Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Federalism Has Its Limits, and Abortion Will Soon Test Them

The problem with this article is that what this liberal writer says about abortion rights is the same argument a conservative writer would make about the right-to-life or right to bear arms. Federalism doesn’t solve the issue, and neither does nationalization of the issue.

By Robert Tracinski Discourse

Just as with slavery, leaving this issue to the states won’t save us from conflict

There is a longstanding argument that our system of federalism is a crucial tool for reducing conflict by letting states tailor their regulations and laws to the ideological and cultural preferences of their citizens. We do things differently in Texas than in California, or in South Carolina as opposed to New York. Why not allow laws to be more restrictive in some respects and more permissive in others, depending on local standards?

There is a lot of truth to this, and the federalization of everything can be an engine of unwarranted conflict. But the expected Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade may offer a counterexample, a case in which leaving decisions up to the states could lead to chaos.

The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, if the leaked draft is any indication, would do what supporters of federalism have always wanted. It returns the issue of abortion to the states, allowing them to protect the procedure or prohibit it as they see fit.

In theory, this allows states to be “laboratories of democracy,” trying out social experiments so that people in other states can decide whether to emulate them. We are doing this with marijuana, which is now legal for recreational use in 18 states. This will tell us whether the fabric of society will dissolve if people can get high without being arrested. (So far, it appears that it will not.) It also provides a safety valve that allows occasional cannabis users in restrictive states to go elsewhere for a legal toke.

So will sending abortion back to the states lead to a similar solution?

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1 reply »

  1. So fuck the Union, the end. Legalize discrimination and segregation. Hey, if my town can ban anyone who voted, worked for the government, or doesn’t own a gun yours can ban anyone with a Bible. I’m down. Fuck all this procrastinating and negotiating, let’s get a divorce or start shooting.

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