The Worst-Case Scenario

Okay, thanks to some despicable behavior by the self-styled “moralists,” and millions of Koch brother dollars, Neil Gorsuch is now the newest Supreme Court Justice. So–aside from occupying Merrick Garland’s seat and a worrisome tendency to favor the arguments of corporate and “religious” litigants– what is the worst thing that can happen?

He manages to get Roe v. Wade overturned.

What would happen then?

Several red states would immediately pass laws making abortion illegal, something the Constitution currently prevents. Other states, however, would leave the decision where it belongs– with the woman, her family and her doctor. Women living in states prohibiting abortion– those who could afford it– would travel to states where it remained legal, and would have their abortions there. Others would go back to the remedies available in the “good old days”–coat hangers and dangerous “potions”– and many of them would die or become sterile.

Hopefully, there would be groups formed to raise money to cover the costs of poor women’s travel to states where abortion remained legal. We might expect the war on Planned Parenthood to abate somewhat–or at least devolve to the states– since the national anti-choice movement wouldn’t have Roe to kick around any more.

The political tsunami, however, would be the most interesting consequence of such a decision.

Survey research confirms that substantial majorities of Americans do not want to see Roe overturned. They may or may not support a woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy, but they are appropriately leery of allowing government to dictate that decision. It is only a rabid anti-choice constituency that has maintained the political potency of reproductive choice as an issue. (I have a sneaking suspicion that most of these folks believe overturning Roe would end abortion in the U.S. It wouldn’t–it would simply leave the issue up to the states.)

Research suggests that anti-choice citizens are far more likely to be single-issue voters than pro-choice Americans. But that could change once a right that has been taken for granted is revoked. Pro-choice voters–especially women, who are already more likely to vote Democratic– would be more than irate; they would blame the GOP for the loss of reproductive liberty, and would be very likely to vote in even greater numbers against a party that so vividly demonstrated its contempt for women’s right to self-determination.

Anyone who participated in the Women’s March on Washington–in the nation’s capital, or in any of the multitude of other venues–and looked out over the sea of “pussy hats,” saw the signs being carried and heard the passionate speeches being made–understands the extent of the fury that would be unleashed by a Supreme Court  retreat from Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice activists have been a (generally marginal albeit important) asset to theocratic Republican candidates, but the pro-choice legions that would erupt after such a Court decision would create political blowback of massive proportions.

The GOP has used the issue of abortion to turn out a relatively small but very intense constituency in election after election.

If Roe is gone, the national GOP will no longer be able to rely on the issue of abortion to generate turnout, or to obscure or outweigh the party’s retrograde positions on other issues. If decisions about the legality of abortion devolve to the state level, the passions will also devolve. Some states will respect women’s right to autonomy, some will not. But in the absence of Roe v. Wade, abortion would lose its potency as a national right-wing wedge issue.

And Democrats would solidify their position as the party protecting and promoting women’s rights.

Republicans should be careful what they wish for.


  1. I think that might be overly optimistic. The supreme court upheld an individuals right to bear arms. You would think that would be job done for the NRA, but it wasn’t. Rhetoric about men in black coming to take away your guns only intensified – it’s a pitch that works, so why change it?

    I suspect it would be similar if Roe was removed. You’d only have to change the slogan from ending Roe to preventing Roe.

  2. We now have a fully operational Rhetorical United States government, sans vital portions of the Constitution and some Amendments. Gorsuch’s response regarding HIS VIEW on Roe vs. Wade (and the Equal Marriage Amendment) was…”It is the law.” That is not a view, that is a statement of fact which may or may not be changed now that Gorsuch is officially a member of SCOTUS.

    Another bit of governmental rhetoric from the pursed lips of our pseudo president; “We will not go into Syria.” We are already IN Syria and it wasn’t rhetorical bombing of that country by our own heavily armed U.S. Navy battleships which endangered our U.S. troops…those were real bombs which accomplished nothing. A $29 million fireworks display causing our own troops to abandon their base to save their lives from our own troops.

