It was telling that before the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, conservatives in Arizona were already debating which law would frame abortion in this state after Roe.
Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, argued that a territorial-era law that bans abortion would set the rules and penalties. Gov. Doug Ducey argued a state law passed earlier this year would become the guidepost. It bans abortions after 15 weeks and is set to become law on Sept. 24.
I’ve written about the problems of abortion extremism in the Democratic Party that pushes past any of the hard moral questions to pursue abortion with no restrictions, no apologies.
Now Republican extremism is on full display as the party’s far right deludes itself that a conservative Supreme Court has handed them total victory on abortion and unconditional surrender to their foes.
It has not.
Soon, those Republicans are going to run head-on into a boulder called consensus that is nowhere near where these Republicans are on the issue of reproductive rights. Hard-right Republicans can continue to ban any abortion that can be banned, but they will soon be sobered when they start to lose elections.
Americans are in the middle on abortion
Over the 50-year duration of Roe, American attitudes have settled on a kind of midpoint on abortion. Keep it safe and legal, but with some restrictions. In fact, 43 states had set limits on legal abortion at certain points during pregnancy, the Washington Post reported.
The Roberts court was correct to vacate Roe v. Wade for concocting a right to abortion that never existed in the Constitution. Roe had run into its own boulder.
A broad consensus had formed among Supreme Court scholars and watchers left and right that Roe was indefensible. Michael Kinsley, an icon in left-wing political commentary, wrote that it has been understood for decades that Roe was “a muddle of bad reasoning and an authentic example of judicial overreaching.”
The Roberts court turned the question of abortion back to state legislatures to work it out on their own. This is what the Blackmun court should have done 50 years ago.
The anti-abortion right should not delude itself
If you are an anti-abortion rights activist in Arizona, do not delude yourself that Roe’s demise is a fait accompli for Arizona – that abortion will now forever be illegal in Arizona.
One politician breathing those vapors seemed to be Arizona Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Brnovich, who has said on social media that he believes Arizona will revert back to an 1864 territorial-era ban on all abortions. “Brnovich has said he would ask a court to lift the injunction on the 1864 law,” reported The Arizona Republic’s Ananya Tiwari, “but has yet to do so.”
Two Arizona House Republicans, Reps. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, and Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa, tried to bull rush Republican leadership in the closing hours of legislative session with a plan to “explicitly ban abortion,” reported The Republic’s Ray Stern.
Last-minute push: 2 Republican lawmakers argue over abortion ban
Rebuffed by House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, Hoffman implied that Toma was willing to allow the unborn to die before the newest state law regulating abortion goes into effect.
“I’m not debating that with you,” Toma said. “I’m more pro-life than you ever will be. Not only that, but I’ve done more to help life than you ever will.”
It will hit the boulder of popular consensus
If enthusiastic proponents of abortion bans such as Hoffman and Parker continue down this path they will hit that giant rock, which Pew Research Center expresses this way:
“Today, a 61% majority of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.”
The question today is, “Will abortion be legal in Arizona?”
If your answer is a hard “yes,” you will help build new coalitions of Democrats, independents and Republican moderates who will go full bore to keep it legal.
Already, the whip-smart Kris Mayes, Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general, has made it a major theme in her campaign. “The extreme right does not care about women at all. And they certainly do not care about the privacy of Arizonans. I want to be very clear – not on my watch.”
Ultimately, the question in Arizona will become: “What will be the restrictions on abortion?”
The 15-week ban is defensible. Many European nations (more liberal than the United States) outlaw abortion at 12-14 weeks, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Arizona law may have to be amended or rewritten to pass muster post-Roe, but for Republicans it prevents the head-on collision with the boulder.
The beauty of democracy is that when it is allowed to work, consensus is struck and extremists in both parties are left in the cold.
Where they belong.
Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: GOP hardliners may want to ban all abortions, but they will lose