Roe v Wade Dies — What Then?
Implications of a massive change
Last night’s 5–4 ruling on the shadow docket regarding SB8, the novel Texas law handing enforcement of a detected-heartbeat abortion ban to individuals rather than state officers, means Roe is squarely in the sights of the Court.
The Court will likely rule 5–4 or 6–3 to allow a Mississippi 15-week ban to be upheld and in sometime next year, and in doing so will overturn Roe v Wade and Casey v Planned Parenthood.
What happens then?
- The abortion issue effectively gets kicked to the states. Given the filibuster and the existence of pro-life Democrat Joe Manchin, no laws on abortion will squeeze through the House and Senate. Democrats might try some reconciliation shenanigans to get a 50-vote law dealing solely with funding, but even that is not likely to pass given the make-up of the Senate. Instead, it will be up to states to set rules on when abortions can happen and if they can be funded with public money.
- State elections will focus on abortion like never before. Be prepared for more campaigning on the issue, especially in hotly contested states, in the next decade or longer. Governors and state legislators will matter on the issue like never before, where they could shunt the matter to the national level and speak little of it except where it pandered to their base.
- Red and Purple states will likely lose abortion providers, if they even have any. Red states are a no-brainer — many of those states are down to a handful or none. Purple states will see providers try to hang on but be struck by the ups-and-downs of shifting political fortunes. In North Carolina, for example, a Republican governor could very easily pass laws with the current make-up of the state House and Senate which the next Democratic governor may well combat but find it is too late. Providers cannot exist in a legal up-and-down.
- Women will have to travel out of state for abortions if they want them. The biggest question then will be: how does a state handle someone who leaves? States may well pass laws that have criminal penalties for women who leave the state for elective late-term abortions. The crossing-state-lines thing will become an issue, for sure.
- Blue states will become more blue; Red states will become more red. This is already happening as people move from rural to urban areas like never before.
- Cries against the filibuster or for new states will only increase. As rural senators represent fewer and fewer people, their hold over the senate (especially with the filibuster) will remain, meaning even a solid Democratic majority (say 54 Democrats) still could not pass abortion legislation.
- Democrats will have to soften on the issue of abortion restrictions or lose purple states entirely. Once Roe is gone, the matter of “how many restrictions are OK” is actually much more mixed than pro-choicers would have you believe. A majority of Americans support SOME restrictions, especially on second- and third-trimester abortions. Democrats will not be able to run a Hillary Clinton-style NARAL-approved campaign at the state level in purple states and hope to win. There will have to be pro-life Democrats or the party risks losing state houses in many purple states and losing US Senate seats across the board.
- The Church had better be ready to be as pro-life as we say we are. Are we ready to adopt? Ready to foster? Ready to help the unwed mother? Ready to rebuke the unwed abandoning father? Ready to dive into community? We have to put our money where our mouth is on this one.
- CHRISTIANS NEED TO RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. What happens when we default vote pro-life without running good candidates? We end up with a broad set of terribly un-Christian people serving as our “representatives.” Why are good folks so slow to run for something? Yes there is risk. Yes there is public ridicule. Yes it is difficult. But supposedly, I was told, Christians were made “for such a time as this.” Instead of sitting back and letting businesses and smoky back rooms pick pro-life candidates who favor a broad set of interests that have nothing to do with Jesus, why not go get engaged? Politics are about to get even wilder. Time for some level heads and soft hearts.