Today it was revealed that the Supreme Court is likely to rule to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Everyone is hopefully clear on the fact that overturning “Roe vs Wade” does not make abortion illegal. It throws the problem back to the states which now may either ban it, partially ban it, or allow it, depending on the whims of state legislators.
States will now be allowed to compel women to carry a pregnancy to full term whether they wish to or not, even in the case of incest or rape.
If this indeed is going to be the ruling (which will be handed down in June), there are some enormous implications. Off hand, I can think of these:
- The Democratic base will be energized going into the fall congressional elections. This is Mitch McConnell’s nightmare. Mid-term elections generally favor the opposition party at least partly because the government doesn’t have a burning issue to run against– it is the government many people like to vote against no matter what stripe. But overturning Roe vs Wade may light a fire under the Democrats.
- The issue should play well for the Democrats. About 60-65% of Americans support the general right to abortion, though they also think limits should apply. Democrats can cite the government telling women what they may or may not do with their bodies. Republican state governments are going to “compel” women to carry pregnancies to term which can be spun as intrusive or egregious or over-reach or patriarchal. Republicans cannot really run on “life begins at conception”– at least, I’ll believe it when I see it.
- Further to that — evangelical Christians will not be satisfied with overturning Roe vs. Wade. They want the Supreme Court to go further and ban all abortions. Life, to them, begins at conception. They may begin to demand that their Republican trolls reflect that in their legislation, which may be a bridge too far for independents and moderate Republican women.
- Why stop at Roe vs Wade? There are host of privacy rights implied in the principle that the Constitution does not protect them. Strip searches? Infrared scans of homes? Drones? Cell phone messages? Library records? Who says we (the FBI, Homeland Security) can’t look? Who says those records are private (unless the police have a warrant)?
- So when really does life begin? If state governments begin debating this issue, and pass legislation, and this legislation is appealed to the Supreme Court, we will have an even bigger can of worms.
- State Senate races in close states could swing. Susan Collins is safe for now– she has five years left in her term. Lisa Murkowski– lucky for her– voted against Kavanaugh, so she is probably safe. But many other Republicans running in purple states will have to answer the question of who they would confirm to Supreme Court given that they might make another really stupid decision. (Is “stupid” a blunt instrument? I mean, Alito and Thomas are obviously not fools, but I stand by my conclusion of the fundamental soundness of their reasoning behind their votes on Roe vs Wade. In the totality of their disregard for history, culture, justice, and just plain common sense: stupid. Just plain stupid. It can stand with the Dred Scott decision– that negroes are not “persons”.)
As you would think is obvious, the ruling is at odds with conservative ideals about government being restrained from intruding into areas of personal freedom. The government should not be able to require you to wear a mask around vulnerable people even if you could be infected with Covid 19, but it should be allowed to compel you to carry a pregnancy to full term.