The Politics of Abortion
The midterm campaign has now begun for real.
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Political junkies have been chattering about the midterm elections for quite a while now. But the campaign has just now begun for real.
It began, as I say, “for real,” when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. Republicans were energized long before the Court handed down its ruling last week. Now, so are Democrats.
There was a belief that nothing could stop the red wave that would wash out Democratic congressional candidates in November. It wasn’t only Republicans and independents who saw the tsunami coming. Democrats were resigned to what seemed inevitable too — and so, they might have stayed home on Election Day. Joe Biden didn’t excite them, either.
Now, Democrats have an issue to get worked up over. And, more importantly, so do swing voters and even moderate Republicans. Women — and men too — with college educations who live in the suburbs who might have voted for GOP candidates in November, will now have second thoughts.
Are Republicans too radical, they’ll ask themselves. Is Roe a one-off or are there more decisions like it just over the horizon?
And it’s not an unreasonable question. Even though the Court’s majority said its opinion involves only abortion, Clarence Thomas threw in his own thoughts on the decision, writing that the Court should now re-consider some of its other decisions that, in his view, have questionable constitutional merit — decisions on same sex marriage and whether there’s a constitutional right to buy contraceptives.
There may be a certain legal logic to this thinking, but it was a political hand grenade that Democrats, predictably, are already tossing around. Be assured that Republicans would have done the same thing if the tables were turned.
I’m not suggesting that Democrats are going to hold the House in November. There’s still inflation and crime and the southern border mess that works in favor of Republican candidates.
But I am suggesting that the Court’s decision to overthrow Roe … and the concurrent decision of some states to outlaw abortion entirely, to even forbid the procedure in cases involving rape and incest, will weigh heavily on the minds of moderate voters who live in districts that could go either way in the midterms.
And I’m guessing that even if they don’t say it out loud, more than a few Republicans are figuring it would have been better if the Mississippi abortion case had gone to the Supreme Court some other time, like after the 2022 midterms or better yet, after the 2024 presidential election.
One more thing: Democrats run the risk of offending those same moderate swing voters if they come out with new abortion laws with absolutely no restrictions — abortion on demand up until the moment the woman gives birth.
Make no mistake, that’s what a lot on the left would like, even though it's out of the American mainstream. And since the Court’s decision throws abortion back to the states, we can expect laws in blue states that go way beyond Roe.
The Supreme Court decision to overthrow Roe v Wade didn’t end the long running debate on abortion in America. There’s more to come. A lot more.