Why Abortion Rights Will Prevail

An historical lesson from the Civil War

John Levin
5 min readJul 15, 2022
Escaped slaves (“contrabands”) who had made it to Union lines, Photo stereograph by James F. Gibson, May 14, 1862, Library of Congress, Public Domain

Amidst the current horrors of the religiously inspired attempted revocation of American women’s bodily autonomy by the Supreme Court of the United States, I had an interesting connection the other day.

A few years ago, I read an amazing history book, not a general piece of fluff, but a work by an actual historian:

The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South, by Bruce Levine.

One of the points that Prof. Levine makes is something I had never thought of, but which hit me like a load of revelatory bricks: The aristocracy of the South, in their crazed drive to secede from the rest of the country in order to guarantee the ownership of other human beings for profit, actually doomed their repulsive quest by their very act of secession.

This is so interesting! I’ll explain Prof. Levine’s point in a minute, but the connection I saw with the Republican extremists of today and, let’s face it, their attempt to religiously enslave American women, I believe, will also fail for a similar reason that these stupid handmaiden fools were too dense to even understand.

Prof. Levine’s point is this: Before secession, the South, through its manipulation of Congress, could (not always, of course) legally recapture human beings who had had enough of barbarism and simply (and courageously) left. Students of history know about the infamous Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which required people in free states to apprehend and return people to involuntary servitude if they had had the audacity to escape and reclaim their inalienable human rights.

The Fugitive Slave Law, however, was just a further insult on top of other legal requirements to perpetuate slavery, which dated back to the Constitution itself.

What the slaveholding class of the South did not understand was that, just by seceding, they created an invisible borderline with the rest of the United States that all a Black person needed to do was cross … and he or she was irrevocably gone.

No return now, bozos. You screwed up.

Also, as Union armies eventually invaded and roamed through the South, often miles-long trains of African Americans simply walked off the plantation and followed the Union military columns instead.

The South’s economy was absolutely screwed. The men had gone off to fight. (Many poor Whites were conscripted, didn’t want to fight for the slaveholders, and deserted at first opportunity. This, of course, is not taught in Southern high schools to this day. Kind of spoils the myth, doesn’t it?)

The South depended on enslaved labor to enable the war effort, and the ruling class was so stupid that the moment, again, that they seceded, the failure of their enterprise was essentially set.

What does this have to do with the 5 1/2 idiots on the Supreme Court? (Roberts tried to walk a vain compromise, which also is so sad.)

What does it have to do with the moral/religious political activists who pushed for an end to abortion rights and think they’ve finally imposed their will on the residents of half the country?

State lines. The fools have done it again.

As long as things were kind of halfway, women often put up with the increasing difficulties that Republican legislatures created to make abortion more difficult, but now that the moral/religious extremists have finally “won,” American women in these states will simply disregard all of it, whether by going over the border or using the internet and the US Mail.

In the borderlands of Texas and Arizona, where the creeps behind the new prohibitions are hoping women are too poor to travel to the new free states, lol, they’ll still order online or travel to Mexico where (Who would have thought?) women’s reproductive rights are legal now.

Things will get nasty as Republican politicians rush to pass and attempt to enforce anti-reproductive rights legislation in multiple states. Many women will be hurt, but moral/religious extremism, I believe, will not win. The next Congress will probably not pass national reproductive rights legislation or prohibition, either. The moral/religious anti-sexuality extremists have and are doing much to create hell for so many in this country,

But they were too stupid to calculate on state and international borders,

And the US Mail.

P.S. — I’m not meaning to be naively optimistic. The religious right really does want to interfere with the reproductive equality of American women, which, of course, is really a proxy for women’s economic and political equality.

Barefoot and pregnant. And this is supposed to be some moral high ground?

The future, as always, is unknown. Exactly how all of this will play out is in flux. What will happen in the coming midterm elections? If the Democrats retain control of the House and pickup two or more Senate seats, will they get rid of the filibuster and pass meaningful reproductive rights, climate, and voting rights legislation? LOL, they haven’t had a courageous track record yet.

Will the Handmaiden, Justice Teenage Rapist, and “My Wife Helped Plan the Insurrection” still just happily get to do their work?

We really are in a scary mess right now. The Republicans nominated a crooked madman for the presidency … twice! WTF? Do you remember that in 2020, they didn’t even have a platform? Just whatever the Dear Leader, operatically endorsed by his son’s girlfriend (Remember Kimberly Guilfoyle’s convention speech?), wanted.

Will Trump get indicted? Will he go to jail?

Will Biden bow out, and a new generation of people unencumbered by 20th century ideological battles that no one even cares about anymore get to run and pass meaningful legislation to address climate change and so much more?

Will Manchin’s Maserati get repossessed?

If you think things are boring, go join Zuckerberg in his Metaverse La La Land.

The rest of us have a lot on our plate.


Postscript 12/25/22 —

When I wrote this nearly 6 months ago, I had a rather exact analogy to Prof. Levine’s thesis about the Civil War in mind, but, as Mark Twain once put it, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. State borders and the US Mail are still defeating the religious creepos who are attempting to deny half the population’s basic rights, but women in many of our somewhat sovereign states are still being forced to have children whether they want to or not. Not everyone has the financial means to take time off from work and cross state lines to obtain reproductive healthcare, but … citizens in 6 states put initiatives on the ballot to enshrine reproductive rights in their state constitutions.

All of them won in November.

Now efforts are under way to put similar initiatives on the ballot in 10 more states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The rhyme is this: Roe was always open to attack, as it depended on legal reasoning, rather than explicit constitutional language. But now reproductive rights has that explicit protection in 6 more states, and, ’23 — ’24, perhaps 10 others, too.

Meanwhile, American Taliban operatives are scheming to pass even more draconian nonsense through gerrymandered state legislatures. They especially hate the US Mail, it seems.

You can gerrymander the legislature, but not the people’s will.

At least in states where the people’s will is allowed.




John Levin

Scientist. Writer. Meditator. Blue Tantrika. Mystical Rabbi. Climate & Human Rights Activist. I’m a man of few words, except when I open my mouth.