Wednesday, July 06, 2005

the politics of abortion

As usual, Will Saletan's right on the money: overturning Roe v. Wade is bad politics for the GOP, but putting greater restrictions on abortion is good politics. As the court stands now, adding an anti-Roe justice to replace O'Connor will only move the court towards more abortion restrictions, not an outright reversal of Roe. Only if John Paul Stevens steps down during Bush's term will Roe really be in danger. The math being what it is, Bush can keep nominally pro-choice Alberto Gonzalez on the backburner until his hand is forced.

The Democrats are cleverly triangulating, hoping to provoke a Gonzalez nomination with the atteendant wingnut outcry. But really, nothing would be better politically for Democrats than to have Roe overturned by some right-wing judicial activist (yes, judicial activists tend to be the right-wing guys) that Bush is likely to nominate. When I canvassed in Ohio in November, folks would go up to Ben, who was running for Congress, and immediately ask him where he stood on abortion. No questions on health care or jobs in a state coughing up jobs by the thousands. It's all about one issue. Right now, you have many more one-issue pro-lifers than pro-choicers; their intensity is based on the injustice of living in a country that condones the killing of fetuses. That intensity helps the Republican Party, which uses the religious right as "foot soldiers" to gain votes while pursuing an agenda bent on crony capitalism. The wildly successful exploitation of the religious right by the business elite is at the heart of the GOP's electoral success the last four years. Roe gets overturned, and all of a sudden it's a free for all. The pro-choice forces get their intensity back, and the moderate (largely pro-choice w/ restrictions types) will care about the issue again.

Roe isn't great law to begin with. Let it go and organize to get pro-choice legislation passed instead.