The political battle over cultural or moral issues—like, say, same-sex marriage—typically follows a familiar path. When the vast majority of Americans opposed gay marriage, the law reflected that, as it did in the 1990s, when support for legalizing such marriages hovered around 30 percent. As public support began to increase, the law changed in select jurisdictions. By the time the first legal same-sex weddings were taking place in 2004, in Massachusetts, public support had increased to 42 percent. Then, once the majority of Americans supported gay marriage, the dam broke. California, New York, Maryland, and other states passed same-sex marriage laws. Sometimes a court decision like Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)—which required states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions—clears that final hurdle.
We’re now seeing similar trends with legalizing marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, and implementing stronger gun control measures, as a patchwork of laws are being passed to reflect growing support among the general public.
Generally, once we cross the Rubicon of new laws, there is no going back. The opposing side accepts defeat and moves on. It works that way for almost every cultural or moral issue—except abortion.
The battle over the legalization of abortion…read more