The Day After Roe

My first copy of The Atlantic showed up, and has a great article on The Day After Roe.

Short version: It’s entirely possible Roe will be overturned when the Supreme Court takes an abortion case in June 2007, moving it back to the states. You’d see a 50-state war about what is and isn’t ok touch off.

The GOP will probably have a hell of a time with this, ironically, because the pro-life line favored by the movement driving GOP candidacies and primaries (no health exceptions, only maybe on rape and incest) has something like 80% of the public wanting those exemptions, regardless of state. On a trimester basis, there’s a majority favoring first trimester in every state; this would be another hardcore vs. not issue. It’s possible, and probable, that the GOP coalition will split on this, unable to assuage the gap between its “mainstream businessman” pro-choice supporters and the pro-lifers; Democrats would make large coalition gains.

Even in the most conservative states, however, the overturning of Roe would put any pro-life governor or attorney general in a tight spot. For the truth is that draconian state bans on abortion that failed to provide widely supported exceptions would likely be unpopular with majorities in all the states in question.

According to Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University professor who has studied public opinion on abortion, there would be majority opposition to any law that failed to include these exceptions, even in the most conservative states. “My guess is that any state that has a total prohibition on abortion—that can’t stand,” Wilcox told me. “If you look at the polls, you’ll never get more than 15 or 20 percent that would ban all abortions. Across the board, around 75 percent are in favor of exceptions for rape, incest, and fetal defect, as well as the life and health of the mother. Even in the most conservative states, that will be over 50 percent.” In other words, there’s less variation among states when it comes to public attitudes about abortion than you might expect. In national Gallup Polls over the last thirty years, two-thirds of Americans have consistently said that abortion should be legal in the first trimester of pregnancy, although in the second trimester, the number plummets to 25 percent, and in the third trimester it falls further, to 10 percent. And since 1973, according to polls conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, overwhelming majorities—between 80 and 90 percent—have said that abortion should be available to a woman if her health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy, or in cases of rape or risk of serious fetal defects.

Whether in conservative states like Texas, swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, or liberal states like California, public support for access to abortion in cases of rape, fetal defect, and threats to a woman’s health, as well as for restrictions on abortion generally, is overwhelming.

On a related note, contraceptive use is dropping for some damned reason.

Backlash from a generation figuring out what a load of horseshit they were fed regarding AIDS in the 80s and 90s, plus a growing conservative Catholic influx from the brown folks to the South.


There is basically a two part story to the future of the pro-life movement; overturn the constitutionality of abortion rights, and then make abortion itself unconstitutional.

Most of the effort has been on the first step, even if this hasn’t been made exactly clear to the conservative constituencies. But once Roe v Wade is gone, it won’t be much longer before another lawsuit is filed in a pro-choice state to overturn abortions nationwide. One which would have a fair chance of winning depending upon the criteria that was used to overturn Roe.

I’ve long held that the DNC could make a huge powergrab if they became a pro-life party. Sure they’d piss off all the pro-choice voters but it’s not like those people would vote for a Republican. Many pro-life Republicans, on the other hand, are as fiscally soft-headed as the biggest of big government democrats… I think they’re calling themselves compassionate conservatives, right?

Abortion is an interesting political issue because… from a strictly philosophical point of view, the Elephants would be more philosophically consistent if they were the pro choice party and the Donkeys would be more consistent if they were the pro life party.