Regarding Leana Wen’s May 21 op-ed, “Abortion is the fight that could topple Trump”:
The United States went down a similar road almost exactly a century ago. In 1919, the 18th Amendment prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Like the antiabortion crusade, Prohibition was an attempt by government to legislate morality and criminalize a previously legal behavior. Also like abortion, Prohibition became a wedge issue that divided the nation by class, geography, religion, politics and gender. Prohibition was popular with evangelical Protestants, in the South, and in small towns and rural areas — places that contrasted sharply with large Northeastern industrial cities seen as populated by hard-drinking recent (and largely Catholic) immigrants from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe.
Prohibition was repealed for economic reasons; restricting access to alcohol was bad for business and U.S. agriculture, and the Great Depression left governments at all levels starved for revenue just when it was needed the most. Prohibition led to sophisticated bootlegging and smuggling operations, the growth of organized crime, political corruption, and injuries and deaths from consumption of unregulated alcohol mixtures.
In the early 20th century, we learned that an intemperate zeal to reform human behavior can lead to regret, repeal and unintended long-term consequences. With history as our guide, we should not have to relearn that same lesson in the 21st.
Gregory Adams, Herndon