Season 1, Episode 1
In episode 1 of the Conversatio podcast Dr. David Williams, Dr. Joseph Wysocki, and Dr. Mary Imparato discuss the history of abortion laws including Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the leak of the potential overturn, and what America might look like after the decision is made.
- The Federalist Society
- Roe v. Wade: A Legal History
- 5 Lies Abortion Supporters Spread About Overturning Roe And How To Counter Them
- What family policy should look like in post-Roe America
- Justice Clarence Thomas: The Left’s Scorched-Earth Tactics Could Destroy American Institutions Like The Supreme Court
- The Big Sort
- Braver Angels
Welcome to Conversatio, The Belmont Abbey College podcast. This podcast focuses on the way of formation and transformation so that each of us reflects God’s image and an ever more palpable and transparent way. I’m Julia Long, and today I’m joined by Dr. Joseph Wysocki, Dr. David Williams and Dr. Mary Imparato, who are all here to talk about a really important issue going on in our society, which is the leak of the potential overturn of Roe versus Wade. Before we dive into this. I want to give each of our experts a chance to introduce themselves. Dr. Williams, do you want to go first?
Fair enough. So I’m David Williams and Vice Provost for academic affairs and dean of faculty here. But before I was captured by admin, I was a professor of theology. And besides a theology doctorate I also have one in political philosophy. So this is kind of pitching down both alleys. Happy to be here.
Thank you, Dr. Williams. Dr. Imparato, you want to go next?
Sure I’m an assistant professor of politics at the Abbey here. I have my doctorate from Rutgers, and I specialize in political theory and public law. And I have a bachelors in government from Harvard.
Great. Thanks for being with us today. Dr. Wysocki, I know you can take us home.
My name is Dr. Joe Wysocki. I’m the dean of the Honors College here at Belmont Abbey. I taught in the political science department for many years. Also, a Belmont Abbey College alum, studied economics and political science here did my doctorate at Baylor University and political philosophy. For me, the study of constitutional law and this moment, this potential moment is huge.So I’m so happy to be here.
Thanks so much. So I think what we often say is that it makes sense to start at the beginning. So maybe a good place to start is just a quick recap of what happened. And then, you know, kind of we can go into the background of why this potential overturn is so important.
Yeah, I could jump in on that. So in 1973, all states had laws that regulated abortion in some way. 30 states prohibited it, others restricted it on January 22nd, 1973 by a seven to two decision. The Supreme Court struck those laws all down, found them all unconstitutional. In the Roe v Wade decision, and they found that abortion is a fundamental right and they uphold this through the 14th Amendment due process clause against the states.So they can’t regulate abortion outside of the framework created by Roe, which was a trimester framework where in the third trimester getting no regulations, they can have some regulations in the second trimester and then not in the first. Right. And so the next key precedent that is getting dealt with here is the Planned Parenthood versus Casey decision that came down in 1994.There’s a lot of question, as you know, whether they’re going to overturn Roe entirely overturned in part insofar as they overturned the semester framework and they set up a new standard where states could not regulate abortion if it posed an undue burden on the woman’s choice. But they were open to, you know, state regulations that might require a like a waiting period for instance.
But things like spousal consent, they said that was an undue burden.
And I’d like to throw in, if I could, there’s a companion case that sort of explains part of why this argument is so much louder here than it is in other developed countries. The same year Roe came down, there was a I don’t think they were actually paired, but their kind of companion cases Doe V. Bolton because Roe had a framework even in the third trimester.
And if the life or health of the mother was in question, that that could trump its trimester framework and what Bolton did, it defined health very expansively. Emotional, familial, financial, social, right. Mental in practice then since 1973 if you could find a medical professional willing to do it, you effectively have an abortion all nine months regime.
And although the majority of abortions take place in a call it the first trimester give it a couple of weeks. Right. Really the vast majority are that it’s those who follow on abortions and the fact that there really is no cutoff right. In U.S. law beyond finding somebody willing to do a late term that makes U.S. law on this subject so radical by comparison with other developed countries.
You know, I think one other important thing in terms of what Casey changes in regards to Roe, and this is one of the reasons that it’s kind of interesting that when Casey comes around, both both pro-choice and pro-life advocates are not really happy with the decision at the time. You know, pro-life advocates are hoping with these newly appointed justices by Ronald Reagan that this is going to be overturned.
