Friday, August 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

If John McCain is elected the next American president, I suspect that opponents of Roe v. Wade will, after decades of waiting, finally get their wish and see the ruling overturned by the Supreme Court. This, after the inevitable retirements of Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Ginsberg, and their replacement with judges in the right-wing school of Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas.

So what will happen then?

Immediately, the question of abortion rights will be kicked back to the states, leaving each to decide whether to ban the practice or not. As a result, states will draw their lines, and make the so-called Culture War going on in this country erupt into something far more vitriolic, with pro-choice states building legal walls to keep out pro-life ones, and vice versa.

However, on a political level, overturning Roe will prove a classic case of taking care of what one wishes for, because they—meaning conservatives--just might get it.

In this scenario, after years of Republicans back-loading the courts with conservative judges, the result will be throngs of women voters newly furious that their abortion rights—whether they ever planned to use them or not—have been revoked.

And in response, Republicans will return to their home districts with shoulders shrugged, claiming they are blameless for the overturning of Roe. After all, the courts did it. But here's the catch – these conservatives will then have to clarify to their female constituents whether they support the new ruling or not, undoubtedly leading to a lot of squirming, and muttering of "I'll get back to you on that."

Abortion rights will become a key election year issue wherein candidates must state (again and again) whether they support a woman's reproductive rights or not. And the result will snap back in the faces of the Republican Party—at every level--like a rattlesnake prodded from a nap.

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