This CSM essay notes that, while abortion has been a contentious issue for a long time, it’s only recently that positions on abortion fell on strongly partisan lines, with both major parties making their position a significant part of their identity. The article wonders whether, if abortion were somehow off the table, the partisan divide might dominate our politics less thoroughly.
It profiles the plight of a member of Democrats for Life, which, needless to say, isn’t much of a presence in politics today — this despite the fact that, as their site notes, one in three democrats is pro-life. I know a number of people who would be happy to join the organization if doing so felt practical. In today’s climate it has a Noble Lost Cause feel.
I’m doubtful that abortion drives partisanship. The reverse seems true to me: parties now grab on to issues on which members differ to some degree, and do everything possible to amplify the differences for the sake of their own power. We see this happening now with support for the State of Israel, which once enjoyed solid bipartisan support and is now being turned into another party-identity issue.