Republicans Shouldn’t Be Scared of the Texas Abortion Law in 2022 | National Review

Republicans Shouldn’t Be Scared of the Texas Abortion Law in 2022 | National Review

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C, June 14, 2021 (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Dick Morris is out with what will likely be the conventional wisdom that Texas and the Supreme Court, by raising the possibility that abortion will be banned in many places, have given the Democrats a big gift in the next elections.

Obviously this is not a first-order or even second-order consideration about the law. On the merits of the Supreme Court’s decision, I agree with NR’s editors: The five justices in the majority did the right thing, and the failure of the justices in the minority to identify a plausible alternative course of action suggests how easy this decision would be in the absence of the political atmospherics around it. I also agree that the law is not the ideal of an anti-abortion law: It’s not what would or should have been written without a 50-year campaign of massive legal resistance to civil rights for unborn children. But we are where we are.

As for the politics: I’m not at all convinced Morris is right. But let’s give this case its due. The issue will fire up social liberals who might otherwise have been complacent during a midterm — when the party in the White House typically suffers losses because its base voters are complacent and the opposition party’s voters are angry. Voters who are ambivalent about abortion — voters whom pro-lifers can reach by concentrating on such sub-issues as late-term abortion — may be alarmed at the prospect of sweeping change. And while polling on this subject comes with big caveats, it is true that most voters favor Roe v. Wade (or what they think it is) and don’t want to see abortion banned altogether.

On the other hand: It’s pretty rare for the general rule of midterms to be overcome. The last time it happened was in 2002, when our country had recently suffered the worst attack on it in history and the incumbent president was more popular than he had been during his first months in office. So we might (at the least) be talking about Republicans’ seeing their gains being blunted rather than actual net losses. We are very likely also going to see more than a year of Democratic politicians, activist groups, and much of the press yelling that Roe is already dead — while abortion remains legal in most places, this law isn’t enforced (since it cannot be), pro-abortion Democrats occupy the White House, back alleys don’t come back, and the only people who wear those red outfits are people who choose it. That probably works out better for pro-lifers than a scenario where the Court strikes down Roe and Casey next summer without this prelude. Sustaining a fever pitch about coat-hangers and theocracy for more than a year is going to be a challenge.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.