Eight states so far this year have passed laws severely limiting abortion rights. In Missouri, the state's republican governor says he'll sign a similar bill this week.
However, a CBS News poll finds 67% of Americans want the Supreme Court to keep Roe v. Wade as is.
So why are states passing laws that don't reflect the will of the majority of the people? Some lawmakers hope two new conservative justices nominated by President Trump will provide the votes for the Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Alabama Gov. Ivey noted in her signing statement that the law was probably unenforceable but that the law “may bring about the best opportunity … for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter.” It seems the states are making their laws extreme so that they will have to end up at the Supreme Court.
Will Roe vs. Wade be overturned or changed? Perhaps more alarming for the Democrats is that younger people moved in greater proportion towards the pro-life position than older age cohorts. And a May 2019 Hill-HarrisXsurvey found that 55% of those polled found a Georgia-style six-week abortion ban either “just right” or “too lenient.” Again, broken down by age group, it was those aged 18-34 who “were most likely to say the abortion bans did not go far enough.”
At the other end of the scale, New York enacted a law that extended legal abortion into the third trimester in some circumstances. Virginia was also considering such a law.
Most other states follow the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Roe decision in 1973, which says abortion is legal until the fetus reaches viability, usually at 24 to 28 weeks.
The latest bans are not yet in effect (Kentucky’s was blocked by a judge), and all are expected to face lengthy court battles — indeed, their proponents are hoping they will reach the Supreme Court. “Some sponsors evidently want to set up a test case to challenge Roe v. Wade,” said Clarke D. Forsythe, a lawyer for Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group.
Will Roe v. Wade be overturned?
Experts are largely in agreement that if Roe v. Wade were to be substantially altered or overturned, it would not be through the Alabama case. It is instead more likely that the Court will make incremental changes to the law.
Ziegler notes that she thinks there’s a “pretty good chance” that the Supreme Court will eventually change the abortion doctrine so substantially that “it’s no longer recognized in the way it is now.”
However, she argued that it would be unlikely to uphold the Alabama law as that would entail “getting rid of Roe in one shot” and the Court wants to “not appear to be political.”
Instead the Court may start by upholding laws that don’t go as far, “chipping away gradually at Roe and setting the stage for overturning it.”
In fact, the Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming months whether to hear one such case, June Medical Services v. Gee, which challenges a Louisiana law that effectively closes most of the abortion clinics in the state.