Liberal Triumphs Could Inspire Abortion Ban (Commentary)

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of homosexual marriage was a landmark in the expansion of rights, power and moral legitimacy to a previously marginalized group. For now, social conservatives are despondent. But the logic of expanding rights may contain the seeds of conservative victory in another significant cause: banning abortion. The expansion of rights has largely been a liberal project. Indeed, part of being a liberal — arguably the most important part — is the ceaseless effort to expand civic, economic and political space for human dignity. That’s the process by which abolition, women’s suffrage, civil rights, immigrant rights and homosexual rights extended power from propertied white men out to a wider world. That process appears to have no end. A successful course for transgender rights seems almost certain in the future. There is even a compelling case that legal polygamy won’t be far over the horizon. The continuing recognition and empowerment of previously marginalized groups may ultimately create tension in liberal support for abortion rights. Indeed, support for abortion rights and liberalism could diverge. Polls show voters self-identifying as “liberal” more often than in the past. The liberal upswing is on vivid display in public support for homosexual marriage; the trend line looks like a bubbly stock market — up, up, up. Meanwhile, in a bull market for liberals, support for legal abortion basically hasn’t budged. Moreover, unlike the sharp generational differences on display with homosexual marriage or legal marijuana, both of which generate overwhelming support among millennials, generational differences on abortion are modest. In a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year, 52 percent of baby...