Putting the abortion genie back in its bottle

A couple of years ago, I started thinking that the rise of RU486 would eventually mean that outlawing abortion would be as effective as outlawing speeding.

Right now, there are hazards and difficulties in getting a surgical abortion: cost, travel, lunatics with guns and bombs, protestors, mandatory counseling, etc. The number of abortion clinics and providers has been steadily decreasing, making the travel and availability issue even more significant.

RU486 eliminates many of these problems by allowing women to buy the drug discreetly and individually rather than having to go to a known location. There are websites specifically created to facilitate the availability of RU486, especially to countries where abortion services are currently illegal (e.g. http://www.womenonweb.org/ ) Use of RU486 is rising even as abortion numbers are falling. The fall could be due to better use and better availability of birth control, or could be do to those falling numbers of clinics. More doctors now are offering RU486 from their regular practices instead of requiring patients to go for surgical abortion at clinics.

So some foundations are already laid for discreet access to abortions independent of abortion clinics. And this is in an atmosphere of legal (though condemned) abortion.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of illegal back-alley abortion. RU486 is much safer. I’ve seen a variety of statistics on the necessarily followup care as compared to a surgical abortion, from stats suggesting that RU486 is much more likely to have side effects (especially incomplete abortion) to those that suggest it’s right in line with surgical abortion, which is a very safe operation.

I’ve found 23 states with explicit laws making abortion illegal in the event of Roe being overturned. I didn’t spend all that long looking, though.
Okay, that’s some background, so:

wavy lines of time travel

**McCain gets elected. Roe is overturned. State laws outlawing abortion are back in force.

Now what?**

Note: I’m not at all interested in talking about the morality of abortion. If that’s your only interest, shoo to your own thread.

My thoughts: Initially, abortions would fall. There would be a spike in states where they are legal but overall numbers would fall.

I think that period would be very brief as organizations mobilize to provide RU486 in states where abortions are illegal. Official numbers would stay low, but real numbers would begin to creep up inexorably until they are somewhere in the vicinity of current numbers. As the availability of the drug grew, women who would not have opted for surgical abortion today because of the difficulties would find medical abortion more private and more convenient for them, and much safer than illegal surgical abortions might be.

Thoughts? I’m contemplating mostly the abortion-centric outcomes and not the political outcomes, but those are welcome in this thread, too. Would it be a dangerous move for the Republican party, for example?

Politically it would be a horrible move for the Republican Party. It would eliminate a key issue they use to mobilize voters, and to raise money. It would also act as a great mobilizer to the Democrats - large numbers of moderate, fiscal Republicans would shift their votes as a response, I would imagine.

However, I do believe that many if not most of those who oppose abortion rights are sincere enough to be willing to take the political loss that might come from it. People like Rove, on the other hand…

I used to think so as well. Now I’m not so sure. How mobilized would Democrats be then in comparison to how they are now? Is losing the right so much more mobilizing than having the right threatened?

I think it is much more threatening. I am not sure people in much of the country believe the threat is that imminent.

But the biggest shift over would be amongst moderate voters - people who can vote Republican now because they don’t think abortion is going to be banned, because they support the GOP on other issues, because they aren’t really exposed to the consequences of selling the soul of the party to the religious crackpots… those people will be voting Democrat once states start banning abortions.

And don’t forget, in an attempt to maintain the support of the anti-choice voters, the GOP will have to pick up on some other “morality” issue. And my guess is that would be contraception. People might tolerate having to drive their daughter to the next door state to get an abortion. They are going to get seriously scared if their doctor cannot prescribe them the pill.

In an attempt to get abortion made legal again everywhere, or voting at that point in an abortion-neutral way, as if the issue didn’t exist?

Do you really want to go back were. It was an ugly time and it would happen again if abortion was outlawed.

Fiction. Hyperbole. My Con Law professor, an attorney in his own right, believes that Roe couldn’t be any more solid if it were enshrined in the Constitution. I agree with him. The SCOTUS has had many opportunities to overturn it, including Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and they have shown no inclination to do so. It’s done. While I disagree with abortion on philosophical grounds, I don’t think Roe should be overturned, and that is largely the consensus in the US. SCOTUS, whatever else its faults, knows better than to pull another Dred Scott and call their credibility into question with such a monstrous flip-flop.

I don’t see why this is something that worries you.

One other thing: if the Republicans ever manage to get the SCOTUS to overturn Roe they are done as a party nationally, and for all time. They have to know that. I can therefore conclude that it’s all posturing.

I think it could become a realignment issue - while people might shift to relegalize abortion, I think they would stay shifted for a long time.

