The overturning of Roe vs. Wade became a distinct reality, if not a dead certainty, with the election of George Bush last November. Now the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor moves us closer to the day when regulating abortion will be returned to the states.
Moving the abortion issue out of the courts and onto ballots in the states will be a victory for the extreme Right. But one plausible theory published in today’s Los Angeles Times suggests that an unintended consequence of overturning Roe would be an irreparable rift between the liberal and conservative wings of the Republican party.
Liberal Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudolph Guiliani, John McCain and senators from the Northeast like Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, Lincoln Chaffee and others would be forced to take a stand – to change their views or change their party.
[The] prospect of … overturning Roe … has exposed a disagreement between conservatives who want abortion criminalized and pragmatic Republicans concerned that shifting the issue from the courts to the ballot box would lead to massive GOP losses. Of particular concern is the party’s fate in closely contested battlegrounds such as Ohio, Florida and Michigan, where the resurgence of the abortion issue could alienate moderate voters who have helped Republicans make gains on all levels.
Not only would the GOP lose the only members of its leadership who have a smidge of cross-over appeal, it would be out of step with a majority of voters.
A May survey of registered voters by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., found that 55% believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases — including 6 in 10 independents and more than a third of Republicans.
Another May survey, conducted for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, found that 55% of adults believed the matter should be left up to a woman and her doctor.
Ann Stone, chairman of Republicans for Choice, says the Republican leadership is fully aware that the outlawing abortion is a political loser. After all, they control the executive and legislative branches of government now but no one is proposing legislation that would ban abortion.
“If they thought it was a winning issue, they would have had a vote,” she told the Times. “This could wind up being a case of getting what you wish for and then regretting it.”