“If they are shrewd, the six antichoice justices on the Supreme Court will resist the urge to overturn Roe v. Wade when they decide next term on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. At issue is a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation in explicit defiance of Roe, which protects abortion rights until around 24 weeks. Why hand the Democrats an issue that has worked well for them in purple states like Virginia? An attempt in 2012 to force women seeking abortions to have transvaginal ultrasounds backfired against Republicans so powerfully the state is now entirely under Democratic control.
Despite Roe, states where antichoicers are strong have succeeded in drastically limiting abortion access by passing measures that force clinics to close—six have only one—and heap up obstacles that keep women from accessing abortions in time. As it has done with voting rights, the court can effectively gut Roe while leaving it formally in place. In fact, it tried in 1992, when Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey replaced Roe’s trimester framework with the concept of “viability” and permitted pre-viability restrictions as long as they didn’t constitute an “undue burden,” whatever that is.”