Talking Points

Democrats are complicit in the looming loss of abortion rights

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Wednesday strongly indicated that the conservative supermajority is going to strike down Roe vs. Wade. That will open the door to total abortion bans in all conservative states, as well as most swing states sooner or later — as Josh Marshall points out at Talking Points Memo, in states like Wisconsin, Republicans have gerrymandered the local legislature so thoroughly that democracy is functionally abolished there.

Democrats are naturally flipping their lids. The news loosed a million fundraising emails operatically melting down about the threat to abortion access, promising to fight for reproductive rights, and so on.

Oddly, few of them seemed to mention that Democrats could head off the Supreme Court quickly and easily … right now. They currently control the House, the Senate, and the presidency, so they could just pass a law legalizing abortion at the national level. Roe struck down state abortion bans; removing it would not have any effect on something Congress decides to take into its own hands.

It's worth pointing out that the obvious conservative end goal here is gigantically unpopular. If abortion is murder, as right-wing ideologues are constantly saying, then no exception for rape or incest is permissible — and indeed, the recent Texas abortion ban after 6 weeks contains no such exceptions. Banning all abortions without exception polls at 19 percent support.

But the truth is, congressional Democrats aren't going to enshrine protections for abortion access into federal law. Doing so would require getting rid of the Senate filibuster, which Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) do not support. A larger group of Democrats are plainly uncomfortable with a full-throated defense of reproductive rights, even if they are standing on firm public opinion ground.

Until the party can assemble a membership that actually supports doing what the party claims it believes, voting for Democrats will not accomplish anything for abortion rights on a national level.