Q&A Friday #23: If Roe v. Wade Were Overturned, Would Republicans Use The Federal Gov’t To Outlaw Abortion?

Question: “I have noticed that many Republicans are adopting the attitude of “it is a state’s right issue” concerning abortion (and as a pro-choice libertarian, I am slowly coming around to this idea). However, my chief concern is that Republicans dont’ REALLY believe this (if you view abortion as murder, how could you believe it is a state’s rights issue???), and that once Roe is overturned they will attempt to take it out of the state’s hands through a Constitutional Ammendment. Given our country’s history on leaving major divisive issues up to the states (see Slavery and The Civil War), I am dubious about the long term prospects of how this would work concerning abortion.

So the second part of my question is this: Do you think most Republicans truly believe abortion is a state’s rights issue, and if Roe is overturned, do you believe they will leave it at that?” — President_Friedman

Answer: Well, if the GOP could actually pull off a Constitutional Amendment now, it would supersede Roe v. Wade. But of course, Constitutional Amendments are extremely difficult to push through, so it’s not possible now and it seems extremely doubtful that it would be possible if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

As to whether you’d see a Federal law making abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade were struck down, I tend to think that’s unlikely. Not that some conservatives wouldn’t try to do it, they would, but I don’t think they would succeed.

On an issue as controversial as abortion, you can be certain that there would be a filibuster and it’s hard for me to see 60 Senators voting to ban abortion even if you had that many pro-life Senators. There have just been too many Republicans beating the, “It’s a states issue,” drum for too long for all of them to do a 180 at this point and so there would probably be a few hold-outs who would scuttle the whole thing.

That being said, you’ll notice that what I’m listing here are the practical reasons why there wouldn’t be a Federal law banning abortion. If you’re talking about what people believe when it gets right down to it, unless you’re talking about political junkies, the government is the government is the government to most people, Republican or Democrat. They’re not particularly interested in state’s right debates, they just want the “government” “to do something.”

That’s ultimately what would put pro-life Republicans who really do believe abortion is a state’s rights issue in a huge pickle. These Republicans up on Capitol Hill would have this mass of agitated social conservatives telling them: “Either you vote to make abortion illegal or you’re on the wrong side of the issue as far as we’re concerned,” they’d think real hard about the consequences of saying, “no,” and most of them would cave.

So to sum it all up, I think it’s unlikely we’d see a federal law banning abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned, but I do think that there would be a push for one.

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