Friday, 28 May 2021

Attack on Roe v. Wade Could Backfire on Conservative Repuglicans

The State of Abortion and Contraception Attitudes in All 50 States | PRRI

With a stable majority of Americans supporting a woman's right to abortion in all or most cases, attempts to repeal Roe v. Wade in SCOTUS, exploiting the new Trump-supplied right-wing majority, could backfire badly on the Repuglicans, since conservative evangelicals tend to be the only demographic group with less than 50% support for the continuing legality of abortions, so repealing Roe v. Wade could precipitate a move of moderate and liberal red voters to vote blue in red states. Most of the opposition, by numbers, comes from white evangelical Christians, matched only by a few minority faiths such as Mormons, Jehovah's Winesses and Hispanic Catholics. All the major non-evangelicals are strongly or moderately pro-abortion legality in all or most cases.

What a repeal of Roe v. Wade would produce is a situation where Repuglican politicians in red states would no longer be able to pander to their evangelical base by passing anti-abortion legislation, confident that it will be struck down in the lower courts, so they can pose as champions of conservative 'values', thwarted by a liberal establishment.

They would then be faced with the choice of continuing to pander to their extremist wing by passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion measures and accepting the consequences of losing large numbers of their less extreme supporters to the Democrts or alientating the fanatics by not using their new-found freedom to restrict a woman's right to choose.

And America could end even more divided, with a situation where women are crossing state borders to get the abortion services that aren't available in their home state because the extremists have banned them, and a black market in morning-after pills and abortion-inducing medication, to be taken without medcal supervision or access to health-care.

Writing in Washington Monthly recently, Bill Scher said:
To take away existing abortion rights in these Sun Belt states could turbocharge the leftward shift, because those with college diplomas are more pro-choice than those without. A Pew Research Center poll from April found that 68 percent of college graduates believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, versus 50 percent of non-graduates. And a Gallup poll from last May found that 62 percent of college graduates self-identify as “pro-choice,” versus 41 percent of non-graduates. (In the Pew poll, 67 percent of Blacks and 68 percent Asians supported legal abortion, while support among Hispanics was a relatively softer but still healthy majority of 58 percent.) In recent years, abortion has animated the Right more than the Left. A 2020 Public Religion Research Institute poll, which explored issue positions and priorities of different racial and religious groups, determined that white evangelical Protestants were the only subgroup with a majority (63 percent) considering abortion to be a “critical” issue, and they were the group with the lowest share (22 percent) believing abortion should be legal. But if the Supreme Court overturns or guts Roe and Casey, priorities will change radically. Little in politics is more motivating than a governmental body taking from you something that you already had. And the right to decide whether or when one becomes a parent is a decision that determines the path of one’s entire life. Abortion rights will not be stripped without a fight.

The likelihood of Sun Belt backlash makes Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent signature of a “fetal heartbeat” bill politically perplexing. Texas joined several other red states in passing such legislation, which defines “fetal heartbeat” as “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac,” and says the gestational sac “is typically visible by ultrasound after the fourth week of pregnancy.” (The Associated Press notes that, “at the point where advanced technology can detect that first flutter, as early as six weeks, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and it doesn’t have a heart,” raising the question whether “fetal heartbeat” is an appropriate term.)
It could well turn out then, that if SCOTUS does pander to the evangelicals who indirectly, through Donald Trump, gave them their right-wing majority, Repugnican legislators who pander to the evangelical minorities in their states and effectively ban abortions, could be handing the state over to the Democrats.

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  1. Or to put it another way, overturning Roe v. Wade reinforces the rationale for Republican efforts at voter suppression. Letting Democrats vote will endanger the babies! Won't anyone think of the children?

  2. Sure, it could turn out this way. Four or five years ago, before the conventional wisdom about how politics works had been overturned by Trump's success, maybe it would have seemed very likely that if the packed SCOTUS the Rs have been planning and working to get for two generations were to actually go ahead and kill Roe v Wade, which was a good bit of the motivation for all that planning and working, it would backfire on them as described here. Therefore, the reasoning went, it was a win-win for our side. Either they fail to use a SCOTUS majority to end Roe v Wade and that shows their base just how hollow all that planning and working for Rs was, or they take an axe to Roe v Wade and lose the swing voters.

    Well, the past 4-5 years did happen. Before Trump, the conventional wisdom was that the Rs had to keep their white power appeal on a dog whistle basis, or they would alienate so many swing voters that they would face electoral disaster. Then they went with Trump, or rather, Trump dragged their conventionally minded Rs with him kicking and screaming. Well, kicking and screaming until they realized overt white power messaging wasn't a disaster. More recently they have found that overt insurrection isn't a popular opinion disaster either, so that's mainstream now in their party.

    Moderate R voters, or swing voters at all inclined to vote R, would long since have abandoned the Rs if the conventional way of looking at how our politics works, actually worked. It doesn't. Folks for whom insurrection as a tool of politics does not put the Rs beyond the pale, are not going to desert the party over Roe v Wade being overturned. The more well-off among the potential deserters don't use abortion that much anyway, and if they do want to use that freedom even after their state has outlawed it, abortion is no further away than the nearest blue state. A trip is a nice break from routine for the well-off. The less well-off of the potential deserters over abortion aren't going to be allowed to vote by the next election anyway.

    The Rs made a bargain with the devil when they took over the segregationist franchise from the Ds over a half century ago, and many of us positively licked our chops over the advent of Trump, because it sure looked like the Devil had finally showed up to collect and drag the whole damned party down to electoral defeat behind that sure loser Trump. Trump was the monster they created over a half century of dog-whistling white power, come back, out loud and proud, as a racist.

    Sure, the Rs also made a devil's bargain over abortion and other cultural war issues, and created the Frankenstein monster of their current SCOTUS majority, but don't count on even that monster's worst depredations turning on its makers.


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