The Democrats’ Roe v. Wade Pitfall

The clear possibility that the Supreme Court would completely overturn the Roe v. Wade case has caused – predictably – a polarizing debate that doesn’t sit well with most Americans. Both political parties can go too far and — if the past is only a prelude — can happen. Democrats hope to gain gains on the issue but could lose them if they yield to pressure from activist groups.

Let’s start with the top figures. Public opinion on Roe has remained unchanged for a quarter of a century: A firm but not overwhelming majority supported the decision, while a staunch minority opposed it. Not surprisingly, recent polls show a majority of Americans oppose overturning the decision.

But this binary option hides more than it reveals about public attitudes towards abortion. Few Americans believe that this practice should be legal under any circumstances, and even fewer think it should be outright banned. According to a recent survey by the Economist/YouGov, just 5% of Americans – including 9% of Republicans and 10% of conservatives – believe that women can never legally have abortions. For most Americans, circumstances are decisive.

Time is very important. A recent Yahoo/YouGov poll found that while 61% of Americans believe abortion is “generally legal” during the first trimester of pregnancy, that number drops to 32% for third trimesters. second trimester and 19% for the third trimester. to the right of what Roe allows. A Pew Research Center survey found that, without special circumstances, Americans oppose abortion by a margin of 2 to 1 after 24 weeks, when the fetus is old enough to survive.

If timing makes a difference in public reaction to abortion, so should its reasons. Several investigations carried out after the leaked draft Supreme Court decision reached essentially the same conclusion. A majority of Americans will allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening circumstances, and when there is evidence of serious birth defects. But the majority refuse to have an abortion for reasons such as economic constraints, not wanting more children, or not wanting to marry the father.

For most Americans, abortion raises profound questions about morality — and about the relationship between morality and the law. Pew found that while 47% think abortion is morally wrong in most or all cases, only 22% say abortion is illegal whenever it’s unethical. Nearly half of adults — including many who believe that human life begins at conception — think there are cases where abortion is morally wrong but should be allowed by law nonetheless. .

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Many Democrats believe that if the Supreme Court reviews Roe at the end of his current term, the backlash could change the dynamics of the midterm elections in their favor and there is evidence in favor of bogus. this theory. Most recently last November, according to a Yahoo/YouGov poll, only 4% of Democrats considered abortion their most important issue. Now that number has grown to 20% (even topping health care and climate change) and includes 22% of Democratic women as well as 27% of Liberal Democrats.

While Republicans are generally more concerned with abortion than Democrats, recent developments have changed this. Just 6% of Republican voters consider abortion their most important issue, and 28% of pro-choice voters say they will only support candidates who share their views on the issue. , compared with 21% for pro-life voters. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Democrats and liberals unite around a pro-choice stance rather than Republicans and conservatives around pro-life choice.

Developments at the state level could raise the possibility of abortion even further. Many states have so-called trigger laws, the bans going into effect immediately after the court’s decision. Others — including swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona — have pre-Roe abortion bans that can be enforced as soon as Roe falls.

While many Republican elected officials support overturning Roe because doing so would “return the problem to the states,” anti-segregation activists have signaled their opposition to the move. patchwork of diverse state statutes. Instead, they are pushing for a complete nationwide ban on abortion, which 69% of Americans oppose. Public discussion of this prospect will continue to excite Democrats and could force Republican candidates to choose between their base and appeal to voters in emerging states and counties. dispute.

On the other hand, 42% of Democrats and 54% of liberals agree with the proposal that “abortion should always be legal” and that “abortion should not be restricted,” a position that three-quarters of Americans reject. cancel. When activists turned the justified need for criminal justice reform into “Beat the police,” Democrats lost control of the issue. It could happen again.

For Democrats, shifting the focus of the midterm elections away from inflation, crime, and immigration to abortion and Republican extremism is unquestionable — if they can avoid the obstacle. party of abortion on demand.

The Journal’s Editorial Report: Democrats want to systematize Roe v. Wade, but they might overdo it. Image: AP / AFP / Getty Images Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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