Are our women safe now?

After all the pre-election hysterics about Bush single-handedly overturning Roe vs Wade and selling millions of women into slavery, I have a question:

All the pundits are now saying that whoever ends up predident will have to play very close to the middle. Does this mean that Bush will have to keep his hands off the abortion issue entirely? Will it impact the choices for new SC justices? Was it all hype?

Realisticly (realistically?), what can Bush get away with at this point?

Did Bushes father try to overturn Roe vs wade?

As regards Roe vs Wade I think Bush will definately have to keep his hands off. Firstly, I doubt he will be able to do it successfully without seriously damaging himself and the republican parties image. Secondly I don’t really think it will be high on his list of priorities. I mean, there are plenty of other political problems with less political peril.

Put it this way, if he plays it smart he’ll leave it alone. If he plays it dumb, Cheney will be smart and persuade him to drop it. Either way I think R vs W will stay.

My understanding is that Bush favors former Senator Ashcroft for a Supreme Court seat. Notwithstanding his opposition to Roe v. Wade, his personal relationships in the Senate could conceivably cause him to sail through.

Currently, we are 2 votes away from overturning Roe v. Wade. Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas are the ones against abortion rights, so if they retire, not much would change. Notable supporters of Roe v. Wade who could conceivably retire for health reasons include Ginsberg and Stevens.

Bush can pass laws curbing abortion access (by banning funds for certain international agencies, regulating third trimester abortion) but a frontal assault on abortion rights awaits a substantial change in Supreme Court membership.

Of course if the court shifted 2 seats in an activist conservative direction, I suspect that we would have a lot more on our plate than Roe v. Wade, important as that issue is.


Since when does the Supreme Court simply overturn past decisions? Unless a case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court they won’t have a chance to rule on the Constitutionality of Roe V. Wade. I find that a pretty unlikely event.


What do international agencies have to do with rights within our borders? And don’t some states already restrict abortions re: how far along the pregnancy is?


It’s an election issue, not a real one.

Ah…I don’t think it’s so unlikely…There have been several abortion-related cases brought up to the Supreme Court over the last several years. Scalia and Thomas (and maybe Rehnquist too?) have made it very clear that they are just chomping at the bit to overturn Roe v. Wade. Just read Scalia’s opinions…It ain’t any big secret. Admittedly, Kennedy and O’Connor have shown an unwillingness to go that far, although they have often voted on the side to weaken its applicability quite a bit.

MGibson asks:
Since when does the Supreme Court simply overturn past decisions?

Thanks for the response.

If I’m correct you’ve put your finger one of the key fault lines in the current Supreme Court. There are (IMHO) perhaps 5 conservatives: Scalia, Rehnquist, Kennedy,
O’Connor, and Thomas. (We’ll call Souter a moderate). Three of them are “radical conservatives”, meaning they’re willing to overturn precedent.

A good example is abortion:
Here’s Scalia in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989):

“It thus appears that the mansion of constitutionalized abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe vs. Wade, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb, and never entirely brought down, no matter how wrong it may be … We should decide now, and not insist that we be run into a corner before we grudgingly yield up our judgment.”

The man has a way with words. O’Connor’s response was, IIRC, “There will be a time to consider Roe, and consider it well”.

Blackmun spoke for the more liberal members when he wrote: “I fear for the future. While for today, at least, the law of abortion stands undisturbed, the signs are very evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.” The ruling, he said, “is filled with winks, and nods, and knowing glances to those who would do away with Roe explicitly.”

Three years later, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), the central core of Roe was upheld by 5 Judges: O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Blackmun and Stevens. (Blackmun has since retired.) The opinion of the first three relied heavily on stare decisis, or respect for precedent.

Rehnquist, White (since retired), Scalia and Thomas dissented, arguing that Roe had no Constitutional basis and ought to be overturned.

Assuming that the radical three don’t become the fearsome five, I expect the abortion debate to revolve around waiting periods, funding for Planned Parenthood (not a SCOTUS issue, but it’s something that ebbs and flows depending on who is in the white house or in control of Congress), regulation of partial birth abortion, gag rules, etc. Admittedly, I’m not really up on the status of these varying restrictions; some of them may very well have been previously resolved (eg the gag rule?).

When I mentioned third trimester abortions, I was thinking about proposed restrictions on the so-called, “Partial birth abortion method.”

*Originally posted by jshore *

Which of these challenged Roe V. Wade?


