Opponents and supporters of abortion rights don't agree on much, but both seem to concede that Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that says a woman's right to privacy extends to her decision to have an abortion, is effectively "no longer the law of the land," writes Dahlia Lithwick at Slate. Increasingly more and more states are enacting "invasive, paternalistic, and degrading" abortion regulations which clearly violate Roe, yet they become law because they go unchallenged. Why? Because a legal challenge to these state laws allows for the possibility that the case will eventually go to the Supreme Court, where Roe v. Wade could be overturned completely. This prospect has "frightened those who are pro-abortion rights into being grateful for what they have," even if it's obsolete at a state level. Here, an excerpt:
Gone are the days in which legislatures at least attempted to ensure state regulations conformed to the broadest interpretation of the Roe constraints. The new game lies in expressly violating Roe... at the state level, in the hopes of either forcing the issue at the Supreme Court or making abortion unobtainable as a matter of fact. Either way, abortion opponents believe they will win — and here pro-abortion rights groups may actually agree...
The risk of challenging these clearly unconstitutional laws and then losing at the Supreme Court is evidently so high, according to Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, that it's not worth taking. As she explained last week to Rachel Maddow, the fear that Justice Samuel Alito would vote to overturn Roe is so deep that reproductive rights groups may be opting to leave the state bans in place. And, as she conceded in that interview, wherever unconstitutional state abortion bans go unchallenged, they become law.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week