The pieces are now in place. After eight years of Republican governance at the federal level, and in particular, the appointment by George Bush of “appropriate” replacement Supreme Court justices and the consent of the Senate, the deck has been stacked.
The second step was the Republican sweep of the 2010 elections, not at the federal level, but at the state level where Republicans took control of many states in both the executive and legislative branches. Never mind that the sweep was in reaction to a poor economy, the extreme right wing Republicans (are there any other kind left?) have been extremely busy addressing the “abortion problem”. As reported in the LA Times, in the first 3 months of 2011, legislators in 49 states have introduced 916 measures related to reproductive issues. Most of these seek to restrict abortion access.
In many cases, the laws that have passed at least one house and those that have been signed into law, are, even on the face of them, completely unconstitutional. They restrict access to abortion through a number of mechanisms including requiring doctors to lie to patients (reading legislature drafted untrue “facts” about pregnancy and abortion consequences), place unreasonable restrictions on facilities where abortions can be performed, use the tax laws to coerce businesses to not provide abortion coverage in employee health plans, and many others, all with the obvious intent to stop all abortions.
As most of these laws are, in fact, unconstitutional, why has there been no word from the pro-choice community about challenging them? That’s where the Catch-22 lies. The big problem with challenging these laws in court is that that is exactly what the Republicans want. Almost no matter how the laws are judged in lower courts, the suit will almost invariable end up in the Supreme Court where the stacked deck awaits. It’s seems pretty clear that a 5 to 4 majority will uphold many of these laws and, in effect, Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land since 1973, will be overturned.
We are about to re-enter the era of illegal, back-alley abortions. It feels to me like a traffic accident one sees coming, knows it’s going to happen and realizing that there is nothing you can do to stop it. My only hope is that one of the very smart pro-choice people we have in this country will come up with some way to stop this madness. Please, is there nothing we can do to stop this steam roller?