name just a few examples). When these leaders were held accountable, it usually followed a long period of cover-ups and denials by their political allies.
But Democrats didn’t really care about whether Kavanaugh committed sexual assault in the 1980s. It was, everyone knew, all about abortion.
So when the Supreme Court appeared to take a step toward remanding the abortion issue back to state legislatures in its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Reeve, I found myself bracing for the kind of hurricane of public outrage that swept the media during Kavanaugh’s confirmation. It didn’t come. Compared to the drama of the late summer of 2018, you could hear crickets. Why?
Here are five factors I believe have caused the Left to de-prioritize abortion as a political issue:
1) The decline in necessity.
If you talk to women who are pro-abortion, you might notice they often tend to be Baby Boomers. The boomers came of age in an era during which the traditional role of a woman as a child-rearer and wife was compared to slavery. Women who chose these traditional roles were made to feel inadequate when compared to those who delayed or avoided having children. In 1972, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, women who chose motherhood had their first child at an average age of 21. Motherhood at that age required forfeiting career and education opportunities that, in the minds of feminist thinkers, prevented women from accessing the promise of equality. That explains why abortion was such an emotional issue to women of that generation.
Today, that average has increased to 26. By the age of 26, an enterprising woman can obtain an advanced degree such as a law degree and begin her career. But more importantly, the delay in motherhood has taken place in the context of dramatic declines in abortion. Since 1972, numerous birth control methods have come to market allowing more women to delay motherhood without the drastic step of an abortion. And, it should not be overlooked, young people just have a lot less sex than their grandparents did at the same age.
2) Women increasingly regret missing out on motherhood.
There’s a growing gap between the number of children women want to have and the number they actually have. According to the Institute for Family Studies, women typically report wanting an average of 2.5 children. But, “no matter how creatively [the studies are] sliced and diced, no matter what data source is used, women have fewer kids than they say they want, desire, intend, expect, or consider ideal—for themselves or for society on the whole.”
The empowered women of the 1970s who chose not to have children don’t have daughters and granddaughters to form in their image. And young women today aren’t likely to envy the aging childless feminists spending holidays with their cats or at protest marches. Indeed, many barren feminists now find themselves wondering whether the path of motherhood might have led to greater happiness.
3) The reduced stigma of single parenthood.
In the 1960s and 1970s, popular culture depicted pregnancy as a crisis requiring hard choices among bad options. Should she marry a man she doesn’t love, abort the child, or give it up for adoption?
Today America leads the world in single-parent households with approximately 25 percent of all children growing up in a one-parent family. While this points to a serious social crisis, it also indicates that women increasingly will choose single parenthood over abortion.