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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Feb 5, 2021

On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared abortion legal in all 50 states when it decided Roe vs. Wade. This landmark decision was arguably one of the two biggest cases in relation to social policy in the US in the 20th century (the other being 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education).

Though abortion has been on the back-burner as an issue over the past decade or so, for most of the whole period after Roe vs. Wade it has dominated and shaped cultural politics in the US. In the 21st century, America has a pro-choice party (the Democrats) and a pro-life party (the Republicans).

To make sense of how this came about, I talked to Ramesh Ponnuru, a columnist at Bloomberg, an editor for National Review, and fellow at AEI. Ponnuru is also the author of Party of Death, and a social conservative who has written and thought about the history of the pro-life movement, and where it is will go into the future.

In this podcast Ponnuru and I discuss:

  • How the Democrats and Republicans “flipped” positions on abortion rights

  • Ronald Reagan’s signing of a law decriminalizing abortion in the late 1960’s

  • Accusations of sexism and racism against the pro-life movement

  • The contrast between the trajectory of attitudes toward gay marriage and abortion among young people (and society as a whole)

  • The decline in rates of abortion since the 1970’s

  • The relationship of prenatal testing to abortion in America

  • Finally, prospects for the future of the pro-life movement, and whether the Supreme Court will overturn Roe vs. Wade in the near future