    Why would the current members of SCOTUS overturn Roe vs. Wade and other civil and human rights protected by the Constitution and SOME of the Amendments? Rhetoric reigns today and it changes sometimes between morning and afternoon when questioning Trump or watching Spicer’s daily press conferences. McConnell refused to follow Constitutional law to hold the Senate hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination then changed Senate rules AFTER the vote to appoint Gorsuch. This will become the rhetoric (and Senatorial procedures) of tomorrow and ending Roe vs. Wade (or the Equal Marriage Amendment) will be inconsequential matters for SCOTUS to repeal – inconsequential to them but not to the families who will be burdened by their decisions.

    My daughter is alive because she could get a theraputic abortion 38 years ago after the fetus died at two months, not discovered till five months and was a mass of infected tissue which had severely infected her. My 24 year old granddaughter died 9 years ago of seizures at five months pregant because she opted to try to carry her baby to term knowing it increased the the chances of her death from her possibly fatal seizure disorder. But; it was HER choice, not a political issue or decision. We will never know how many young women have suffered the consequences of Pence’s anti-abortion law here, which he fully intends to take to the national level – that means Gorsuch and SCOTUS intervention.

  3. I hope Sheila is right, but like Dirk, I wonder if abortion would ever lose its political mojo.

  4. I agree with Dirk on this one. They will just adjust the rhetoric.

    Also, let’s not forget that the gop has been successful at convincing their voters that their taxes are too high because they are supporting those “lazy” poor people who refuse to get a job. We all know how easy it is to get a job and especially a job that pays a living wage.

    Sadly, the gop voters choose to believe all of this crap and refuse to accept the truth of who the welfare queens really are – corporations.

  5. You’re too optimistic, Dr. Kennedy. There are plenty of issues for the Fundamentalists to rally around.
    1. Gay marriage, and the banning of all legal contracts by gay people.
    2. Adoption of children by gay parents.
    3. Availability of birth control drugs and tools.
    4. Legality of non-Christian faiths,
    5. Possibly a new era of Prohibition
    6. etc., etc.
    Fundamentalism never disappears :: it only pauses to take a breath every few generations.

  6. About half of the people should care but don’t. The second half is generally leaving the first half to struggle with the issue or saving their wire coat hangers for anticipated greater demand. Of the first half a good many are mired in ancient prohibitions. It’s an impossible mélange. I just finished filing my income tax(s). I deliberately overpaid. My country needs help. I know, in Indiana I’m happily out of the mainstream. They’re coming to get me. ♪♫

  7. Stephen F. Smith, your statement should be the watchword for reason-able citizens. May 4, some will celebrate National Day of Prayer. Others will celebrate National Day of Reason. Which group will best represent the fundamentals of the Founding Fathers. The first was inserted in 1952 in 36 U.S.C 119. Have you seen Ron Reagan’s tv ad for Freedom From Religion Foundation? May the FFRF prosper.

  8. Nobody is better at serving up bogeymen for the voters than the Republicans. They will find what scares the American voter the most and that will become the next target of their rage.

    Making abortion illegal does not stop abortions. It stops safe abortions.

  9. Wayne; many people do not understand the Freedom From Religion Foundation does not mean to end people practicing their chosen religion. Like other organizations (Americans United, American Humanist Association, et al, and Atheism) they only seek to keep religion where it belongs…which is out of our government and public education. Unlike Pence who tries to force his religion on others by enacting laws, they are not trying to deprive people from practicing religion. Many people in this country need the basics explained in detail.

  10. This is far too optimistic. What is far more likely is that Congress, after screaming for years that abortion should be a state issue, will pass a federal law outlawing abortion. Second, even if that fails, the states which have outlawed abortion will make it a crime to leave the state, or to assist another in leaving the state, for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.

  11. Overturning Roe would be the beginning. Red states would make abortions illegal, but would demand the government follow suit so abortion is outlawed in the United States. Then kristian bible teachings would be taught in all public schools. The kristaliban bible would replace the constitution, etc.

