(Trends Wide) — After the celebration and mourning comes the chaos of a nation divided by bitter political differences that now determine where women can access abortions.
Friday’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right that gave women the freedom to terminate their pregnancies is setting off aftershocks that have already begun to change the character of American life.
The decision is making it clear that an audacious conservative majority on the Supreme Court, willing to trample on long-standing precedent, has introduced a destabilizing dynamic that may go far beyond abortion in a country already alienated internally by the ideology.
More practically, abortion services have suddenly ended in some conservative states. On Friday, women in some places were told as soon as the Supreme Court decision was issued that their ability to have an abortion in the state was gone.
• Wisconsin has returned to a 19th century law that prohibits abortion.
• South Dakota’s last abortion clinic is preparing to move to Minnesota.
• Other red states are expected to act within days.
More liberal states like California are promising to serve as safe havens for women, creating interstate clashes that will further balkanize America.
Fear is growing among progressives about what the court will do next. At the nationwide Gay Pride parades this weekend, the painful question was whether the hard-won right to same-sex marriage, enshrined by the court just seven years ago, is now at risk from activist judges. Uncertainty is growing about how the ruling will affect fertility treatments and even contraception. And companies are hastily hammering out plans to compensate employees or extend health insurance to cover out-of-state abortion services, but they also worry that alienated leaders in Republican states are willing to fight.
Abortion is a deeply personal issue for people of all political beliefs. Many conservatives see the procedure as the murder of an unborn child. Many other Americans see the Supreme Court move as a cruel violation of human rights, that is, a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body. Public opinion is often more nuanced than the black-and-white certainties of political debate, especially about when in pregnancy abortion should be allowed and what exceptions should be made for rape, incest, or the health of the mother, but the The reality remains that a clear majority of the country did not want the court to reverse Roe v. Wade.
The near future of abortion in the United States after the court ruling
The rationale behind the court’s conservative majority was that by returning the issue to the states, it would allow for a democratic resolution of a contentious national issue. The last three days suggest that the position was either naive or deliberately self-deceptive.
Republican leaders are already struggling, and in many cases failing, to find answers about how and if they will help new mothers, forcing them to have children they may not want, including in some cases after rape and incest.
In at least half of the United States, the Supreme Court ruling promised new hardships for poor and minority Americans who, in many cases, cannot afford to travel for an abortion or are already burdened by insufficient medical care. social services.
Top Democrats responded with strong words and promises to fight back, but they have yet to mount an effective response, either politically before 2022 or practically on the ground, where millions of women are suddenly disenfranchised.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the court has “set fire” to her legitimacy. And New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who accused conservative justices of lying in their Senate confirmation hearings about how they would rule on abortion, said impeachment should be on the table.
But as President Joe Biden left Saturday for the G7 summit of industrialized nations in Germany, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she would stand by her opposition to expanding the court and removing filibuster from the Senate. While this latest move would be necessary to codify abortion rights, it is unlikely that all Democrats in the Senate will agree to abolish the 60-vote threshold. This new evidence of the gap between Biden and progressives may fuel new speculation about his position in his party as he prepares to run for re-election.
Republicans celebrate, but face new scrutiny
After a surprise conservative victory that thrilled the GOP base, Republicans hoping to broaden their national appeal must also consider how to position themselves in ways that don’t alienate moderate voters and some women amid complex and nuanced attitudes toward abortion.
Former President Donald Trump was enjoying his due credit for installing a radical conservative majority on the Supreme Court. As a crowd at a rally in Illinois chanted “Thank you Trump” on Saturday night, the former commander-in-chief proclaimed a “victory for life.” Privately, however, Trump was concerned about the impact of the turmoil on his White House hopes in 2024 and on Republicans, The New York Times reported.
Whatever the merits of the hotly debated recent court decisions on guns and the place of religion in society, the overturning of the Roe v. Wade of 1973 revealed a harsh reality about the newly authoritarian Republican Party. The party’s most prominent figure, Trump, sought to deny voters their most fundamental right to elect their leader with his lies and attempted coup after the 2020 election. Then the majority on the Supreme Court he built, along with with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s questionable confirmation maneuvers, he removed a constitutional right from Americans for the first time in history, blatantly ignoring majority opinion. This confluence of radicalism will have huge implications for American democracy for years to come.
For decades, the battle to end abortion has been a central issue in Republican politics. But now, suddenly, it has also become a government challenge.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, for example, dodged questions on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday about whether she would offer paid leave to pregnant women deprived of abortions, expand health care and how the state would enforce his opposition to the use of abortion pills mailed from other states.
“We’re going to make sure mothers have the resources and the protection and the health care that they need. And we’re being aggressive about that,” he said before moving on to an unrelated attack on Biden in an interview long on topic but short on detail.
Democrats seek an answer
The Democratic response to Friday’s Supreme Court decision has so far been a mix of disbelief, anger and promises not to give up the fight, but so far, without a clear strategy.
A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted on Friday and Saturday found that 59% of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision. That should give Democrats a solid foundation to turn the 2024 midterm elections and presidential race into a referendum on the Supreme Court. But high inflation and record gasoline prices threaten to doom the party’s majorities in Congress regardless.
On Trends Wide’s “State of the Union,” Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams pointed to a Georgia law set to take effect in days that bans abortion at six weeks, while seeking to use the issue as a weapon against his Republican opponent and current governor in one of the marquee midterm races.
“I would say to anyone, whether you’re a businessperson or a citizen who is thinking about being in Georgia, to be very mindful of the danger that Brian Kemp poses to the lives and well-being of women in this state,” Abrams told Jake. tapper.
Speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the court had undermined her own legitimacy.
“They just took the latest and set it on fire with the Roe v. Wade opinion,” the Massachusetts Democrat said, calling for more justices to be added to the court.
A court does not lose legitimacy simply because it issues opinions that certain politicians may not agree with. And conservative scholars would argue that the majority’s recent rulings are justified on constitutional grounds. But the controversial construction of the right-wing majority — after McConnell paved the way for Friday’s ruling by blocking former President Barack Obama’s nominee in an election year and bringing Trump’s latest nominee to court under the same circumstances — without doubt has tarnished their image. As has the fact that several senators now say they were misled by Trump’s nominees about how they would adjudicate abortion cases.
Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court should be impeached for “lying under oath” about their positions on abortion. But even if the Democratic-led House were to pursue such a risky strategy, it is inconceivable that there would be a two-thirds majority to convict in the closely divided Senate.
But a new week could bring new decisions that underline the radicalism of the majority of the Supreme Court. He has already used his opinion in the abortion case to almost mock critics who warn that he should consider the impact of his literal reading of the Constitution, written in the 18th century, on 21st century society.