Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A nation divided: Abortion in post-Roe America

At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte looks at the Republican fascination with abortion and what could happen if Roe is overturned. As you'll see on the map at her post, it's likely that quite a few states -- red states, mostly -- would ban abortion.

But I do wonder just how far state legislatures would go. Abortion would no doubt be banned in heavily anti-abortion states, such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah, but I suspect that more moderate states would only go so far as to restrict access to and the availability of abortion. For example, I can't quite see Michigan and Wisconsin banning it outright. Most states would either keep it legal or apply minimal restrictions (as in Pennsylvania already).

I still think that Democrats would benefit from the overturning of Roe insofar as the Republicans would finally be exposed for what many of them are, which is rabidly and unapologetically anti-choice -- but is that a risk worth taking?

I suspect not. America -- and American women -- would hardly benefit from such bitter divisions.

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  • To add another wrinkle, there is already a defacto abortion restriction in many red states because there are so few abortion providers. It's possible (although I don't know enough to stand behind this speculation) that the overturning of Roe would not change things much for those states.

    I'm not rooting for Roe's demise, but seeing how the wind blows, it must be considered as a possibility and we should strategize accordingly.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:37 PM  

  • Excellent point, Battlepanda.

    Unfortunately, too many people (on both sides) see the abortion issue in terms of black and white -- that is, in terms of pro-choice and pro-life. Although may pro-lifers continue to support an extreme anti-abortion position, more practical pro-lifers have moved into the grey area between the extremes. In so doing, they have incrementally rolled back the legality of abortion in many states, so much so that, as you indicate, there isn't much choice in some states. Consider the recent abortion battles in Pennsylvania. Conservative courts, including the Supreme Court, have largely upheld abortion restrictions.

    I'm not rooting for Roe's demise either, but we do indeed need to prepare for a post-Roe era. With Alito likely to be confirmed, it might just be around the corner.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 7:09 PM  

  • I don't think they really want to go that far. Isn't that one of the biggest vote getters and sources cash for the Right Wing? I mean the promise to overturn Roe.

    By Blogger merlallen, at 11:51 AM  

  • I think you'll find that this is more a religious position than a political one but then you couldn't characterize all Republicans as being "rabidly and unapologetically anti-choice". For a Moderate Voice, this sounds more like a Republican bashing voice. Too bad, you might find that there are many pro-choice Republicans.
    Don't get so paranoid..remember David Souter?

    By Blogger American Crusader, at 12:06 PM  

  • Hmmm, I don't think that Michael has claimed to be soly a "Moderate Voice," that would more likely be Joe G.

    As for "pro-choice Republicans," it has been made very clear that the GOP isn't interested in any of them past a few tokens.

    I think the GOP is willing to have Roe v Wade be overturned on two levels -- (a) the overturn lets them say "See! We delivered! We are god's army!" and (b) they can keep the money rolling in by pointing out How Evil the ACLU! and Gay Marriage! are.

    By Blogger Craig R., at 12:19 PM  

  • The nomination of Mr Alito to join the Supreme Court brings with it the reasoning which he has already propounded that there is in the married condition itself the right of any married man to be informed of any pregnancy his wife may be carrying and to have a say in the future of that pregnancy regardless of the decision of the wife to the contrary.
    Two of the people who gave me form were permanently and gravely injured by botched abortions. Both of these women were married. Abortion was an excruciating decision for each neither was able to rely on the support of her husband in the excrutiatin experience which followed. One took place when all abortions were illegal and one when medically safe abortion was the law of the land but available only to middle class women who could afford interstate travel. In other words, legal but unavailable.
    Even in instances where there are no basic disagreements between spouses about the future of a pregnancy, imposing legal barriers to a woman's full control of a her choices can and has caused abominable intrusion into the marriages of couples who are in complete agreement about the woman's right to that full measure of control. Legalisms just do not move as fast a life does.
    A woman of my aquaintance was a citzen of Australia. she was denied a potentially lifesaving emergency treatment as she lay near death from an obstetric emergency. The law of the land was that any proceedure which could potentially make her sterile had to be permitted by her husband and they couldn't locate him. Husband located, she was allowed to live.
    The law which nearly cost my friend her life when it delayed treatment that she desperately needed was moot. She and her husband were in agreement that a decision which impacted her so severely would always have been left to her.

