Here’s how US politics would change if Roe v. Wade was canceled this summer


If the judges do, it will not only make the possibility of obtaining a legal abortion more difficult in about 22 states, but it could also change US policy in significant and structural ways.

Here are four ways in which politics could change quickly just a few months before next year’s midterm election.

All policies are state based

If Roe is toppled, it will be a triumph for social conservatives who have sought to bring the fight to the States for decades. Before Roe, access to abortion was a patchwork of different states, where some banned it, some allowed it, and in other states it happened without much government involvement.

Like the ruling that allowed same-sex marriage nationwide, Roe replaced all state laws and limited restrictions on abortion until the third trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, canceling Roe would mean that the abortion issue would come back to the United States.

Today, in an age when all politics (even city council) are driven by conversation in Washington, toppling Roe would significantly shift the center of power to state capitals when it comes to abortion rights.

In particular, there could be a lot of emphasis on governor races. While governors cannot pass abortion legislation on their own, they can veto or sign a bill with dramatic consequences for those who request an abortion in a way that a member of Congress would not. can not.

Trump and COVID drop off main political agenda

While other issues have grown in importance, polls suggest that three major topics that have guided U.S. policy over the past year have been the economy, Donald Trump, and COVID. While the economy rarely leaves the debate, abortion could very well become a defining issue by November 2022. That’s not to say that a decision overturning Roe would change everyone’s mind about whether l abortion should be legal, but it will be, for the first time. since the historic decision, put the energy entirely on the left to change the laws.

This will mean that new political institutions will develop, that the advertisements will work to galvanize an abortion rights base, and there could be a new level of activism that may have to work for decades until. the Supreme Court has a different composition.

The abortion debate is getting super specific and confusing

A technical point here is how abortion would be discussed in a post-Roe America. Since 1973, Americans and their politicians have been offered a binary choice when it comes to abortion: do they think the court ruling should stay or should it go away? If the decision is overturned, we will have a more difficult, but very important, conversation.

For example, if abortion is to be banned in a certain place, then who is going to enforce such a law, who is going to be charged with a crime, and what is the specific charge and penalty? Is it years in prison? An offense ?

In addition, even for states where there are abortion rights, there is no longer a federal framework to follow. So how many weeks away should abortion be legal? Until birth? Third trimester ? Since lawmakers may need to cost the law, we might see debates over 20 weeks versus 21 weeks.

It’s a conversation some states haven’t really had.

Technology, not courts or votes, will be a game-changer

While abortion rights advocates may focus on the short-term strategy of winning state capitals and the long-term strategy of securing a different US Supreme Court, the reality is that it is the technology that is what is needed. will shape the debate and what is possible to legislate.

For example, unlike before Roe, women can now get abortions with medication up to 10 weeks pregnant. Although it is currently not legal to administer such drugs by mail, if that were to change, there would be no way to prevent a woman from receiving a pill in the mail in some envelope.

Obviously, this would only work if a woman knew she was pregnant before 10 weeks, knew about the pill, and had the ability to get it on time. But what if a different pill were developed that would allow women to manage their own abortions even later in pregnancy?

Indeed, the action here could be in the scientific community and not at all in politics.

James Pindell can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jamespindell.


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