I've been kicking around this post in my head for the past few months. It's only a draft, but I figure I can post it and get feedback so I can improve it later. I also figure if I don't go ahead and publish it now, I'll never get it done.
During the election last November I was speaking with someone about voting and the topic of abortion came up. The other person commented that they had a personal difficulty with voting for someone who was pro-choice.
Before I continue I would like to include my disclaimer: what I am writing isn't a critique on the topic of abortion itself, but rather voting habits. So save your angry pro-life/pro-choice rants/comments for another time.
First I would like to give some background on the issue. We are at a point where there are only two ways that the abortion situation in America could really be changed:
1st - Through reversal by the Supreme Court. We already have two judges who have said that they believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. (Scalia, Thomas). Alito has been rumored to agree, Roberts - is still a wild card since we know very little about him. The rumored swing-vote is Kennedy. Even if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court, the decision of whether abortion would be legal would return to each of the states. As long as a single state keeps abortion legal, and allows citizens of other states to use their clinics the issue will remain among us.
2nd - Through a constitutional amendment. This is accomplished by a vote by 2/3 of both the House, and the Senate. Followed by a vote by the states, with the amendment passing only if it receives approval from 3/4 of the states. Basically this means that 67 Senators, 327 Members of the House, and 38 states would have to pass an anti-abortion amendment. It also basically means that only the Republican Party has the power to pass an amendment today since they are the only party with control over a requisite number of states.
The Republican Party has long held a grip on the issue of abortion as the "pro-life" party. However I ask the question, "what have they really done about the issue?"
The Republican Party get hoards of "value voters" each election. These voters often make statements similar to my friend such as "I don't agree with any of their political platform, but I vote for them because they are pro-life."
The issue seems to get pulled out for elections, and then put in the attic until election time comes around again, much like old Christmas decorations. Afterwards the issue is dropped, or a small bone like a partial birth abortion ban is given to keep the value voters happy. Then the pro-lifers pat themselves on the back over this non-victory, and the pro-choicers say "you crazy pro-lifers took away a viable medical procedure to protect the health of the mother." Then followed by a number of court appeals, and the situation continues in a vicious cycle.
I would ask anyone who votes solely on the issue of abortion, what have the candidates that you voted for actually accomplished? If these candidates really meant it, and the Republican Party really meant it then why has there been no serious discussion about a constitutional amendment? In theory it would be nearly impossible to overturn, it would apply to all the states, and appeal all you want; the Supreme Court can't touch it. If an amendment would be so definitive, why aren't these so called champions of the pro-life movement in Congress demanding it?
For the past 12 years the Republican Party has held the majority in Congress. They won so spectacularly during the 2004 election that many thought it would take a decade before the Democrats could even begin to recover. (obviously that wasn't true).
Yet isn't odd how congress managed to discuss a marriage amendment. Someone could argue that a constitutional amendment would be completely impractical. (in that case should we just get rid of Article V of the Constitution since it's useless?) Even if this was true, shouldn't the president (who has said that he is a pro-life) have appointed solid individuals who would vote for a pro-life position to the Supreme Court? Instead he appoints a virtual unknown (Roberts), and attempts to appoint Harriet Meyers (another even more unknown, unknown). Finally he appoints Alito, only after outrage that he didn't appoint a "conservative" justice. Still no guarantees about the abortion issue.
Finally I come to the two points of this post. First value voting in the area of abortion accomplishes little in the political landscape as of today. Proof? - Simply ask yourself, what great differences have occurred in the debate for the last 12 years? My second argument which I dedicated most of this post to is that the Republican Party, the supposed party of "pro-life" has no interest in accomplishing this goal. Furthermore the Republican party continues to benefit each election season as they can continue to call upon loyal value voters who may have no other reason to support a conservative platform.
Here is a link to Supply Side Politics
I recommend checking out, that makes a very similar claim from a conservative focus. Go figure I write about something, and then find someone who wrote an excellent post on nearly the same subject (albeit from a different viewpoint) two years ago.