President Bush-John Kerry Contest Could Decide Abortion for 30 Years

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush-John Kerry Contest Could Decide Abortion for 30 Years

by Steven Ertelt
August 10, 2004

[ Note: Steven Ertelt is the Editor and CEO of The following editorial is a follow-up to the Pro-Life Advocates: Vote for President Bush opinion piece that summarizes President Bush’s pro-life record.]

Every election year, there’s always talk about the importance of the upcoming election in terms of its impact on abortion policy. There’s no doubt, each election is considerably important.

However, this time around, the stakes are higher than ever before. Here’s why: The next president will have the power to determine whether abortion will remain legal for the next 30 years.

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion by a 7-2 vote. The current court backs abortion by a 6-3 margin.

The next president could appoint as many as four new Supreme Court justices and elevate one of the high court’s members to the Chief Justice position.

This will be an exchange of power and a turnover of membership on the court like never seen before.

For those of us concerned about the nightmarish travesty of abortion, this is a shift that could have enormous potential or set the pro-life community up for decades of more heartache.

Associate Judges Sandra Day O’Connor, John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who back abortion, and pro-life Chief Justice William Rehnquist are all considered likely retirees over the next few years.

President Bush has a strong record thus far of appointing pro-life judges to key federal court positions. Should he be re-elected and replace each of those four judges with pro-life advocates in the mold of Thomas or Antonin Scalia, the current 6-3 pro-abortion margin shifts to a 6-3 position in favor of overturning Roe.

Even if one of those judges turns out to be another O’Connor or Souter, defying the pro-life expectations placed on them during their nominations, a 5-4 margin against Roe still gives the pro-life community its first legitimate opportunity to protect the lives of unborn children since the early 1990s.

However, if John Kerry is elected president, and he replaces those four judges with abortion supporters, that will take the court back to the 7-2 position in favor of abortion that it had in 1973.

In other words, the pro-life movement will be right back where it started in its effort to stop abortion. We will have made no progress in more than three decades in terms of changing the makeup of the Supreme Court, if John Kerry is elected.

Furthermore, those four new judges will be lifetime appointees. They will be younger than the current members of the court and could have as many as 20 to 30 years or more of their career ahead of them.

Consider that the last four judges to leave the Supreme Court served there for decades.

Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe, and Thurgood Marshall served on the high court for 24 years. Byron White, who dissented with Rehnquist in Roe, served 31 years, and William Brennan retired after 34 years on the bench.

Whether the next four judges are pro-abortion or pro-life, several presidential terms would come and go before their likely retirement. The pro-life community would either have a fair chance to turn back Roe or no hope at all.

Pro-life voters need to keep in mind this election year that if John Kerry is elected, Roe will almost assuredly be preserved and abortion will probably remain legal for decades. That means every vote for Kerry and every vote not cast for President Bush (i.e., for a third-party candidate or by citizens who abstain from voting) is a vote to keep abortion legal for as many as thirty years.

If we truly want to see Roe thrown in the trash heap of history right next to the Dred Scott decision, we can’t let that happen.

It is up to you to elect a pro-life president this November. It is up to you to re-elect President Bush. Women and unborn children are counting on you.