And, of course, you know, it’s three Republican appointed justices who write majority opinion to to uphold the central holdings of Roe. On the other hand, pro-choice advocates really don’t like it because there’s this new viability standard, which is kind of vague, right? So you have this this very rigid trimester system that Professor Imparato mentioned in Roe. But now the standard is in cases, viability, right?
So that that this becomes at viability, which is kind of a changing standard. And we’ll see that Alito really deals with this in his opinion. You know, there’s sort of this idea that viability is in the third trimester and Roe but then it’s it’s pushed back earlier and so, you know, some people, you know, who thought there was sort of a pro-life victory in the sense that viability in Casey could be pushed back earlier.
So that could possibly be more regulation. But again, it gets really messy and an Alito hits on on that. This is unworkable. Right. At the end of the day, it’s an unworkable standard.
So we get forward to the Dobbs case. Right. And so this is based on the challenge of a 2018 Mississippi law called the gestational Age Act which prohibits abortions. Very few exceptions after 15 weeks of gestational age. And there was only one abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization who was the respondent in this case that was the only abortion facility left in Mississippi.
They challenged the law and actually the lower courts struck down the law is unconstitutional. Applying the viability standard because viability is not 15 weeks like the loss at 15 weeks. And so when it gets to the court now and Dobbs we see we had our oral arguments in December. And I think people coming out of those oral arguments generally agreed that there was there are
The question was, were they going to have enough votes to actually strike at the precedent to strike at Roe and Casey. And this leaked opinion shows us that they did have five. Interestingly, Chief Justice Roberts is not on this leaked opinion. So there’s based on the oral arguments, there’s some sense that he didn’t want to strike out at the precedent, but he did want to find a way to uphold the Mississippi law.
So he was asking questions like, well, you know, just a few weeks difference between viability and 15 weeks. Isn’t 15 weeks enough time? You know, so he wanted to uphold the law at scene, but he didn’t want to drag out the precedent. So he might write a concurrence. That’s my guess. And so but yeah, you know, there’s five justices, it looks like, who are going to, you know, strike at the precedent involved here and not just uphold this 15 week law, but you know, other laws that states might come up with.
And so it’s really throwing this back into the hands of the people. If this, you know, if this turns out to be issued as it stands.
Now, we’re understanding the history behind us and some of the parallels. So this you know, abortion is a really hot topic in society. Right. And there are two different sides. And I think there are people in the middle who don’t really know where they fall and how they feel. Right. And so this is one of those things that has been in law for quite some time.
And now this leak happens and the future is uncertain. So let’s talk a little bit about your opinions on the leak. I mean, you know, why? Why would someone be willing to risk their career for this?
I’ll start that one. Yeah, I think abortion is we’ve seen has been really a uniquely polarizing issue. Didn’t start out that way in 1973. Right. But over the succeeding years, partly because of weaknesses in Roe’s opinion, partly because the society is just getting more polarized. Right. In the 1970s, you could find pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans in great plenty.
It didn’t break down party lines. That’s almost impossible today. And so great emotional weight became invested in this issue. Personality defining for many people. And often this mean So Roe has a symbolic value that goes beyond what it actually said. Because as Mary was saying it’s really that Casey decision from the 1990 is really controlling for the constitutional law of abortion today.
But everybody fixates on Roe the what happened early last week was the leak to Politico, a Washington Web based news organization of a complete draft opinion from February written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. That as Mary was saying, is that five is a five justice opinion, a draft opinion to overrule Roe and February and draft Explain a lot of what’s going on and why this leak is so horrifying to people.
Clarence Thomas in a speech this week compared it to, well, you can come back from that, from leaks like that, but kind of like cheating in.
Marriage. You can’t you can come back from that, too. But it’s hard because the court’s deliberations are normally extremely secret and drafts fly back and forth. Draft opinions fly back and forth between the justices sometimes for months. And no opinion is final until it’s released because history gives us many cases of justices changing their minds. Sure. At the last minute and the Supreme Supreme Court justices work in tandem with their law clerks, young men and women out of law school, probably who have already clerked or assisted a lower level federal judge before getting to the Supreme Court and clerking for a Justice is like lifetime relationship.
These are very trusted, right? Scalia’s clerks, even though he’s gone, still get together once a year. How this leaked is is unclear whether it leaked from a clerk, whether there was some poor document security somewhere in the Supreme Court or elsewhere. But nobody has ever leaked a complete draft opinion before. It has never, ever, ever happened in all the years of the Supreme Court’s history.
