We’re in the “Fundamental Rights” segment of my ConLaw class, which means that on Monday, we’ll be talking about about Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. After reading the cases, I was noodling around on the internet, and I came across this map from the Pew Research Center’s Stateline.org backgrounder on abortion policy:
with this one from the Strange Maps project:
It seems clear from a casual examination that the simplest explanation (that the same political faction which is against abortion is also against the teaching of evolution in public schools) is not 100% true: Tennessee and Florida are both counterexamples where evolution is poorly taught but the right to an abortion is protected by law, and South Carolina is a counter the other way: good treatment of evolution in the schools, but a so-called “trigger law” that is designed to immediately ban abortion in that state if Roe is ever overturned at the federal level.
I’ll concede my personal bias: when I started writing this post, I wanted to conclude that the two maps were causally related by a single variable.
I wanted this to be true because it would make it easy for me to dismiss the intellectual foundation of the anti-abortion position, the same way that rational people everywhere reject the legitimacy of the “intelligent design” brand of creationist religious theory. If the anti-abortion states were a perfect overlap with the anti-evolution states, it would be easy to say that voters who live in those states are willfully ignorant about the world, and that they wish to inflict their own ignorance upon their own and their neighbors’ children, and this desire is reflected in their schools and the social policies of their governments.
Since the correlation isn’t 100% clear, I’d be very interested in hearing thoughts about what drives the deviations from my prejudiced expectation. If I have time tonight, I might try to make a map that documents which states vary between the two maps in ways that I wouldn’t expect.