LA Times: Election Could Decide Future of Roe v. Wade Abortion Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

LA Times: Election Could Decide Future of Roe v. Wade Abortion Case

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 6
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The Los Angeles Times, in a weekend article, clearly articulated the massive stakes for the pro-life movement in the upcoming presidential election.

This is important as Barack Obama has pledged to only appoint pro-abortion judges while John McCain promises jurists who won’t make up the law from the bench.

The newspaper confirms the importance pro-life groups have placed on the election — saying that it could determine the fate of legal abortions for decades because of the power the next president will have to shape the Supreme Court.

Although some skeptics doubt the impact the presidential election will have, even leading pro-abortion groups agree that the Supreme Court hangs in balance.

“Every four years, defenders of abortion rights proclaim that the fate of Roe vs. Wade hangs on the outcome of the presidential election,” the Times said in a Sunday story. “This year, they may be right.”

The newspaper notes that “the margin has shrunk to one” when it comes to the pro-abortion majority currently on the Supreme Court.

That’s thanks to the judges President Bush put in place — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito — jurists the pro-life community strongly supported. They believe Roberts and Alito will join with Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who have already issued opinions indicating Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

While the two new judges theoretically have decades of service ahead of them on the Supreme Court, the pro-abortion judges are close to the end of their tenure. They’re led by pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens, who is over 80 and has health issues. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has health issues as well and is expected to end her time on the court if pro-abortion candidate Barack Obama wins in November.

Their replacements would put abortion advocates on the high court for decades and seal the fate for the pro-life movement when it comes to any hope of overturning Roe or getting a Human Life Amendment upheld.

The Times cites both a law professor and a pro-abortion advocate as saying abortion could be decided for decades next month.

"Clearly, Roe is on the line this time," Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen, a former lawyer for NARAL, told the Times. "It is quite clear they have four votes against it. If the next president appoints one more, the odds are it will be overruled."

Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way, tells the newspaper that the pro-abortion side has the same concerns as the pro-life side — with worries that the base is not buying the argument that the election has such monumental importance for abortion.

"What we find scary is that people don’t understand what’s at stake," she said. "In the next four years, one to as many as three Supreme Court justices may step down, and they all will come from the liberal end of the court."

Edward Whelan, a former clerk for Scalia and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, says he’s confident that John McCain, who has the backing of pro-life groups, will select the Supreme Court justice who could be the deciding vote in reversing the landmark case that allowed virtually unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy.

"I would say if we get a President McCain and he gets several appointments, there is a prospect of overturning Roe vs. Wade and returning abortion policy to the democratic process," he said.

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