And so the question why some people will think it’s a conservative know to stand firm five justices don’t change your mind. Right. Other people will think it’s a leak from the more liberal side trying to create storm and fury in advance of the opinion. Right. Maybe that will change something. And if it doesn’t. Maybe that will fire people up for the midterm elections.
Right. Midterm elections in November, which are all the polling, all the historical indicators, commentators across the spectrum are saying this does not look like a good midterm election for Team Blue. So you might want to rally the troops.
Politically, politically motivated either way.
Yeah, and I think just taking a step away from, you know, the constitutional law for a minute and it’s sort of a distraction in a way from the decision itself, the leak. But I think it points to these two really important sort of concepts in terms of sort of our moral and political philosophy. They’re the logical extension of these sort of two important observations, I think one by Alexis de Tocqueville and one by Alister McIntyre, who’s a living Catholic political philosopher.
Tocqueville’s one of his most important points in democracy in America is that Democratic people, scorned forms, racial formality, proper procedures, This is something that Democratic people by nature don’t like, but somehow we’ve been able to maintain them despite that. Right. We’ve had the injection of English common law. We’ve had the Constitution. And yet. Right. There’s always that temptation.
And I think increasingly so in our technological age where you can tweet and write and discourse is carried out without norms where institutions and trust in those institutions is low. There’s just more and more willingness in our time, I think, to bypass forms right where where every every form is just a mask for the sort of will to power that we have.
Right. And so upholding for once. Why would I pull these forms if they get in the way of the ends of my party and what we want, right? So it’s sort of an earth kind of mentality. And the other, I think. Right. The response that we’re seeing already you know, to the leak, the intense emotion that Dr. Williams pointed to is because we don’t have a shared vocabulary that we can talk about these things and I think we’re right.
We’ll see this right. And this is Alister McIntyre, you know, points to this. And after virtue in his other books, he says, right, without a common vocabulary to talk about the good and the just ultimately, all we can talk about is all we can do is really give more intense expressions of our emotions right. And I think I mean, that’s so clear now, right?
That, you know, very few people are saying I mean, it’s kind of funny, right? People who conservatives don’t like like Bill Maher the other day. Right. Was like, what? This this weird voice saying, you know, some of the emotional responses to the leak actually. Actually, most European countries have far more restrictive abortion laws than we have in the United States, actually.
Right. Most pro-life people are women. Right. And all these things. Right. At pointing to these actual facts that people didn’t want to look at and consider anyway.
I think you bring up an interesting point about what people believe. And Dr. Prado touched on it earlier when she mentioned rhetoric. So I think, you know, when we are forming an opinion about something, it’s natural to look at the history. But I think it’s also kind of in our human nature to look and consider heavily what’s being said in the moment.
And so I think when people are forming an opinion or a belief about this, they turn to the most commonly stated ideas. And almost sometimes you know, process them as fact. Right. And so I think it’s really important in this discussion that we look at some of the rhetoric around this issue today. And provide a different view.
You just kind of see all this like hair on fire, opinionated men like calm down, you know? And so one of the things you often see is that people say, well, this is going to send women to jail if you have abortions. So this is, you know, no less than a Democratic senator, Chris Murphy. He said women and doctors are going to be sent to jail immediately when his opinion becomes a reality.
And the fact is that no abortion laws and the actual draft opinion goes into like detail, like tons of footnotes about why the laws had existed, but no laws that ever set limit to jail. Right. They were it would be abortionists where the enforcement actually occurs. Right. So that’s one that we have to say. This is not how if states create laws regulating abortion, that’s not how it would be enforced.
It would not be enforced against the women themselves. And then there’s other things talking about, well, this is sort of like the first step in overturning the right to privacy. And the right to privacy undergirds things that, you know, the left typically likes, like contraception or, you know, gay marriage. And so is this their first step in like, you know, undoing the culture?
Right. And I think the draft opinion is is careful to say what we’re dealing with here is the fundamental right to abortion. We’re focusing on that. And the other cases remain untouched. Those that rely on the right to privacy.
And I think a huge part of that is the historical part of the leaked opinion, because I the Supreme Court is not really interested in challenging that. We have these liberty interests that we have liberty rights. We have rights as Americans that may not be spelled out in black and white in the Constitution. I mean, over almost 100 years ago now, parents have a right to control the education of their children.
There was a famous case here, Society.
Of Sisters, Society of Sisters in Nebraska.
