Alabama passed legislation this week that almost totally bans abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and targets doctors who perform the procedure. The measure will obviously have massive legal consequences per the abortion debate in this country. It will also have a pronounced effect on the 2020 presidential race.
Like a live grenade.
Dems are betting that since Roe v. Wade most Americans, especially young women, consider it the status quo and will show up at the polls in droves if it is threatened. That party is itching for a fight on this because it could distract voters from other issues like the economy where they expect the president to have the advantage. The press, of course, will act as a hysterical echo chamber for Dem talking points.
For the GOP this bill comes at a bad time. Right after Trump’s reelection would have been much better. It could take operationally libertarian Republicans, again particularly young women, who vote on the economy and also see Roe as acceptable, and persuade them to heed the siren song of the Dems. On the other hand, it will also draw very motivated pro-life voters to the polls in big numbers, specifically evangelical voters.
Which party benefits? Where will the SCOTUS go?
Well, to get this out of the way, regardless of politics, Roe is bad law. Now, I’m no attorney or legal scholar. Though, enough of them of higher erudition than me on the subject have said, and it is clear to even a casual observer, that there is no “constitutional right” to abortion at all. To claim otherwise, to go hunting in the 14th Amendment for a rationale, is patently absurd. But the 70s ideological hiccup to the Bolshie 60s was indeed an absurd time on the high court and otherwise. Will this more conservative court turn that around? Before or after the election?
If the Alabama bill was upheld it may not even overturn Roe completely. It could just return the decision to the states, a compromise many would favor. That factor will not stop Roe proponents from claiming the sky is falling and that scabrous old men will be hiding in bedroom closets ready to pounce on the personal lives of every American citizen. That’s why the GOP has given lip service to pro-life positions, though has not spent a lot of political capital on them over the years. Republican eras came and went —the Reagan and Gingrich epochs come to mind— and Roe stayed on the books basically unchallenged.
However, the Alabama bill has forced their hand. The president seems to be seriously pro-life. Though, I wonder if he agrees with the lack of exceptions on rape and incest. Expect the Dems to definitely put a woman on the ticket now; they were going to anyway as a token, so that a female can walk point on this issue and personalize the debate for women in general.
Given myriad scenarios, it really is too early to make a credible prediction on the law or the election effects other than to say, again, this coming up now is not good timing for the GOP.
But what is right and wrong is not always regulated by a shot clock.