Liberals: Is it time to "Let go of Roe"?

I’m not sure if this is a survey or a debate…but because of the nature of the topic, I’ll start in GD :wink:

Apparently a number of pro choice folks think that “it’s time to let Roe go”.

The argument is laid out here and here.

(Note that some liberal folks like William Saletan think that pro lifers might have “won” the abortion debate, but will have a tough time with issues like IVF).


I don’t buy it. Roe is a sacred cow for too many movers and shakers and contributors to the Democratic party base. I have a hard time believing that very many liberals believe that it’s time to “let go of Roe.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I self identify as pro life, and I DO think that while pro life folks have not “won” the debate, I think that public opinion has begun to shift away from full support of Roe in recent years…especially on peripheral issues surrounding Roe (parental/sposal notification, waiting period etc).

I think that measuring public opinion on the issue is a tricky matter (in large part influenced by how surverys are worded or how the media phrases the debate), but I suspect (but can’t offer cites :wink: )that a strong support of Roe is more of a net loss for politicians on a national level.

So…If you’re liberal:

  1. Do YOU personally think it’s time to “let go of Roe”

  2. Regardless of how you answered #1, do you think a significant number of liberals feel that it’s time to “let go of Roe”?

Isn’t the country pretty much split down the middle about abortion? What would the Democrats gain by abadoning one of their core positions if that position is pretty mainstream? I honestly didn’t see an argument in those two articles besides them quoting another person saying that Roe is harming the party without saying how it is.

Are you asking me that question as a “Liberal” or as a “Democrat.” This might skew your answers.

I would like to see our politicians [del]poison the well[/del] offer a compromise by which abortion rights are phased out at the same rate that contraceptive research & development, contraceptive-centric sex education in our schools, and a plummetting of the abortion rate for women under 30 to a rate comparable to that for women 30-45 takes place.

I don’t think the RTL:movement’s leaders, as a general rule, give the proverbial rat’s ass about fetuses per se, and that their real concern is and always has been sexual freedom and reproductive control.

The pro-choice movement made a long protracted stupid mistake of trying to coast through the 80s and 90s saying that abortion should remain legal because it’s legal, that it should remainj a woman’s right because it’s a woman’s right. What they should have done is get behind some pregnant 16 year old who wanted to have her baby but whose parents or guardians wanted to force her to abort, and use that scenario / case to establish that pregnant girls get to make the decision, not their parents. And they should have made a debate of it and answered the RTL rhetoric a lot more than they did.

I think that saying that the country is “split down the middle” is a bit simplistic
(again…William Saletan is a pro choice liberal…this is not some pro life or conservative dancing on the grave of NARAL)

I think that’s why NARAL is shaping their message to include a new focus on “responsibility”. I have a hard time believing that they would be bothering to do that unless they thought that they needed a more “mainstream” message.

Good question. I guess either one.

The first article framed the debate around “liberals”, the Atlantic bit framed it around “Democrats”.

Split down the middle, or midly more in the pro-life camp? Why do you suppose that the focus is so much on the SCOTUS as opposed to Congress? If the country was more in favor of abortion than against it, wouldn’t Congress be able to legislate a solution? And if we’re split down the middle, as you say, why should the pro-abortion side win?

I say this as someone who is firmly in favor of abortion on demand, but who doens’t necessarily see a right to said abortion in the constution.

It does appear that poll after poll shows more Americans in favor of keeping aboriont, at least in the 1st trimester, legal. But it puzzles me why, if this is true, Congress can’t be counted on to take care of this issue.


I don’t see how that poll contradicts that the country is pretty split. 48% came down on the basic pro-choice side and 50% came down on the basic pro-life side.

The pro-abortion side is concerned about the SCOTUS becuase abortion is a states issue, although with the medical marijuana ruling what can’t Congress legislate but I digress, and the sides aren’t randomly distributed around the country. If Roe was struck down many states would ban abortion which is what the pro-abortion people are opposed to. Right now the battle is over Roe becuase it is the “line in the sand” so to speak. If that line changes in the future to individual states then the battle will shift to the legislature.

As to why the pro-abortion side should win is becuase there is no legal justification for a fetus to be considered a citizen or a person. With no person or citizen to protect the states have no legal justification for banning abortion.

Do you think you have a constitutional right to have a generic medical proceedure?

Its becuase Congress isn’t the issue, although it would be interesting to see what would happen. Would the legality of abortion flip flop when the party in power changed?

In the light of Sandra Day O’Connor stepping down and a certain battle over a replacement nominee who will be anti-abortion rights, the more pressing political question (as opposed to “letting Roe go”) is: are anti-abortion rights advocates (largely, but far from exclusively conservative) willing to sacrifice their political gains by creating a Supreme Court willing to overturn Roe?

As to beagledave’s OP, “letting go of Roe” is not a serious consideration for pro-abortion rights people. Entertaining some compromise over parental notification and some late-term abortion procedures might be a different story, even if the conviction exists that the true believer/fanatical anti-abortion rights advocate will never settle for anything less than a complete abortion ban.

It is more than simplistic, it is inaccurate.

Polls for many years have demonstrated that a most Americans want to keep abortion legal. Major recent surveys show that support continues.


