Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
As I'm sure everyone knows, South Dakota passed the stringent anti-abortion bill as a challenge to Roe v. Wade. I read two items that made me think about the politics of the whole thing. Remember, polls have shown that a solid majority of Americans think abortions should be legal. First, from Slate:
As USAT also emphasizes, many anti-abortion types are actually bummed about the new law. The reason for the seeming Bizzaro World response: People on both sides think the law will serve as a big banner for abortion-rights groups—and then get knocked down by the Supremes. If abortion-rights groups play it right, said one such advocate, "this might be the best thing that ever happened to the pro-choice movement."
Particularly if anti-abortion folks take their best shot and lose. A loss in the Supreme Court would greatly strengthen the precedent of Roe.

The second item was the quote from Digby in an email to FireDogLake:
I just realized that those nuts in South Dakota might be having an unanticipated effect. I am working today and this guy said to me over lunch, "I can't believe that these people are really serious." He's a bit of a putz and he admitted that he'd believed women were exaggerating the threat. I said "I hope you're ready to be daddies, boys. Last time abortion was illegal they didn't have DNA testing" and they all looked stunned.
Wedge issues are a funny thing. They motivate the passions in voters when they feel they have something to lose. It's exactly due to the passion that wedge issues are all the more powerful, usually out of proportion to the issues true importance. I think Digby is right when she says that a lot of people thought the pro-choice folks were ginning up the dangers of the anti-choice cause. The nominations of Alito and Roberts, and now the South Dakota law, are very tangible manifestation of a concerted plan to eliminate abortion that just might work. It should be very interesting to watch how this plays out politically as it gets crystal clear to anyone with one-eye open that the right to an abortion is truly endangered.