  12. Abortion is such an intensely personal question that it never should have become a public issue where politicians and judges become involved, but it has, so we have to deal with it. Currently we are asking the wrong questions. The right to choose has long since been an exercised right for women and will continue to be, however Gorsuch votes, and we can hope that chemicals will supplant coat hangers and peritonitis so that women who choose to terminate their pregnancies survive. We as a society seem not to be conflicted on the issue of terminating adult lives. Thus those who are against abortion are generally comfortable with the execution of criminals and sending people off to wars to die for corporate interests (aka dying for your country) while marching in the street and shouting outside abortion clinics about the sanctity of “life.” As with human decisions involving state-sponsored executions and wars, such sanctity, being selective, is not therefore the question. The narrow question here presented is whether the fundamental rights of women to choose what to do with their own bodies overrides state sanctions to the contrary and I, for one, think that is none of the state’s business and never should have been. Like nearly all others, I am personally and in isolated context opposed to abortion, but that is not the question, however anti-abortionists wish to frame it. Roe legalized safe abortions within certain parameters, and its reversal means that abortions will be rendered unsafe – hardly a desirable outcome flowing from the state’s intrusion into the rights of women. Given my reasoning, Roe should have been unnecessary, but it is what it is, and if reversed with a Gorsuch vote, we can expect an uptick in maternal as well as fetal deaths. Sound public policy? War on women? You be the judge.

  13. This blog is turning into one big group therapy session. You’re not getting anywhere. The poliltical problems in the U.S. are now about fascism and freedom. You’re living in the past.

    The Civil Rights Movement made some headway because of an accommodation with democracy. Democracy is now gone for all practical purposes.

    You should ether face the truth or save your breath. This blog has a wide audience that doesn’t actively participate. You’re probably doing more harm than good by not dealing with the unfortunate political reality that now exists in the U.S.

    There are those around the world who might believe that you’re in touch with reality which you’re not.

  14. Gerald:
    The lesson is that almost everything is politicized because it gives politicians more power, abortion, education, capital punishment, health care, etc.

  15. Marv – I agree that there is a giant issue of fascism versus freedom extant in this country, but areas for discussion such as abortion involve state-sponsored fascism, too, and our battles with state and or corporate control of our very lives is a fight against fascist control as are our fights against negative state policies on the environment, our taxing schemes, etc. So while I agree that the macro problem is one of fascist overthrow of democratic idealism, I do not agree that fighting fascism issue by issue amounts to ignoring the problem. The macro problem is, after all, a mere summation of mini-problems and issues, and I think their solution one-by-one is our sole means of effecting change and that we must use a scalpel rather than a machete to effect a good result and revival of our democratic heritage, tattered and torn as it is.

  16. The Republicans with a healthy dose of Koch money and others on the Right, find various attachment points to their voters. I have not seen a poll, but how many voters are truly one issue voters? The one issue could be Bible Thumping. The Bible Thumping brings in the anti-choice, people, religious voucher schools, school prayer in public schools, family values, and Bible Creationism. Another single issue is the NRA sponsored legislation, more weapons will make you safe.

    The Koch Bros, and other Right Wing bank rollers, I would suspect could care less about Bible Thumping and the NRA. However, the Thumpers and the gun lobby can be used as mercenaries in sense to achieve a the goal of Steroid Capitalism which the dismantling of any and all controls on the corporations and the 1%.

  17. Marv, you are not the sooth-sayer of this blog as has been shown several times earlier. These are interested people expressing their thoughts so stop being the critic and join in the fun. Irvin

  18. Gerald @ 9:24 a.m.

    “So while I agree that the macro problem is one of fascist overthrow of democratic idealism, I do not agree that fighting fascism issue by issue amounts to ignoring the problem.
    The macro problem is, after all, a mere summation of mini-problems and issues, and I think their solution one-by-one is our sole means of effecting change and that we must use a scalpel rather than a machete to effect a good result and revival of our democratic heritage, tattered and torn as it is.”

    Where or when did I say fighting fascism issue by issue amounts to ignoring the problem? I said the group wasn’t dealing with the political reality? If you can’t contain the deep systemic problem which you label as a MACRO PROBLEM, then dealing with all these “mini-problems and issues” is a waste of time. I’ve been trying to say that for almost two years on this blog. It’s more than a MACRO PROBLEM it is THE PROBLEM.