Exactly. And those kinds of unenumerated rights that are not specifically written down, you turn to history. You turn to the traditions of going all the way back into English, common long before there was a United States. And the the argument is if if the Supreme Court isn’t talking about the letter of the Constitution, if they want to say we’re appealing to rights, that these unwritten rights, these are the substantive.
Do due process, the basic interests of liberty, you’ve got to you’ve got to show your work. It’s like a math problem. You have to show where how this is deeply rooted in our history and the kinds of privacy rights that go in certain other issues differ from what we’re talking about in abortion, whether it’s in historical rootedness or central.
82 to life and the record ways the historical record weighs the other way because as Joe was saying, Roe overturned every single state abortion law in 1973, including what we would think of and what were then quote unquote the liberal places New York and California all 50. And the we have to realize if some we don’t want to give judges the power to just make things up we have to do things.
It’s a debt we’re a democratic republic. We have to do things through our representatives and if we’re balancing complicated things like the rights of the mother potentially life of the child where where’s where is it reasonable to draw a line. That’s not what courts do. That’s what legislatures do. Right. And the fact that the court should you should pardon the expression, the fact that the court aborted a societal development on this issue, in 1973.
Right. Is what made it so disruptive. Right. Alito a big part of the opinions argument and I’ll shut up was Justice Alito saying this has been bad for the nation and the court. This has made our politics worse because we tried to do something that legislatures should do. And that is not what we ought to be. We, the court ought to be doing.
And you see why we ought not do it. When you look at the last 50 years.
And and frankly a number of an Alito is so, you know, sort of clever to point to this. It is, in his opinion, a number of justices and legal scholars who are for a right to abortion agree with exactly the point you just made. Right. From Justice Ginsburg. Right. To people like Laurence Tribe to people like John Hart Eli.
And he points to the fact that all of these these judges who would support that. Right. Thought that Roe was was bad constitutional law, that the effects of it were going to be bad, that it should have been handled in a different way. And so I think knowing that sort of having that historical sense, that’s been all the history he’s doing here is so helpful to point to the fact that these justices at the time.
Right. Who would he be, your allies maybe today on so many other things through his bad law and another sort of historical point, maybe that response to the alarmism that we’ve been talking about. Right. You know, you say, well, I mean, you’ve seen so many articles that we’re talking about here. Well, if Roe goes, then laws, laws that allow interracial marriage.
Right. Right. Or we’ll have laws banning interracial marriage will be banning contraception. I think you can correct me if I’m wrong but I think at the time, Griswold, the sort of foundational case that lays out the right to privacy for contraception, I’m pretty sure that Connecticut was the only state that had a law at the time banning contraception.
So 49 states had already gotten rid of any laws banning contraception. So the idea that well, right. There’s going to be somehow this overlapping consensus in America in all of these red states where where contraception is going to go away is just historically absurd. Right. Historically absurd.
You know, I think another thing a part of what Alito is trying to address here is the concern that, you know, our common law system relies on precedent So does the idea of stare decisis and for let the decision stand. And so Roe has been regarded as something of a super precedent, right. Where people have come to rely on us so we can’t overturn it.
And Alito is smart to point out that in a sense, it’s a fable. We do overturn ourselves 266 times, right. At least. But especially when we get things wrong, we overturn ourselves. And probably the most prominent of those instances was 1896 is Plessy versus Ferguson. Which upheld separate but equal as constitutional right. So it enabled the Jim Crow laws to really take root in Southern culture and supported segregation.
But that was overturned in 1954 Brown V Board of Education. Right. And so he actually probably one of the things I’ve seen most quoted and I’ll just read this real quick it’s actually on page 40 if you’re following along he actually quotes his fellow Justice Kavanaugh, who referred to Plessy as egregiously wrong on the day it was decided.
And so then Alito goes on to say Roe was also egregiously wrong and deeply damaging. For reasons already explained, Roe’s constitutional analysis was far outside the bounds of any reasonable interpretation of the various constitutional provisions to which it vaguely pointed so egregiously wrong. That’s some harsh language that we might see smoothed out if you get some pushback on that.
But I think the fact that it’s out there is it’s almost like I feel they did a little bit of a favor to the pro-life side and kind of like, you know, here’s here’s the argument sticking our turf and any pushback or critiques they have can almost be dealt with in like, you know, further versions of this draft.
