Becca at Not Quite Sure poses an interesting pair of questions:
I have no doubt that 40 years from now, when my hypothetical grandchildren learn about this period in history, the collapse of the US auto industry will feature prominently. And my guess is that Dr. Tiller won't be mentioned, although the culture wars more broadly will.
That said, I'm not really upset about GM going into bankruptcy. A bit sad, but not really upset. Both because it's been coming for so long that it's not shocking, and because the good union jobs in the auto industry were going away whether or not GM managed to avoid bankruptcy. And I'm going to blog about Tiller, not GM, because I don't have anything particularly original to say about GM. (If you want to read about GM, go re-read Gladwell's article about why GM should be understood as a health insurance company that finances itself by selling cars.)
So, back to Tiller. With Obama nominating Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, and presumably getting make at least one more and possibly several nominations, I think abortion is likely to remain legal for the foreseeable future. But Tiller's murder drives home the degree to which the question of whether abortion is legal has become almost completely separate from the question of whether women who want an abortion can get one. According to Planned Parenthood, more than 85 percent of counties in the US do not have a single abortion provider. Tiller was one of only a few doctors in the whole country who do late-term abortions.
I can't blame doctors who decide that they're not up to facing the screaming protestors, the constant threats on their lives and their families. And there's a selection issue -- because so many doctors don't do abortions at all, it's easy for a doctor who is willing to serve women in this way to find that they're spending most of their time doing abortions. But it's pretty hollow to have a legal right to an abortion if you can't actually find someone to do it. Wealthy women will always be able to travel to providers (at least, if they don't need the abortion because of an immediate crisis) but poor women won't.