    The DNA of the DEEP SYSTEM is FASCIST extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic.

    Not to deal with it is the same as attempting to deal with a rash caused by a cancer with some kind of ointment or cream. Only a fool would do that. And I know you’re not a fool.

  19. Marv – My apologies for not understanding the thrust of your commentary. You are right that fascism is the problem and agree that it must be attacked issue by issue, so we do not disagree on such a fundamental look at our current ideological crisis, but let’s not let misunderstandings in language deter us from challenging and attacking any and all anti-democratic measures proposed by our government. Parenthetically, where have you been over the last several days? I have missed your contributions to this blog. Hang tough, and keep contributing.

  20. Political problems in this country are numerous and they are escalating daily in number and importance; fascism is but one form of bigotry we are fighting. We are fighting for freedom to survive the current government administration and for freedom from destruction from within. We must remove the current administration from our dwindling list of allies because they cannot be trusted; foreign and domestic enemies have become unrecognizable, friends have become foes. Within our families, our friends and our neighbors; we must weigh our words carefully because freedom of speech in all forms may soon be a thing of the past…including the Internet and blogs such as this one.

    We must pick our battles carefully but never lose sight of those we cannot fight today. This “group therapy” keeps us informed; the members of this group constantly reminds us of who and what we are fighting and what we are fighting for. It keeps us strong, builds us up when we are losing hope, it provides information we wouldn’t have access to otherwise. We can support each other, argue the facts and inform others of local issues as well as national; we can also get pissed and speak our minds. This is a form of “group therapy” which is local, national and goes beyond our borders. We CANNOT be walled in by the current administration unless we allow it to happen; that is the basis of this blog and Sheila’s wise counsel.

  21. It’s like watching a slow motion crash. Every day something new. But what we’re living through now is the chain of stupidity that leads to the crash. Up on the bridge an entire crew of inexperienced incompetents who have never piloted the ship of state are pushing buttons and spinning knobs to see what happens when I do this.

    The ship itself is without direction except for full steam ahead blind to all hazards.

    As the full force of physics dictate no change in speed and direction the directionless random input from the bridge will net nothing for awhile.

    However there are icebergs ahead and when they hove into view the bridge will panic and all buttons will be pushed at once and a collision that could be averted won’t be.

    Then the wreck starts unfolding and the mutiny starts organizing.

    We’ll survive and fix the broken things and eventually resume travel in a purposeful direction but will be faced with as many challenges as we can imagine.

    The only thing that we can count on is that we will emerge wiser and better prepared to avoid the other icebergs.

  22. What I think most people don’t understand about Roe is the context in which it was decided: the case holding wasn’t “pro-abortion”, but rather, the point at which the government acquires the right to outlaw an abortion. Roe held that at the point of fetal viability outside the uterus, the government could restrict abortions, but not before that point. Up to 20 weeks gestation was considered the period in which all experts could agree that a fetus was not viable outside the uterus. Roe came along after a series of cases dealing with the right of privacy in personal and reproductive matters, such as Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a state law forbidding teaching methods of contraception, even to married couples, and Loving v. Virginia, which overturned a state law forbidding miscegenation, which is inter-racial marriage.

    If Roe is overturned, then this would mean that states DO have a say-so in a woman’s reproductive life once she conceives. If so, then did the extreme conservatives ever consider that states could COMPEL a woman to have an abortion, even if she objected? If a woman loses her right of privacy and self-determination upon conception, then there would be no legal barrier to compulsive abortion, like they used to do in China. So, what if, for example, the State of Indiana decided that people with a family history of Lou Gehrig Disease, or Huntington Disease were a drain on the Medicaid budget because they need long-term, expensive care, so people carrying these genes need to stop having children. Could the State of Indiana compel testing for genetic conditions that result in long-term care and could the State compel abortions of fetuses destined to become ill to save taxpayers money? I say YES, if states acquire the right to direct what happens after conception. BTW: Indiana used to have laws forcing sterilization of people deemed to be unworthy of reproducing, so this is by no means far-fetched.