Right. Because we don’t I’m sure this draft has already changed many times, even before it was leaked. Right, to Christmas from February. But yeah, this egregiously wrong language, I think it’s really strong. So it’s like when we get something wrong, we have to be willing to have the courage to overturn it. Right. And so not just stick with it because it’s wrong, but we’ve had it long enough.
We can’t overturn it. Yeah.
And plus is a very good example because that was a 71 decision. Roe was seven to one. It was overturned in Brown V Board in 1954. It, you know, it set the country, it basically into the hole frenzy of the civil rights movement for for over a decade. It wasn’t a non divisive right over to the right, but it was, it was still the right thing to do.
Right. And Casey made that argument. Roe is a super precedent. We don’t dare dare touch it. Now everybody go to your corners and sit down and be quiet. We the court have spoken. Right. I mean, Casey has a very imperial opinion. Right. And that part of it was completely ignored. But because the court was doing stuff, it’s not good.
Yeah. And I think, you know, in terms of the story, the science is point in addition to this Reliance argument that people rely on, you know, these cases being decided in the same way over and over again. And they make their plans in regard to that. Another point he makes, and this is really big in the Casey decision, one of the main reasons that Casey upholds the central reasoning of Roe is this argument about the legitimacy of the court.
Right. That that if the court is perceived to be making decisions based on politics right. What do you use Hamilton’s line in front of the 78. Right. To be using Will to actually be exercising will rather than judgment to be acting like a legislature? This will undermine it will undermine their legitimacy because they’re supposed to interpret the law, not make it.
And, you know, and Alito has a good response to this, I think, which is that’s exactly what you know, that’s exactly what what Roe did. And so, yeah, we can’t worry about the fact that people are going to perceive any decision is going to have a result that matters to people. And so some people are not going to like it and they’re going to say this was politically motivated.
It wasn’t based on interpretation of the law. But he says that the fact that people are going to say that can’t scare us off. Right. As my dissertation advisor once said about a particular painting, he said a opinion that he thought was politically decided. He said this judge made a political decision to make the court look like it’s not political.
Right. So in other words, rather than interpreting the law the right way and doing good constitutional interpretation, he sort of fudges it and makes a little political compromise so that people don’t start yelling about the fact that this is political. Now, you know, and I think Alito deals with this. Well, what I am worried about, I think this is what I’m worried about going forward right.Is that Roe stood for a long time. Right.
I don’t know how long. If this goes through, how long will this stand? Right. And as soon as there is, you know, a majority of justices you know, that are appointed by by Democratic presidents. Will it change again? And does the future look like a constant shift back and forth between ROE is upheld and really is not? Now, if that’s the case.
Well, I mean, we have maybe bigger problems on our hand, but I mean, the legitimacy of the court as interpreting the Constitution, it’s going to be difficult to uphold that. But maybe most people don’t don’t view the court that way anyway. So, I don’t know, maybe you guys want to talk about that, but I kind of think that I worry about that possibility.
I’m hoping that the state actions in response to an overturn settle that because one of the things we’ve seen in the last week and a half is some states have already had what are called trigger laws, usually to greatly restrict abortion. Others are making that plans. But in the last week, more bluer states that have been doing the same.
And from an institutional point, of view, that’s an institutionally good thing, right? Because if I live in New York or California, I think the New York state court, even found an abortion. Right in the state constitution. Nothing’s going to change in the state of New York. Nothing’s going to change in California because the nature of politics in those states is such they will codify the positions that are acceptable to voters in their state.
Yeah. So I’m hoping people will see that you can get this issue settled out in that sort of federalist way. Hopefully, you won’t have to come back in 20 or 30 years when the court has changed members and be flipping back and forth.
I think you bring up a good point, Dr. Wysocki. Lucky that it was a question on my mind was, Okay, so the leak happened, say that Roe is overturned. What does America look like after that?
You know, I think you might have some pushback, right initially where you’ll have the bluest of blue states. You’re California’s and New York trying to like ship people in for their abortions. And some people, you know, say that while the abortion rate might not change that much because you just to have like abortion centers on the coasts, for instance.
Right. Where, you know, flyover country restrict abortion. But I think that at least the pro-life side, like the battle is not over by a long stretch. So it has to be fought state by state. At that point. And we really you know, we say we have to change hearts and minds, but that matters now more than ever because now the handcuffs of Roe v Wade are removed and states can actually restrict abortion without having it running up against the wall of Roe and Casey.
