Overturning Roe

| Wed Jul. 20, 2005 2:36 PM EDT

By the way, a few weeks ago I cited Slate's argument that the GOP would never dare overturn Roe vs. Wade—it would become, after all, an electoral catastrophe. In light of the fact that John G. Roberts is about to ascend the Supreme Court bench, and push the Republican Party one step closer to that goal, should Stevens or Ginsburg retire in the next three years, it's worth saying: that idea is probably very much mistaken.

Overturning Roe would, in fact, be fantastic for the Republican party. First, it's true that the overwhelming majority of the United States supports Roe v. Wade. But if it was repealed, many of those women could still get abortions. (California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, for instance, would still keep abortion legal.) Women in many, many other states would be denied that choice, of course, but federalism could fragment the pro-choice electoral coalition. Meanwhile, the Christian right would stay mobilized and clamor for a national abortion ban in Congress. If it passed, I have no doubt that a Supreme Court that overturned Roe could find a way to uphold a national ban on abortion, even if it is logically inconsistent. Now the national ban probably wouldn't pass, because it would be difficult to ram through the Senate, but that recalcitrance would be enough to keep the conservative base foaming at the mouth for years to come. So yes, it is wishful thinking to believe that Republicans might be too afraid to touch Roe.

And it's worth noting that the only way to stop this, really, is to do what the Republicans have been doing and win elections.

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