Does she mean the draft?

I don’t think she means the draft.

If Dems want to have an argument about which side of the abortion debate more closely resembles the logic of slaveholding, okay, but that debate will be spirited. On the one hand Harris wants to compare slavery to a couple choosing to have sex and then finding one avenue of resolving the resulting pregnancy foreclosed to them. What similar choice did slaves supposedly make to bring on their own ordeal? What alternatives did they have to ownership by whites from cradle to grave?

On the other hand you have pro-lifers noting that slavery justified cruelty to innocents by treating them as less than human. Where personhood is denied, atrocities will follow. As with slavery, so too with abortion.

Anyway, strong “they’re gonna put y’all back in chains” vibes here.

Harris reaching for a slavery analogy while addressing the NAACP isn’t just a matter of a clunky retail politician straining to connect with her audience. The Times notes today that black Democrats have become more pro-choice over the years (especially younger generations) but continue to run a bit behind non-black Democrats in their support for legal abortion. Older, more religious African-Americans trend more conservative on the issue, producing a small racial divide within the party. Whereas 88 percent of Dems support legal abortion in all or most cases, 75 percent of black Dems do. While 66 percent of non-black Democrats say they find abortion morally acceptable, just 50 percent of black Democrats say so.

Harris is trying to reframe the moral argument for an audience whose older members might otherwise be skeptical. If they don’t find abortion moral on the merits, maybe they’ll soften up if it’s presented as a matter of civil rights and basic autonomy. In fact, the Times notes, at an event earlier this month she reminded her audience that the states moving to ban abortion are the same states moving to restrict voting rights. She’s trying to pitch being pro-choice as a matter of racial justice.

Pro-lifers have an answer to that too. Legal abortion on demand has led to a staggering, disproportionate share of black children being killed in the womb relative to white ones. “Black women have the highest abortion rate at 23.8 per 1,000 women, compared with 6.6 per 1,000 white women, according to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Times notes. It’s a weird form of racial justice that sees black babies being culled at a much higher rate than those of other races and pronounces it empowering.

Abortion as racial justice will be a Democratic message tailored to specific audiences. For the wider population, they’re going to stick to horror stories about how state restrictions — or at least the cautious interpretation of them by some medical pros — are leading to life-threatening situations for some women. Case in point:

Another woman who lives in Texas said she was sent home from the hospital while having a miscarriage, presumably because doctors there were nervous about running afoul of the law if they moved too soon to terminate her pregnancy:

Amanda said the hospital didn’t mention the abortion law, but sent her home with instructions to return only if she was bleeding so excessively that her blood filled a diaper more than once an hour. Hospital records that Amanda shared with The New York Times noted that her embryo had no cardiac activity during that visit and on an ultrasound a week earlier. “She reports having a lot of pain” and “she appears distressed,” the records said.

“This appears to be miscarriage in process,” the records noted, but suggested waiting to confirm and advised a follow-up in seven days.

Once home, Amanda said, she sat on the toilet digging “fingernail marks in my wall” from the pain. She then moved to the bathtub, where her husband held her hand as they both cried. “The bathtub water is just dark red,” Amanda recalled. “For 48 hours, it was like a constant heavy bleed and big clots.”

There’s a similar account from New Orleans, which is now part of a lawsuit challenging the state’s trigger ban:

I’m not sure what sort of statutory reassurance doctors would need to let them move forward with abortions in cases like these without fear of prosecution. Every state permits abortion to save the life of the mother, even Idaho. Legislatures in states where abortion is banned should have already consulted with their local state medical board for suggestions on language that would clarify that doctors have broad discretion to terminate a pregnancy that’s nonviable or harming the patient. There has to be some limit to that discretion or else it would become an all-purpose loophole for abortion on demand, but “in agony, bleeding profusely” should obviously make the cut in any state.

By the way, several Senate Republicans recently introduced a bill that would force fathers to pay child support once a pregnancy is detected. I can’t tell you how many times on social media I’ve seen a pro-choicer float that idea sarcastically, as if it’s a dealbreaker that would suddenly drive home to pro-lifers how burdensome pregnancy is, only to find pro-lifers eagerly receptive to the idea. If a woman carries to term, of course the child’s father should have to support her financially during her pregnancy and beyond. The GOP bill is aimed at making sure women who want their babies don’t have to fend for themselves during a difficult time — and, maybe, to shift the law towards recognizing that personhood begins at contraception, a precondition for a total national ban. I’m skeptical that Republicans will ever dare follow through on legislation like that, knowing how unpopular it would be, but pleasing the loudest and most uncompromising members of their base is what the modern GOP is all about. Stay tuned.

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