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The colossal stakes in the SCOTUS scrap of Roe

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Ever since the almost certainly deliberate leak of the memo laying out the SCOTUS conservative majority’s reasoning for scrapping Roe v. Wade, there has been nonstop speculation about just what that means for women, politics and the country. Three things are certain. One is that it will create a whole new era for women, especially poor women of color, in the country. A slew of states will quickly rush to partially or fully outlaw abortion.

They will predictably be in the heartland and the South; states dominated by GOP governors and GOP-controlled legislatures. Another slew of states on the other political end will further liberalize their abortion procedures. They are states such as California and New York, which are dominated by Democratic governors and Democratic-controlled legislatures. The sharp divisions between the red and blue states on abortion will further explode the political fissures in the country.

The second certainty is that scrapping Roe will have a wildly disproportionate effect on poor Black and Hispanic women. They will not have the means, resources or connections to jump on a plane and head for California or New York or other states to take advantage of liberal abortion laws. The nightmare scenario is that once again they will either be forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy that they are ill-equipped financially and emotionally to handle. Or, they will have to go the medieval back-alley illegal abortion route with the colossal health risks involved.

There is one more certainty with the SCOTUS Roe decision. That is that getting rid of Roe is the fulfillment of the long-held dream of the right. From the moment in 1973 the Supreme Court decided the landmark case, religious conservatives, indeed, virtually all conservatives, swung into action. For years, they picketed and hectored, heckled and harassed women at countless family planning clinics throughout the country.

They badgered GOP presidents to issue executive orders barring the federal government from funding virtually any group or agency that even uttered the word abortion in its programs and services. They got states and courts to hack away at the term when life begins and bar abortions for women who are pregnant even one minute past that bogus legalistic time frame. They got successive GOP presidential conventions to put hardline anti-abortion pledges in GOP convention planks.

Despite all this, they were not able to get the SCOTUS to totally dump Roe. They just needed one or two more judges on the high court to finally say no to it. Trump knew that, the GOP knew that, and Democrats always feared that the day would come when they’d have those votes.

Once in the White House, Trump instantly became the one person who could ensure that conservatives finally got their wish on Roe. He nominated Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. That sounded the death knell for Roe.

Now with the 2022 midterms looming, packs of votes from conservatives are needed again. The GOP knows that. The best way to ensure that they’ll show up in droves again is to give them a big victory by boasting that the conservative-dominated SCOTUS delivered on the long-standing conservative hope to scrap Roe. While much is made that this could energize Democrats in the midterms, the flipside is also true: The elimination of Roe could energize conservatives, too. The stakes in the Roe decision are colossal for both parties, for women, and for the nation.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.

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