    As has been said about the institution of democracy, leaving the choice to terminate a pregnancy always and solely in the hands of the woman is not ideal it's just that any other choice is so much worse.

    By Blogger caffeinemomma, at 12:48 PM  

  • Arlen Specter is a token? How about Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)?
    Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)?
    Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)?
    Senator John Warner (R-VA)?
    Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)?
    Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)?
    Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)?
    Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK)?
    I guess it's easier to lump all Republicans in the same group then to actually do a little research.

    Did you know that in a 2004 survey (American Viewpoint)shows that 73% of registered Republicans believe the right to choose is up to a woman and not the government.?

    This is a moral/religious issue more than it is a political issue.

    By Blogger American Crusader, at 1:18 PM  

  • that's a nice laundry list of Republicans, but I guarantee you most, if not all, will vote to confirm the likes of Alito and all those other Federal judges loved by the Gang of 14.

    P.S. If you want to see what the end of Roe would look like, google "South Dakota abortion."

    I'm just saying.

    By Blogger Ara, at 1:40 PM  

  • Michael, I think you're hopelessly optimistic on your idea of what states would and would not ban abortion. I have no doubt Missouri would do so as long as the current crop of legislators is in place. Especially if it came up while we still have our current governor. Kansas deserves its pink status. Oklahoma would definitely ban it. They did elect Senator Coburn after all. Arkansas certainly deserves a strong pink if not red. I think the map has a good argument in its favor.

    american crusader, of the senators on your list only Collins, Chafee and maybe Warner would vote against any Bush court nominee no matter how far to the right they were. Stevens? Please. As long as there was a payoff with enough pork for Alaska he'd go along with anything. As far as the 73% number is concerned I'd have to then ask why they reliably vote in so many anti-choice lawmakers.

    By Blogger Jim Satterfield, at 12:45 AM  

  • Battlepanda makes an excellent point. I grew up with Wyoming, where I bet most women seeking an abortion would have to drive a four-hour-minimum round trip to get one. As likely as not, that trip would be to another state. I'm not sure how much more women would lose than they haven't already.

    American Crusader, I now live in Virginia, and if John Warner is pro-choice, he's awfully quiet about it. Further, if this is a moral/religious issue rather than a political issue, then why do choice issues have such a stranglehold on both the parties? Because both parties get committed party voters from them, that's why. Committed party voters, not "registered Republicans" who may vote party-line one election and for Democrats the next.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:27 PM  

  • I wouldn't bet money that Wisconsin would never ban abortion. In 1998, it effectively did. The law called for life prison terms for doctors who performed "partial-birth" abortions. It was so vaguely worried that at one point, all (meaning "all 6") of the state's women's clinics that provided abortion services closed, for fear of prosecution for providing even early-term abortions, though apparently the law was only meant to cover late-term abortions. The original law, which provided an exception only if such an abortion would save the woman's life, was ruled unconstitutional. Eventually. But "partial-birth" abortions are still considered Class A felonies, which come with a life sentence. If a law like this could get passed once, why not again, only more restrictive? As it is, the state does require counseling and a 24-hour wait, so there are certainly steps being taken to make it more difficult for women to get abortions in that state. (I only know this cause a commenter elsewhere mentioned the ban, so I went digging to verify it.)

    I suspect that, rather than an outright banning, more and more states would just keep piling on more and more restrictions, which, in the end, amounts to the same thing, and probably won't rile up as many people as an outright reversal of Roe.

    (Jumped over here from your post on TMV, btw.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 AM  

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