I would predict not only a greater number of medical abortions, but a lot more of my own personal phone ringing with women begging me for herbal abortifacients. (As it is, I get about 3-6 calls a year, which I direct straight to Planned Parenthood.) I’m not sure, honestly, what I would do in such a case (assuming they can’t/won’t get RU-486). Herbal abortions are nasty, dangerous, horrible things that basically make you so sick that you lose the baby, and it’s really really hard to judge the dosage to just sick enough and not death. (Let me clarify - it’s not really that hard in theory, but most of this knowledge has, as far as I know, been lost with the rise of allopathic medicine. It’s possible some Cherokee medicine man out there still knows it, but whether or not he’ll share that with the rest of us is unknown.)

But if the alternative was back alley surgical abortions or being forced to carry an unwanted fetus? I might go ahead and do it anyhow. Welcome back to the Dark Ages, ladies! :frowning:

Iraq was a disaster too, and a predictable one. They invaded anyway. The lesson being that true believers often do stupid things just because they believe their own rhetoric. The Republican leaders who are just using abortion as a vote getting tool probably won’t actually try to ban it, just for the reason you mention. But the true believers will if they can, and hang the consequences.

I do not think that taking away abortion rights in and of itself will really seriously drive moderates to the Democratic Party in droves. That will happen when the same people start moving in seriously against birth control.

I’ve said before that if Roe were overturned, the anti-abortion crowd would discover that nearly every law they put up against abortion would fail–in every state. We would see a split between the radicalized pro-life who object to even “health of the mother” or rape exemptions, & the other 80%+ of the country.

Here’s how Roe gets overturned:

For Roe and stare decisis

Against Roe
Roberts ??

If Stevens is replaced by a Scalia clone, then the swing vote becomes Chief Justice Roberts. I honestly don’t know which way he would vote: those more informed than I might hazard a guess.

If Ginsberg and Stevens are replaced by Palin, I can’t see how Roe would stand.

I suppose it is for you to decide, but Alito and Roberts said under oath that they would not reverse Roe, and I believe them. Scalia and Thomas are sure bets, but there’s no way that there are three more votes on the court to overturn, not even if McCain gets elected. Ginsberg will go, Stevens might but he is in remarkably good health for his age, and there’s nobody left after that. That’s not even to mention what I said above.

I’ll tell you what: even though I disagree with abortion, there are two things that I am certain of: there is a God, and I’m not Him. It’s not my place to judge. If Roe is overturned, I’ll man the ramparts with you. Your trip to Hell is up to God, as is mine, but in the meantime I have to do the right thing, no matter what you might read in this Pit thread. Besides, I’ve already got a window seat and I need the company.

I poked around on the web, and it seems that Roberts thinks that Roe is, “settled as precident”. I’m not so sure about Alito. He chose softer language than Roberts did during his confirmation hearings, though he wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to overturn Roe.

Anyway, move Roberts over to my “Stare decisis” column and at the very least put 2 question marks next to Alito. (Thanks for the kind words, btw.)

Think nothing of it. In spite of my well-known opinions on the subject I am a reasonable man, and while I will answer for my sins eventually it will not be at the expense of women who feel as though they are backed into a corner with no escape from it. That would be despicable.

Incidentally, forgive me for my Catholicism. You can take the Catholic out of church, but you can’t take 10 1/2 years of Catholic school out of the man.

I think all you will see when Roe is overturned is the focus change to the state legislators and huge battles in every state where abortion is permitted. Also conservative resources will be redirected to banning contraception which is on their list after abortion.

From a purely practical point of view, one problem with the day-after pills is the same as the problem with the Pill or with condoms:

the “it won’t happen to me!” view, aka the “why should I wear a condom, I’m not going to get pregnant and anyway she should be on the Pill,” aka “bah it was only once so of course I won’t get pregnant”, aka people won’t use it unless they’re thinking about the consequences of sex. If they haven’t used a condom (which protects against other things as well), why would they be thoughtful enough to buy that pill?

Also, if abortion is outlawed, why keep day-after pills? They’re considered by many anti-abortionists as a DIY abortion.

They are trying that now by getting Pharmacists to refuse to carry birth control pills such as the morning after pill because they say there “might” be a conception.

The fundies got a lot of Catholics to join them because of the Church’s stand on Abortion and Birth control as some thing unnatural, even though they fight to keep tubes in a person who wants a right to die (with out living as a vegetable and straining the living family’s bank account) is also unnatural as well as surgery etc…


I feel sorry for your law professor. Any decision so polarized by politics and relying on a 5-4 vote is a long way from solid.