Opinion | Today’s Opinions: Haunted by zombie law and thrown into abortion time-travel

Opinion | Today’s Opinions: Haunted by zombie law and thrown into abortion time-travel

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Abortion yesterday, today and tomorrow

The women of America have a terrible secret, a curse they must confess: They can travel through time.

“Forward?” the husband of one of them asks in Alexandra Petri’s tale of the time-traveling women.

“Well, not just forward. I thought it was just forward for a long time. That would make sense. But after 2022, it stopped being just forward.”

Horrified by this week’s news that Arizona was allowing a near-total abortion ban from 1864 to take effect again, Alexandra imagined America’s backward progress as literal jumps through time, though without ragtime music or potable rainwater or any of the other benefits you’d think such temporal displacement might confer. The result is at once silly and haunting.

Kate Cohen went with the zombie genre instead in her column on the 1864 Arizona law and others like it that have been ruled (temporarily, it turns out) unenforceable or unconstitutional or that have been superseded in the years since. Look at New York’s law against adultery or the prohibition of homosexual sex in 12 states — both still technically on the books.

“These laws have been left for dead under the assumption, I suppose, that the future is a road that leads toward social progress,” Kate writes. But these days, they are rising from the grave, chasing off progress with arms outstretched.

Such legislation really ought to be repealed because, as both Kate and Alexandra note, the arc of history can apparently snap back at any moment — and resurrect all manner of zombie law.

Staunch antiabortion conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, meanwhile, thinks that Republicans are not doing enough to hammer history’s arc back into pro-life shape. He urges the party to stiffen its spine on the subject and stop punting to the states.

“Republicans are betting that saying it’s a state matter will look more reasonable to voters than saying, for example, that they want to build a national consensus to ban abortions late in pregnancy,” Ramesh writes. “But that means they will be talking about abortion in contexts of Democratic choosing” — including Democratic dunking on aggressive red-state legislation that goes well beyond the public’s preferences.

His fellow abortion opponent Marc Thiessen disagrees strategically. He thinks the GOP’s turn to the states on abortion, led by former president Donald Trump, sets up pro-lifers “for victory in the long-term battle for hearts and minds.” Right now, Americans decreasingly support abortion restrictions, and pushing a federal ban will only hasten the trend.

Marc also predicts that by backing off the issue, Republicans can turn pro-abortion rights Democrats into the “extremists” in the public’s eye.

Finally, George Will wonders whether we might not have many extremists on either side for much longer. He writes that for decades, “abortion has been considered an intractably divisive issue because it supposedly was not amenable to the basic business of politics: the splitting of differences.”

In George’s estimation, that is at last changing, and “the intensity of the debate about abortion policy is waning.” The country could reach a split-the-difference calm even quicker if Republicans would relinquish both the six-week state bans and the 15-week federal ban.

The only way to find out what any of this holds, Alexandra notes in the close of her column, is by way of the time travel we all can do: forward — most specifically on toward November.

Chaser: Ann Telnaes cartoons the result of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s disagreement with Trump over abortion.

From Lee Hockstader’s column on all the Ukrainian superstars who could have competed in this summer’s Olympics had they not died in Russia’s war on the country. Even the next generation, such as 14-year-old weightlifter Alina Peregudova — also killed in 2022 — has been decimated.

The International Olympic Committee’s refusal to ban Russia from competing in this year’s Games is not fairness, Lee writes. It is cowardice. If Lee were in charge, individual athletes from Russia and puppet state Belarus would not even be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

Let Russia have the Orwellian “Friendship Games” it’s throwing in September, Lee writes, with its prize money and lack of standards on doping. The Olympics should stand for something higher.

Every generation eventually invents a vernacular of its own, but Gen Z is absolutely slangmaxxing.

If you don’t know what that means, you are not Gen Z; more fortuitously, you are not an incel, a member of the toxic, misogynistic online community of “involuntary celibates.”

Gen Z linguist and educator Adam Aleksic writes in an op-ed that the terminally online Gen Z has ironically adopted a great deal of lingo from incels, including “sigma,” “cucked” and “blackpilled” — don’t worry, all explained therein.

Aleksic also explains why this is no cause for concern. “In fact,” he says, “it’s a delightful twist of fate that the incels’ own words are now being wielded against them.”

Chaser: In 2022, the American Dialect Society decided that the word of the year was “-ussy,” which you’ll have to look up yourself. Amanda Katz (my editor, hi!) wrote that it should have picked “FAFO” — “eff around and find out.”

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you next week!

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