Today is NARAL Pro–Choice America’s Blog for Choice Day. For the third consecutive year, I am participating.
This year’s topic is: “Given the anti–choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011?”
The answer to that question is complex. Abortion, as it gets people riled and worked up, serves as an excellent motivator for Republican voters, as well as a fundraising tool. Since politicians will eventually learn from losing, it is unlikely that anti–choicers in the US Congress will try to eliminate such an excellent political tool. Indeed, they had complete control of the federal government for six years and only passed the PBABA, which didn’t prevent a single abortion. In addition, any ban would also have to get through the Senate and past Obama’s veto pen. For these reasons, the chance of anti–choicers making a serious attempt to ban abortion is pretty unlikely. It’s far more likely that they’ll just throw table scraps at anti–choicers, try passing an analogue to the PBABA, and make a lot of noise about abortion to keep their supporters worked up. The GOP will gladly have people continue to believe that they intend to ban abortion, however.
On the state level it is different. I agree with Melissa McEwan that the real access issues will be at the state level. There anti–choice activists will try anything to eliminate any pretense of reproductive rights. They will attempt to add arbitrary exclusions that retain a nominal right to abortion, while throwing obstacles that add serious impediments to access. They might even go after contraception as well. And the faux minimalists on SCOTUS will likely uphold most of the restrictions. It would be a kind of incrementalism, slowly eating away at reproductive rights like rust or tin pest go after metal. The end result could well be a regime where abortion rights nominally exist but are completely gutted of meaning and impact.
So in short, there are reasons to be concerned at the state level, and far less so federally.