Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:
The issue of abortion had been simmering on the back burner of the midterm election as the nation awaited the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After the egregious breach of trust and decorum when someone leaked the draft ruling, the issue may still be on the back burner, but it is boiling over.
While the leaked ruling is a draft and not the final version, it does indicate that the Supreme Court has decided to reverse and strongly reverse the terrible Roe v. Wade ruling in the same virtuous spirit as Brown v. Board of Education. Justice Samuel Alito’s draft is a masterpiece of legal reasoning written in a strident prose designed to firmly correct the court’s 50-year injustice.
When the Supreme Court issues its ruling, and assuming that it will be to reverse Roe, it will not make abortion illegal or legal in the United States. Such a ruling will simply divorce the federal courts from making that decision for anyone and restore the issue to the elected branches of state government to decide. Roe was a massive usurpation of rights and responsibilities left to states in our federal Constitution and hopefully Dobbs will return the issue to the appropriate public policy forum.
Several liberal states have already passed laws legalizing abortion up to the point of infanticide. Other states have been increasingly restricting abortions. In both cases, states have been acting to ensure that their state laws will reflect the will of the people should Roe ever be overturned.
In Wisconsin, attempts to change abortion laws for the better or the worse have failed to make it into law. Consequently, should the Dobbs decision reverse Roe, Wisconsin’s current abortion law passed in 1849 will be in effect. That law makes it a felony to conduct or assist in an abortion in all circumstances except in the case that the mother’s life is at risk. For those of us who ardently oppose killing babies, the Wisconsin law is ideal. In a politically divided state like Wisconsin, we are in the minority. Public opinion polls for years have shown that a majority of people support abortion very early in a pregnancy with steadily declining support for abortion as the pregnancy progresses with late-term abortions being opposed by a strong majority of people. Should Roe be overturned, abortion policy will no longer be a theoretical policy plank in a party platform and Wisconsin’s elected officials will be responsible for their positions. Earlier this year, the Republicans failed to advance a bill that would have revise Wisconsin’s abortion statute to make abortion legal up until the point that the baby’s heartbeat is detectable. The abortion abolitionists and the secretly pro-abortion wings of the Republican caucus united to bottle up the bill without a vote. It may be an untenable position for Republicans to hold in the long term in a politically divided state. For the sake of the babies, let us hope that they can hold it.
While abortion policy is critically important to the thousands of babies who are murdered in Wisconsin every year, it is not as powerful a political issue as those on either side of the issue would like to think it is. There is a sliver of the electorate for whom abortion is the most important, and sometimes only, issue that decides their vote. Polls and electoral results in Virginia and Ohio seem to indicate that the anti-abortion single-issue voters outnumber the pro-abortion single-issue voters by a smidge. But either way, these voters tend to be extremely reliable voters and abortion stances are already strongly divided along party lines. There are a few pro-abortion Republicans left, but there are almost no anti-abortion Democrats to be found anymore. In other words, these voters were already very likely to vote, and their votes were already baked into the political projections.
If anything, Democrats are desperately hoping that a vigorous debate about abortion will distract some voters from the fact that Democratic policies are ruining our country. Runaway inflation not seen since the early 1980s is destroying our quality of life and erasing the economic gains of the middle and lower classes. Gas prices are through the roof. There are shortages of necessities like baby formula. Rising housing prices and interest rates are robbing young families of the dream of home ownership at the same time as rent is rising. Criminals are gutting neighborhoods.
If Democrats are hoping that a reinvigorated debate about abortion will save them from an electoral correction for their disastrous policies, they are mistaken. At the end of the day, most people care far more about themselves than they do about tiny innocent unwanted babies, but that is why abortion exists in the first place.