Looking ahead to the “landscape of abortion”

By Dave Andrusko

Kate Zernike is one of the many New York Times reporters whose beat includes abortion. Added by colleague Ruth Graham, she produced “The New Landscape of the Abortion Fight” for the Saturday Times. 

With the mid-term elections complete and Congress approached adjournment, this no doubt seemed like a good time to write an overview.

Of course, much of the beginning focuses on the ballot initiatives swept by pro-abortionists on November 8. Pro-abortion forces are eyeballing additional states but, as Zernike points out, “ballot initiatives aren’t an option in every state.”

Where then? “The path to restoring abortion rights still runs largely through state legislatures, where it has traditionally been harder to mobilize voters and donors.” So if it is true, as Zernike writes, there were additional pockets of voters last month, what does it mean going forward?

For James Bopp Jr., general counsel of the National Right to Life, a net gain in people voting “doesn’t mean a change in the abortion issue,” he said.

“In every state I’ve seen — and I’ve seen 30 or 40 — the Republicans picked up seats in their statehouse and state senate,” he added. “So, if it was true there was some kind of abortion rights wave, it would have caught all these people. There’s no real evidence that there was a net benefit, or you would have seen the opposite of victories for Republicans in every state.”

Then there was what Mr. Bopp called the “enormous net benefit” to the anti-abortion side: Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives — if only narrowly. Had Democrats held their majority, they would have continued to try to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee a nationwide right to abortion. “They were going to go for the stake in the heart,” Mr. Bopp said.

He expects that Republican-controlled legislatures will continue to pass laws like one adopted in Indiana this summer banning abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the pregnant woman.

In some ways, pro-abortion forces agreed with Bopp.

For now, however, the midterms did little to make abortion more available to the 34 million women of reproductive age who live in states that have prohibited it since Roe was overturned. Additional states have restricted it early in pregnancy. Ms. Standiford, of Planned Parenthood, said: “Before the election, there were 18 states with abortion bans in effect; after the election, there were 18 states with abortion bans in effect.”

Looking forward, let’s add more states with widespread protective laws.