So now, you know, this is where like legislators, legislators and policymakers have to get smart and I think really enact some pro-family policies because I think a knock on the right for a long time has been that we’re pro baby, but we’re not pro women. Right? We’re not pro-baby, but we’re not pro-family. You know, we want to, like, take away people’s welfare, kick them off welfare.
And so we want people just have babies that they can’t raise. And that is I mean, it’s a caricature and it’s an unfair one. But, you know, I think the pro-life movement has to be forward thinking and go ahead and put out some prenatal test and pro-family policies like increasing the child tax credit, for instance.
Which also helps with that rhetoric. Right. That, you know, we were talking about earlier.
And I think it will draw more it will draw more attention to these local policy issues and to other things that entities, even non-governmental ones like the church, are doing with family ministries, with services to help pregnant women and stuff like that. I think there’s so much light in heat because its role has become this totem.
Yeah. For against in American politics, it’ll still be an issue, but it will be it would be nice to have it be an issue people can work with.
And not all states are going to come out where they would if you made me king in Gothenburg. But that’s going to be better than where we are now.
Yeah. One thing maybe I’ll raise as a question to the two, you guys. I mean, one of the one of the maybe it’s alarmist, maybe not. Claims on the left is well, policy being turned back to the states is not where the pro-life movement wants to stop. Right. That is that they want to push for national laws that would ban abortion And, you know, there have been national partial birth the partial birth abortion bans that the court dealt with and upheld.
There was one where they struck it down and then later on they upheld it. But so I guess that would be an interesting question. You know, is that alarmist? Do you think that there would be any sort of national approach to the abortion question on on the pro-life side? And I mean, this becomes more an interesting federalism question, not just the abortion right question, but can can the federal government regulate that under the Commerce Clause and things like that?
But I’m really unsure on the constitutional question whether the feds can do it. But other than that, I think as even if they can, you’d have to I don’t think the legislated filibuster in the Senate is going anywhere. So one party would have to have 60 plus senators. That’s hard to do.
I mean, if there is truly a red wave in November, you might get more favorable majorities that would potentially pursue like a national abortion ban. But as Dr. Williams said, I don’t know if you could pass the Senate filibuster but let’s say theoretically that you could you know, would that law be constitutional in terms of, you know, is this something that Congress is constitutionally able to regulate?
I would argue that it is right. So part of the problem with having abortion laws being so different in different states is that people can just migrate, right. To pursue abortion. And obviously, if abortion is something wrong and truly egregious, you know, taking of an innocent life, then it’s not the kind of thing that we should be okay with one state doing what they want, another they want.
But I think maybe the better move would be to pursue the personhood amendment that the pro-life side had talked about a little bit, which would avoid this problem of having. Okay. Now, the winds have shifted on the court and we have more liberals, and now they’re just going to overturn the dad’s case and we’ll go back and forth.
Well, if you have an amendment that settles the issue, like the court settled the issue, and that’s the people of the United States settled the issue of slavery with the 13th Amendment. Right. And so it’s like now we no longer have slavery because that’s not right. We don’t do that in this country. And likewise, I’d like to see that happen to abortion ideally.
Yeah. No, I think in the meantime, I mean, you pointed out, right, that there would be sort of migration, migration plus corporate support for that migration. Right. And that’s that’s kind of an interesting thing that we’ve seen. You know, what people on the right have called sort of broke capitalism in so many other ways. We sort of see that playing out in terms of, you know, Amazon, I think has made a commitment to, what, $4,000 or something like that to help their employees travel.
If this gets overturned to get an abortion. Right. And so you will have. And so it’s not just, you know, so we ask this practical question, will the number of abortions go down? And you go, well, people may move around but may move around with you know, there will be so many other means that, you know, the pro-choice the pro-choice movement well will sort of arrows in their quiver that they’ll pull out.
I mean, you know, you’ll have corporations that will do it. Will they try to use health care law to say that? Right. Something like the Affordable Care Act is going to have to cover. Right. That insurance policies will have to cover travel for these things. There will be all these interesting Yeah. And a new new policy questions. Right.
And on top of that, I wonder if what capital will try to punish states that come up with the most restrictive laws like you. So like MLB withdraws the All-Star Game from Georgia because they’re trying to reform their voting laws. And so now some state comes up with like total abortion bans. And now we’re not going to have any corporate events or anything.
You know, we’re getting our we’re not going to establish our factory there. You know, I wonder.
Feel good concerts in my state.