    It’s just like the arguments over prayer in schools–those in favor see it as a Christian thing, but would they feel the same way if the prayers were Muslim or some other non-Christian denomination? Giving the government power over a pregnancy from the moment of conception gives the government the power to compel an abortion. The issue in Roe always was the right of a woman to be free from government interference in her reproductive life, but Roe held that it isn’t an absolute right, and that states could outlaw abortion after the age of fetal viability. For this reason, even those who are anti-abortion ought to oppose overturning Roe.

  23. Natacha; excellent points, points which have gotten lost in the shuffle during the religious intrusion becoming political and on to enacted laws in some states. I 1970 I had to have by husband’s written permission on a legal document for a tubal ligation; at age 32 with five children and “female problems”, I should have had the right to make this decision myself. Had to argue to get the required signature; with Hobby Lobby and others controlling access to birth control, I fear we are moving back to those long ago days when women were chattel and all rights submissive to men as their right. Not even political at that time, simply male domination.

  24. Today’s women of child-bearing age were not around when abortions were illegal, sought in clandestine back alleys, and often deadly. Those stories need to be revived to educate today’s younger generations.

    So many of the anti-abortion folks also oppose contraception, safety net programs for poor women and children, and equal rights for women. And yes some of those folks are women, but the women visibly opposing women’s rights are women of economic means. I noticed a similar phenomenon with those who opposed Obamacare. They already had health insurance.

  25. To give some substance and background to our current brawl to keep fascism contained, consider this quote from Sinclair Lewis, a product of our trust busting days: ” When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” Anyone see a Trump with a flag and Pence with a cross in this insightful language? Perhaps of more concern was the author’s failure to use “if” for “when.” Our task, of course, is to see that fascism never comes to America since it cannot co-exist with our democratic idealism – so to the ramparts!

  26. Gerald,

    You might add this to your quote from Sinclair Lewis. It is from “The Revolution of Nihilism” by Hermann Rauchning (New York: Alliance Book Corporation: 1939)p. 98-99:

    “There exists, or at all events, among certain circles of no small political and economic importance, in Germany and abroad, a conception of events in Germany which cannot be TOO STRONGLY REPUDIATED. This is that a number of great capitalists, thoroughly aware of what they are about, cooly calculating and entirely realists, are deliberately guiding the course of events from behind the scenes or at least keeping a close watch on events from behind the scenes, ready to come forward at any moment if necessary and to declare and carry into effect the actual aims underlying the whole of developments in Germany. Supported abroad both economically and politically, these people, it is or was supposed, are allowing the National Socialists wave [Trump, Pence, & Bannon] to spend itself. They have deliberately allowed National Socialism to come into the foreground, convinced that without some sort of revolutionary mass movement [Tea Party], in which the accumulated tension can find an outlet, the German nation [U.S.A.] cannot be sheperded into a genuine and lasting restoration of the OLD ORDER [Jim Crow and more]. These people it is supposed, had the means at any time of compelling a restoration of stability in German PUBLIC AFFAIRS, but their deliberate purpose was to allow the National Socialist revolution to reach its climax, taking advantage of all the confusion it might produce in the RELATIONS BETWEEN FOREIGN POWERS, and only then to come forward with their own plan of a German proposal for a far-reaching peace settlement and at the same time to END THE REVOLUTION.”

    “No such group exists or ever existed. What we find is a tendency in the oppostie direction. The very groups which have been credited with the intention to end the revolution [Bush et al] are preparing to legitimaze the present regime. The efforts they have been making to secure wide support for the establishment of existing conditions on a firm footing reveal anxiety lest developments should enter a new phase. The monarchist and reactionary groups of the past and now devoting all their energies to two ends—to preventing new revolutionary developments and to preventing counter-revolutionary action from any quarter, whether monarchist or LIBERAL and DEMOCRATIC, lest everything that they consider to have been achieved should be thrown once more ino the MELTING-POT. Today, and its seems to me to be a fact worthy of note, certain capitalists and reactionary circles seem to be far from desiring, still less supporting, any attempt to challenge the THIRD REICH [Trump, Pence, & Bannon].


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