Abortion Proves a Hot Topic for Politics Even When Resolution Is Far Away
When controversy erupts in an election year, Democrats and Republicans sometimes decide it’s better to have the burning problem than the solution.
Not that a fix is possible for the recently leaked US Supreme Court ruling on abortion. The first draft of the decision, written by Judge Samuel Alito, has yet to be released, but the famous – or infamous, depending on your perspective – 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is known to have been ill-decided.
Assuming the High Court returns the abortion issue to all 50 states, we’ll see a scramble of some states like New York and California enshrining abortion choice in law, while other states like Mississippi and Texas are enforcing restrictions their legislatures have already passed. The leaked decision came in a Mississippi case involving a ban on abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation, which was enacted in an effort to test Roe in the current Supreme Court.
It’s no coincidence that pro-choice and anti-abortion lawmakers are split, for the most part, in red and blue — with Democrats wanting to restore the freedoms the Court granted women nearly 50 years ago, Republicans seizing a long-sought opportunity to roll back abortion rights. Just last week, the US Senate demonstrated how decidedly partisan the issue is.
Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, DN.Y., knew he would lose when he forced a ground showdown over a bill to codify the Roe decision into federal law. But he wanted Republicans registered, and a closing vote failed 51-49. Only Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., broke ranks to side with the Republicans.
Avoiding a filibuster to enshrine abortion choice in law — rather than having it as a now doomed legal precedent — would require 60 votes in the Senate and neither side has that strength. But both sides have trouble, with elections just six months away.
Moments after the Senate vote, U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando issued a fundraising request saying Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “was among the Republicans who voted against protecting the right to Choose…. I’m sick of Marco Rubio telling women what to do. She runs against him.
The Florida Democratic Party rushed to release a statement accusing both Rubio and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., of denying women control over their bodies. Well, that’s not exactly what they did. Rather than tell anyone what to do, Rubio and Scott voted not to cut off debate on the bill codifying Roe. It would have been surprising and utterly irrelevant if either senator had voted with the Democrats, especially on abortion.
Republicans have been cautiously reluctant since Justice Alito’s draft opinion leaked. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it’s “possible” Republicans would impose a national abortion ban if they take control of Congress next year, but that’s a rather lukewarm response to such a hot topic.
Governor Ron DeSantis, also a candidate for re-election, has been particularly careful in avoiding comment on the disappearance of abortion freedom. But no one who pays attention to it can doubt his position.
DeSantis recently signed a 15-week abortion limit similar to Mississippi law pending in the nation’s highest court. It was among a batch of conservative goodies — a ban on transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports, a Congressional redistricting card favoring the GOP, a “Stop WOKE” law banning schools and employers from enforcing political correctness. , the banning of critical race theory in public schools. The governor hardly needs an abortion to show his conservative good faith.
Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding the alarm that Roe’s reversal is only the first step to reversing much of the progress of the past 70 years. If the Court can back down on abortion, they warn, what would stop GOP-appointed judges from overturning the legalization of same-sex marriage, interracial marriages or even the 1954 inclusive school milestone? ?
It’s what politicians call a “parade of horribles,” over-the-top rhetoric meant to inflame the Democratic base. With the exception of a few deranged enemies, the American people have pretty much accepted these principles and there is no serious effort to overturn them.
Although about 70 percent now support keeping abortion legal, Roe has been regularly attacked in the courts, Congress, and state legislatures throughout the half-century of her existence. So, Roe or no Roe, the resolution remains distant and the burning question remains.
Bill Cotterell is a retired Democratic Capitol reporter from Tallahassee who writes a column twice a week. He can be contacted at email@example.com