Is Overturning Roe Going to Abort GOP Chances In Midterms?

Ron Hart, a self-described “op-ed humorist,” begins a column about abortion rights as follows: “Just when you thought the Republicans would roll over the hapless Dems in November and restore some sanity to government, the Supreme Court decides to monkey with Roe v. Wade.” After this introduction, we are flooded with what are now predictable charges against those who want to limit abortion rights. Please note that, according to Hart, any restriction on feticide violates the principle “my body, my choice.” He considers Roe to be nonnegotiable, and we are assured that 60 percent of the American people feel the same way. 

Like Hart, these Americans understand “that men should not decide what women should do with their bodies. If men could get pregnant, abortion would be made available in vending machines.” Hart offers his hypothetical about how males would react if they faced the prospect of bearing children. Since we are dealing here with a counterfactual, let’s just ignore it and go on to Hart’s more thought-worthy assertions.

While about 59 percent of respondents to various polls believe that Roe v. Wade should remain in force, 57 percent of Americans also believe that abortion should only be legal in “a few circumstances” or else not legal at all. These findings clash with the majority approval expressed for Roe, a judicial decision that permits abortion well into the third trimester.

But other details get in the way of Hart’s narrative. The attempt of the Mississippi legislature to limit abortion to the first 15 weeks of gestation, except in “medical emergencies,” is hardly a male chauvinist scheme to reduce women to those helpless creatures depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. Most “progressive” European countries have abortion laws that are at least as restrictive as Mississippi’s. 

Together with Canada, North Korea, Communist China, and now, thanks to a recent “liberalization” of its relevant statutes, Israel, America has the most expansive abortion rights on the planet. Mississippi and similarly inclined states are aiming to create abortion laws that are in line with those of most other Western countries. And even if some states restrict abortion further, those wanting abortions will have the option of traveling to nearby states that will happily attend to their “health needs.” Democratic leaders in California plan to fund women who come to their state for abortions if Roe is overturned. 

Since Hart claims to be a libertarian, we might wonder why he would entrust the decision about how far abortion rights should extend for the entire country to nine unelected officials. Wouldn’t it make more sense, even from his perspective, to let American citizens decide this issue through their own state legislators, a choice that under our Constitution belonged to the “reserved rights” of the states? If Hart wants unrestricted abortion rights and I don’t, or if he favors gay marriage and I don’t, then we should be allowed to battle out our differences at the state level. We certainly don’t need the courts inventing and imposing new rights as the solution.

Such avoidance of open discussion and democratic outcomes sets a constitutionally dangerous precedent. If going along with that precedent is the price Republicans must pay for victory in the fall, then perhaps that price is too high. In any case, however, it is not the Republicans who are making what for Hart is an “ill-timed decision.” A majority of the justices seem convinced that Roe was wrongly decided, and so they want to return the abortion question to the states.

According to Justice Samuel Alito, “Stare decisis does not compel adherence to Roe’s abuse of judicial authority.” Hart offers no proof that such regrets about Roe, to whatever extent they surface during the midterms, will sink the GOP. Although a recently conducted Monmouth poll indicates that abortion has become a leading election issue along with the economy, this bone of contention has not erased the six-point lead that Republicans still enjoy in the generic poll.

Although the GOP might not devastate the Democrats in November, their association with the pro-life cause will not be the key reason. Republicans’ share of votes in an ideologically divided country may not be as great as they are hoping. This may be a factor in some races, even if Republicans show the same enthusiasm for Roe that they are now exhibiting for gay pride month. 

According to Hart, while the pro-life side believes it’s “saving a baby’s life from those who would kill it in the womb,” the pro-choice side asserts, “We have a right to choose what to do with our bodies.” But the inalienable right of women to control their bodies only goes so far for the Left. For example, it does not permit women to refuse a mandatory COVID vaccine imposed by pro-choice liberals. In defense of the pro-choice position, Hart also cites the “unwanted” condition of some children as a justification for aborting them while fetuses. Presumably, these wretches would be better off dead than being denied the right to live with “competent parents.” One wonders how the Left would treat someone who made an equivalently condescending comment for non-leftist purposes.

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

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