Opinion

What can the pro-choice movement do now?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

The Supreme Court appears imminently poised to overturn the national right to an abortion as protected by landmark ruling Roe v. Wade (1973)

Assuming that happens (and it seems that it will), what's next for liberals and the pro-choice movement?

1

‘My body, my choice’

The court's expected ruling would return the question of abortion to the states — many of which have so-called trigger laws, which would implement bans once Roe is overturned — but that doesn't mean the fight is over. Rather, voters and activists have the opportunity to push back. 

"A movement is already underway to pay for women in restrictive states to travel and obtain abortions elsewhere," The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board opined last week, in support of state-level, rather than federal, abortion protections. "Planned Parenthood would have the biggest fund-raising years in its history. Abortion opponents might even be disappointed by the result of the political debate. They would have to make, and win, the moral case against abortion among their fellow citizens."

Writing for The Washington Post in December, columnist Henry Olsen made a somewhat similar case, arguing that pro-life activists should expect "an enormous campaign by abortion rights advocates to mobilize the pro-choice majority" should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

In fact, those protests and mobilization efforts have already begun.

2

Kick it to Congress

Senate Democrats might push to revive their ill-fated attempt to abolish the filibuster to codify abortion protections into law. Not long after the leak broke, high-profile liberals like senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Kirstin Gillibrand of New York called on Congress to do just that.

As both the Post, and The New York Times predict, however, such a push is unlikely to be successful. Even if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) decided to go along with the change to procedure, he is pro-life, leaving the Democrats dependent on Republican votes to pass abortion protections. In March, Manchin was the only Democrat to join Republicans in voting against the House-passed Women's Health Protection Act.

3

Possible midterms fuel

The court's decision might also give Democrats what they're missing in the upcoming midterms: "a compelling message," columnist Karen Tumulty adds for the Post.  The party now has "a concrete case to make," she argues, which is "that Republicans, if they get the chance, will take the country backward — and not just on abortion rights." Voters' ballots in November will, among other things, "be a referendum on the GOP agenda." 

The abortion issue is also likely to stick around beyond midterms, potentially becoming a hot topic in the 2024 presidential race, as well, Bloomberg notes.

4

Shifting focus

Lawmakers, activists, and commentators might also now turn their attention toward expanding the court, to break the conservative majority.

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