Yeah. I mean, but that’s that’s part of the thing that I think. Well, will tamp down because think about it as an equilibrium of forces. So many things in politics. Amending the Constitution is even harder than overcoming the filibuster. If there are states that are just intractable, part of what we’ll see is people will sort themselves out as as is already happening.
Google up the phrase put quotation marks around it. Big sort out there in the audience read places are red or blue. Places are bluer over the last 40 years, there are more Super-majority Counties, Team Red, Team Blue than ever before. I think I’d like to see something national. I’d like to see the Personhood Amendment. But analyzing political forces.
I think this is going to get locked into a red blue pattern and what you’re talking about. It might be interesting to see if the the woke capitalism winds up taking retaliatory measures on red states. There are high profile cases of that, but there’s been limited follow up. Mm hmm. And those cases, we’ll see.
That’s one thing to kind of round this out and maybe bring this home. I was thinking during the discussion around you know, there have been rules and laws that were overturned when it became clear or maybe long after it became clear that they should never have been put in place
Hopefully, you know, for the ultimate good of society. So if we look at such a polarizing issue as this and we I can’t remember which one of these, but one of you essentially said one of the reasons why this is so burning hot right now is because people I can’t remember exactly how it was that, but it was something like people are just not as graceful maybe, and dealing with these tough topics.
So one of the things that I’m sitting here thinking is how do we, you know, as people and as institutions who value, you know, constructive conversation and, you know, who value people and who value each other, how do we kind of help make an impact for the greater good? You know, how do we help people kind of reasoned through this and and I don’t know, bring maybe help help bring peace to this tough situation?
I’ll jump in on that one a little bit, because there’s an organization I’ve been working with called Braver Angels. And that’s their whole kind of raison d’etre, is to bring civility back into our political discourse and try to tamp down on polarization. So one of their methods we actually did in one of my classes, they call it like braver discussions.
You get to talk to people not in an anonymous fashion on social media or you can easily be more vehement, but rather you talk to them person to person. So we happen to be discussing gun control. And it was people were paired up and they talked about their background, their own experience, with guns in this case. Right. And so you got to know the other person as a person first and know their background first.
And then we kind of increase the size of the group. And the groups are mixed red and blues left and right. And they got to talk face to face in a civil fashion in a kind of controlled environment. I just think we need more of that, you know, especially as Catholics like we can’t be bomb throwers. You know, we do as much as we know we’re on the right side of this issue.
We can’t be like personally tearing people down. So we have to in a way, meet them where they’re at, you know, be a good example in a lot of ways. So, yeah, I don’t think social media helps this issue for sure. And but, you know, try to I think when we’re face to face with somebody, see where they’re coming from, you know, and deal with them as people, not as their ideology.
And I would even advocate that in approaching them where they’re at. It’s even recognizing. Right. I mean, for someone like Aristotle that we study here at the Abbey, almost every claim that somebody makes has a part of the truth in it. And so there’s even people who get a whole lot wrong. They’re pursuing some sort of apparent good that right is related to a real good in some way.
And so to be able to sort of recognize that and talk to them and begin with them. Right. Well, okay. When you talk about women’s rights and the ability to have a job and to do all of these things. Right, and to and and to for a woman who has talents to be able to live those talents in the work world, that’s that’s a legitimate good.
And that’s part of your concern here. And we want to recognize that. And we can and we can sort of begin by recognizing the partial truths in our opponents. Right. And sort of being open in expressing that. I think the other thing that the Abbey can do in places like us. Right. That educational institutions can do and I’m stealing this from a woman.
We had come and talk at the Abbey last year. Dr. Anita Prather, who came and talked about how classical education and turning back to the great books in the classics is is actually a way to talk about these really hard subjects in a more fruitful way. Right. Because right as we turn back to these great poets, these great philosophers, these great theologians, and they have such a broad scope, right?
They see the human problems in such a deep way, but also in a way that are removed a little bit from the heat of our own situation. Right. And so by turning back to. Right. These authors who disagree with one another. Right. From from Locke to Aristotle to Saint Augustine to Jane Austen and Homer. Right. In in sort of doing liberal education.
Well, which is taking these tax and the matters that they have to present to us and considering those things together in community and trying to like bracket out a little bit of the of of what’s going on now. It allows people to like begin agreeing on things without jumping to where does that lead us in terms of our politics today?
Right. So I think that this is really, really important.