Americans’ basic support for abortion rights remains solid, even if an element of that support would back some increased restrictions (i.e parental notification). It is wishful thinking on the other side to believe otherwise, or to contemplate that any significant numbers of “liberals” or “Democrats” want to dump Roe.

Jackmannii, extreme centrist independent.

As has been pointed out already, the pro-choice position is a Democratic mainstay. Abandoning it would lose one of the Democratic Party’s core constituencies. Don’t hold yer breath.

We liberals literally cannot lose the abortion debate. All that is necessary to promulgate a great wave of laws guaranteeing women the right to an abortion in this country (absent a Supreme Court willing to do so, which is I suspect the occasion for this thread) is for the anti-abortion crew to succeed. Soon there will be some women dying in back-alley abortions when they can’t get legal ones, a great many more women forced to bear babies they in no way wish to carry, and many, many middle class women forced to travel overseas, etc., to get abortions.

This is the situation that led to the rise of the abortion option, it won’t go away because the anti-choice crew wants it to, especially since so many anti-choice types also oppose birth control and sex education. They will sow the seeds of their own destruction, and women will get the option to have abortions after much needless suffering and some needless deaths. All that we who support choice have been trying to do is to prevent all that suffering and death.

Yes, I know, you anti-choice types think all abortions are murder. But there will be plenty of very unhappy adult women married to adult men (voters!) if abortion is made illegal, and fetuses don’t vote.

All your victories can only be temporary, until we reach the point where abortions are safe, legal and rare, at which point you will not have any victories on the abortion issue.

I’m looking at the politics of the issue. Only 22% of the folks in the poll agree with the folks most fervently in the unregulated pro choice camp (be they politicians or folks like NARAL)

If you break down the peripheral issues, for example. Over 70% of folks SUPPORT the very kinds of restrictions like parental/spousal notification or waiting periods that NARAL have traditionally been very vocal about eliminating. Most foks oppose D&E abortions (referred to politically by some pro life folks as as “partial birth abortion”),2933,154805,00.html

IOW if you ask folks if Roe should be flat out overturned, you might get a split (or even a pro choice edge to say no it should not be flat out overturned).

However, if you break down the opinions though…significant numbers of those who might not want to flat out overturn Roe, DO want to heaviily regulate it OR only permit it in certain circumstances (for example, the “hard cases” like rape, incest or life of mother). THAT’s why I called your earlier assessment “simplistic”…especially in terms of the political landscape. It’s more complex than that.

As I outlined earlier (and as your own polls suggest), that’s a simplistic view of American’s attitudes. Less than a quarter of Americans want completely unfettered access to abortion.

I DO agree that more Americans would vote NO than YES if they had a chance on whether to “overturn Roe”, but the issue is more complex than that. If so many Americans were of a similar mind as NARAL…it’s amazing that any pro life folks get elected at the national level :wink:

Well like I said in the OP, I disagree with the assertion that significant numbers of liberals (or Democrats) want to “let go of Roe”.

I don’t see anyone yet agreeing with those authors.

I don’t self identify as a Republican (or a conservative), but I think that strategists for the GOP would be pleased that the Dems don’t want to let go of Roe… :wink:

It’s not amazing at all. Anti-choice advocates have long used Roe v. Wade to energize political activism among the socially conservative. That’s how you get candidates elected.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, you lose much of that energy. Guess who gets it?

No, I think it’s much too important. Some issues are worth fighting for even if (in theory) it may not be politically expedient.

I’ve never met or spoken to one who did. Strategists and pollsters, and some more centrist Democrats perhaps, may feel differently.

What part of this (cited NBC/Wall St. Journal poll, 5/05) do you not understand?:

"NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff ®. May 12-16, 2005. N=1,005 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

"Which of the following best represents your views about abortion?

The choice on abortion should be left up to the woman and her doctor - 55%"

That’s most Americans supporting “completely unfettered access”.
Again, I suspect the number of liberals/Democrats seriously contemplating dumping Roe, is dwarfed by the numbers of conservatives/Republicans who have or soon will be realizing the potentially disastrous political repercussions of overturning Roe.

It’s one thing to pump up your anti-abortion rights supporters with idle talk, quite another to actually wake up the sleeping tiger among pro-abortion rights voters.

I don’t think that the majority of Americans are pro-abortion.

I think the majority are pro-CHOICE. They want the options–that is all.
I doubt highly that the Dems will ever let Roe go–and I think that moderate Reps (I think there may be a few around still, but we have to beat the bushes to find 'em–oops! Bad pun!) will, if anything come out in support of Roe–the conservative RR has the GOP by the privates right now–but I already see cracks in the foundation. Schiavo case had alot to do with it–Americans want Freedom of Choice–at either end of life.

Just my 2 cents.

While I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, I have to take exception to this. I’m as strongly in favor of Roe as anyone, but I’ve spent time talking to Right-to-Lifers and sincerely believe that they feel that every potential life should be allowed. I disagree with them, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.


I said their leaders. I agree with you about the legitimacy of the sentiments of the rank and file. (And some of their leaders as well. I specified most of their leaders.)