The most that could happen under Bush is that he would appoint Justices that would strictly interpret the constitution as he has always said he would. He would have to appoint quite a few as only 3 justices have seemed to express a willingness to overturn RvW and one of those Justices, Rehnquist, is amoung the older Justices. If he was to do this then a pro-life state legislature would pass an anti-abortion law and a pro-abortion group would then challenge it. The suit would wind its way through the system until it reached the Supreme Court who could use it to overturn RvW. If this happened abortion would only be illegal in the state that passed the original law. Other states would be free to restrict abortions, however most would not. Just as most states did not outlaw abortions before RvW most would not do so after unless the political culture changes. If all of this happened in less than 8 years and Bush gets re-elected he could then try to get a federal law passed. The only way this would pass is if the culture changes and is highly unlikely in my view.

Right, it’s close on the SC now, I know, we’ve been hashing over that for MONTHS already.

But given the clear ambivalence of the American public, how likely is it that a justice with a clear anti-RvV leaning can actually get appointed?

I’d say not very. The problem is that there’d be somewhat of a backlash against the Republicans in the next election, and any tipping of the scales means no more Bush in office. Moderate Republicans in Congress would want to be vary careful about this one…

*Originally posted by ren *

Just what the heck are you talking about? Selling women into slavery? Now I’ve heard it all. I believe if you have unprotected sex you have responsibilities. I wouldn’t call that slavery I would call that being responsible.

And you forgot about the babies safety. I guess they don’t have any because he/she is going to get ripped & pulled out of the womb with salad forks before they get to see their first sunset.


Thanks, Bill, this thread is not about the ethics of abortion. This thread is about all the “vote for Gore or Bush will overturn Roe V Wade” hysterics.

And that OP contained a charaterization of pre-election hysteria using hyperbole:


hys·ter·i·a (h-str-, -stîr-) n.

Excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic.


hy·per·bo·le (h-pûrb-l) n.

A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.

I found this website to contain a useful summary of abortion cases, the latest one argued in 1992.

According to the author of the website, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), “…may represent the closest Roe v. Wade has ever come to being overturned.”

Point taken, but during confirmation hearings I suspect any Republican nominees would emphasize that they can’t comment on specific cases that may come before the court. Then they would rehash both sides of a hypothetical case and stress that they would carefully consider both sides before making a decision. Well and good, but it’s also a convenient (if not foolproof) evasive maneuver that Justice Kennedy (to take one example) used to great effect.

That said, the Justice Committee is full of experienced trial lawyers, so the scope for obfuscation is not boundless.

At any rate, I’m not sure that popular opinion is that different than it was in 1986 or 1991 when Scalia and Thomas were confirmed by the Senate.

In the interests of speaking out of both sides of my mouth, I should note that IMO the SCOTUS is neither particularly close nor far from overturning Roe v. Wade. I’d say we’re 2 SC votes away.

Nor is the overturning of Roe v. Wade TEOTWAWKI: as Puddle pointed out above, certain larger states would protect abortion access while others would presumably outlaw it.

I doubt whether Congress would outlaw abortion directly, although I would expect to see votes on the matter should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

ren said:

I’d say it’s fairly likely, actually. You don’t think Bush is going to nominate a pro-choice candidate for the SC, do you? If not, then he’s going to nominate a pro-life candidate. So the Senate will have a choice: Either they approve Bush’s pro-life candidate, or they keep turning him down until he comes up with a pro-choice candidate.

I don’t think the latter is going to happen.

Well, first I must say that there have been fewer Supreme Court cases on abortion recently than I realized. [I guess time flies!] According to this link, the Stenberg v. Carhart ruling decided this past June was “the first major abortion case to come before the Supreme Court since the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey which reaffirmed the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision”.

However, it should be noted that if one has any tendency to believe that justices like Rehnquist and Scalia are willing to consider Casey (and thus Roe v. Wade) to be settled case law, I direct your attention to their dissents in Stenhert v. Carhart. (Click on the link to that case in the above link.) There seems little doubt that they are just itching to overturn it. And, since the Supreme Court exercises considerable discretion in deciding which cases they take on, I assume that if we get a couple more anti-Roe v. Wade justices on the court, they may decide to take an abortion case for the explicit purpose of revisiting this again.

Having said that, I do agree with those on the other side who point out that overturning Roe v. Wade won’t make abortion illegal. It will simply allow individual states to do so. Probably, most states will not…But, some will.

Should have had Thomas’ name in there too, as the first paragraph of his dissent (joined by Scalia and Rehnquist) illustrates: