Tuesday, March 07, 2006

South Dakota Outlaws Abortion

Pro-choice Republicans nationwide should be unhappy today, as the South Dakota legislature recently passed a bill that not only restricts the right of a woman to choose, but almost certainly spells an election year issue for the Democrats to exploit.

Assume that anti-abortionists have the necessary five votes on the court necessary to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This coalition would include Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy. Their decision would probably delegate the right to legalize abortion to the states. Conservative states would most likely outlaw abortion, while liberal ones would keep it legal. However, this would not drastically change the current status of abortion throughout the country. In fiercely anti-abortion states, there is already limited access to abortion. In South Dakota, the only abortion clinic in question was one provided by Planned Parenthood. Similarly, in Mississippi, where abortion has been heavily regulated since Roe, there is also only one abortion clinic.

Women in need of abortions in such states are usually forced to go to more urban areas to receive them, which often means travelling far out of state. Essentially, a wealthy Mississippi woman seeking an abortion is much more likely to get one than a poor woman in the same situation.

In contrast, states like New Jersey will never outlaw abortion. Democrats and many Republicans campaign as pro-choice, and if the legislature is given the power to outlaw abortion, pro-life candidates will simply lose to pro-choice ones.

Ultimately, this is not an issue that can benefit the Republicans. Republicans cannot hope to win in swing states like Pennsylvania, for national or state office, if the GOP is associated with making abortion permenantly illegal. This puts Republicans who don't feel strongly about the issue in an awkward, defensive position, as polls indicate that the public is strongly opposed to the total barring of abortion.


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