And I totally agree fundamentally. And there’s a great, great Antonin Scalia quote, I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas. And if you think people even try to play about this, if you think about his lifelong friendship with Justice Ginsburg, they were on completely opposite sides. Yeah. But but yet they were lifelong friends because ultimately we’re interacting with human persons.
We’re not interacting directly with ideas like naked brains and that and all of those human persons in different ways bear the image of God and all of them in some way, hopefully more rather than less, but in some way have some will typically have some grain of truth in what they believe. Yeah. And I couldn’t endorse Braver Angels for the audience.
That’s bravery angels dot org enough because and I think they’re doing out there in the world what I hope the Honors College and the Abbey are doing. People with different, different views who recognize each other, who interact as persons talking about those views when necessary. And that’s the bad thing about social media. Social media doesn’t typically let us interact as persons I’m anonymous bozo eight, six, seven, five, three or nine and I’m just pixels on the screen.
Right. We’re not that we’re persons and yeah, it would be nice if at all this settles down and it goes as it’s likely to throw overturned and throwing this back that that process of conversation on this issue maybe reminds us of all that.
The idea that what’s been happening so much to the extent that we can have civil discourse, it’s because we bracket our commitments to conceptions of the good life. It’s like, okay, well, I do my thing. You do yours, and you don’t just leave each other alone, go to our separate corners. You have a right to your opinion and let’s not get down to the kind of messy things that we might all disagree over.
And so I think this overturning of Roe is going to let us get past that sort of kind of oh, it just it lacks courage, you know, the kind of bracketing, the questions of the true, the good and justice and I think the court, especially in Casey, encouraged that, which was like, just leave each other your own corners and decide what’s true for yourself.
So here’s a very infamous line that people might be familiar with. This is Anthony Kennedy’s immortalized words in Casey. He said, At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe. And of the mystery of human life. So it’s the notorious mystery of human life passage. They talk about it as and like that really shuts down so much important discourse if you just say the meaning of being human is that you make up whatever existence is, right?
No, we we’re a community, right? We discuss what is good for us all, as be, you know, that this common life. So I’d be glad to see that go by the wayside, you know, language like that and really get down to discussing in a civil manner what truly matters.
As you were talking, I was reminded of the words of my college mentor, and she would always say growth is rarely comfortable. And I remind myself that any time I’m going through anything new or any time I’m challenging myself and I think when we really sit down and think about these hard issues, you know, it can especially if you’re not used to being in a place where you can talk about them respectfully and freely, you almost get a little itchy and your skin, you know, but if we sit down and we think about what we’re really doing, we’re growing our minds, we’re growing our hearts, you know, we’re really challenged ourselves in a way.
And I think what’s often challenging in these situations is remembering to be respectful of other sides. And like Dr. Williams were saying, you know, not just attack people, but rather talk constructively and yet even firmly if needed about these ideas. Dr. Weiss, if you look like you’re in thought, did you have something else you wanted to.
Just, I Mean, education is the most important thing. Yeah, right. Is the most important side in all of this is for not if we don’t have.
Victories in terms of an education that is too much. Right. Overwhelmingly, it is in our system. So. That’s right. It’s only temporary these institutional wins. Yeah, but that’s your pessimism. You know, it’s just over. It’s it’s over there. And the only hope is it’s sort of classical charter schools for us as a whole. In our conversations, because institutionally we can have it because now the policy matters.
But I’m not sure that we are formed right. That most of us are going to do it. So every year is important. But right now, you know, it’s kind of spitting into the wind if people aren’t there but I think that I don’t know, there’s there’s two sides of the issue. Joe Rogan and all these people actually there doesn’t yeah.
They just stop yelling at me and I want to talk gas. Or maybe this.
I want to thank all three of you for being here with me today. It was really inspiring. And I hope that our audience was inspired and challenged as well. I want to thank our audience for joining us. And if you’ve enjoyed Comercio, please subscribe and tell your friends come. First up to you is available through Spotify and Apple and Google Podcasts.
Until next time. God bless.
About the Host
Marketing Project Manager
In the role of Marketing Project Manager at Belmont Abbey College, Julia’s main focuses are brand development and external communications. This includes oversight of Public Relations, Advertising, and Social Media for the college.
With a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s in Communication, Julia’s passion for brand and communications led her to positions in corporate and higher education. She lives in Gastonia, North Carolina with her husband Justin, daughter McKenna, and two cats, Einstein and Galileo.