My favorite chapter in The Handmaid's Tale comes fairly late in the book. Offred has been confined to her room with nothing to do but think, and uses the time to review the whole rise of Gilead and ask herself: when SHOULD she have insisted that they flee the country? How SHOULD she (and more importantly, her husband, who kept talking her out of it) have known when it was going to be too late? Because "it's just a phase" seemed plausible and "there's always another election" did too and "these things pass" and "we still have rule of law in this country" -- until the borders were forcibly closed and the army posted at the escape routes and then it was too late.
(In the book, the point where I would have run like I was trying to outrun an explosion would have been when all women's bank accounts were seized and transferred to their male guardians; I am deeply angry at the character of her husband for calming her down after that, for insisting that don't worry, the courts will surely overturn it or some such thing.)
With Donald Trump getting a 5th solid seat on the Supreme Court no later than, say, October, I'm seeing people ask, "Is it time? Is it going to be time, soon?" On that subject, I'm shifting my stance from "no" to "not yet, probably not soon, but maybe soon."
Because here's what's on my mind, here's how it ends if it does end. John Roberts writes a calm-sounding decision that claims to uphold Roe v Wade but that has the effect of allowing any state that wants to to criminalize abortion in practice -- say, an 8 week waiting period plus a 20 week ban, plus impossible to meet restrictions on any doctor, clinic, or pharmacist.
The Guttmacher Institute says that 18 states have already passed laws that would entirely or almost entirely ban abortion the next day after Roe is struck down. 8 states have taken the opposite stance, passing laws explicitly protecting abortion even if Roe is struck down. So it is obviously true that in a post-Roe America we will have legal-abortion states and illegal-abortion states.
If a pregnant woman from Mississippi travels to New York, will she be stopped at the airport (or train station or bus terminal or highway checkpoint) and her pregnancy status checked before and after the trip? If a woman from Missouri travels to Maine to get and pick up a prescription for mifepristone, and Missouri presses murder charges against the pharmacist, will Maine extradite? If a woman from Colorado woman travels to California for a surgical abortion and Colorado presses murder charges against the surgeon, will California extradite?
Right now, my pack-your-bags-in-case line is "the minute any state tries to extradite a resident of a legal-abortion state," whether they succeed or not. My run-like-everything's-on-fire line, right now, is the minute the federal government steps in on either side of that dispute.
Because it has not escaped my attention that the proximate cause of the Civil War, the final trigger that pushed South Carolina to secede, was widespread refusal of law enforcement officials in anti-slavery states to extradite escaped slaves even after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act made such lack of cooperation illegal -- it was, at its heart, a desperate attempt to close the border so that South Carolinians (and other Confederate states') citizens couldn't flee to states where their rights would be protected.
And I have less than perfect confidence that a Second American Civil War wouldn't go nuclear. So if we even start down a path where abortion is legal in some states and illegal in others and where states are threatening each other over this, you should already be prepared to move yourself and your family somewhere out of the reach of the war that might be coming.