The Supreme Court Sets the Stage for the 2022 Midterm Elections

May 25, 2021

Instead of political party leaders setting the agenda for the mid-term elections, the Supreme Court decided to take over that role. The court's decision to review Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization and answer whether all pre-viability abortion bans are unconstitutional, placed overturning Roe v. Wade at center stage heading into mid-terms. The problem is most Americas do not know what Roe did, and consequently, as Scott Rasmussen points out on "Washington Watch," most Americas do not know what overturning Roe would do. Education surrounding Roe v. Wade will have a major impact on how the issue plays out politically.

When Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton were decided in 1973, the Supreme Court's rulings overturned nearly every state law regarding abortion. The Roe decision prevented states from limiting abortion in the first trimester, allowed for state regulation in the interest of a woman's health in the second trimester, and allowed states to outlaw abortion in the third trimester except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother; however, the decision handed down in Doe has been interpreted to say that Roe's health exception must include mental health. As a result, unless a state passes laws stating otherwise, abortion through all nine months of pregnancy is the default state law.

Even in the 1970s, when it was virtually impossible for an average person to recognize an unborn child in an ultrasound, 79 percent of Americans disagreed with Roe's findings. Today, as Rasmussen mentioned, "A large number of people believe that it's too easy to get an abortion in America. In fact, that's the plurality position. So the idea of tightening some restrictions is not, as people on the political left would have you believe, something that is greatly opposed by the American people. There is a desire to place some restrictions."

In fact, 76 percent of Americans including 55 percent who identify as pro-choice, want abortion restricted to the first three months of pregnancy -- indicating that Americans want abortion laws significantly more restrictive than the one the Supreme Court is reviewing in Dobbs, which restricts abortions after 15 weeks.

Though 76 percent of Americans disagree with Roe's findings because of confusion over what overturning Roe would do, 70 percent of Americans say they do not want Roe overturned. As Rasmussen mentioned, "A majority of voters do not know what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Thirty percent think that abortion would be outlawed everywhere in the country. Twenty-six percent simply don't know what would happen."

Regardless, Rasmussen says, if abortion becomes a bigger issue (and the Supreme Court is certainly helping to make it one), the slight edge that Republicans have in their pro-life enthusiasm could come in to play in a major way in 2022. "The [intensity] is generally on the pro-life side." So, Scott said, depending on what happens, "I think it helps get Republican turnout even stronger. We're already seeing Republicans more fired up about the midterm elections than Democrats. Obviously, there's a very long way to go. But for many Democrats, the primary reason that turnout was [so high was] to get Donald Trump out of office. So that would remove [him] from the equation." If the Supreme Court drops a bombshell, he acknowledged, all bets are off.

If Roe is overturned, state legislatures will make their own abortion laws. It would "allow states to...identify themselves as either pro-life or pro-abortion. And...if people feel strongly about it, they can move to another state." Tony Perkins stated. If this year's 536 pieces of state level pro-life legislation including 146 abortion bans, are any indication, people certainly feel strongly about abortion, and they are electing legislators who will reflect their views.

Of course, that was the intention behind the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. There is no "right" to an abortion listed in the Constitution. As such, the power to rule on the constitutionality of abortion should never have been in the hands of the Supreme Court.

Right now, America's laws on abortion are some of the most barbaric in the world, putting the U.S. on equal footing with human rights violators like China and North Korea. If the Supreme Court rules to overturn Roe in Dobbs, states will have the opportunity to change that. The future of pro-life legislation should be at the forefront of voters' minds during the upcoming midterm elections -- and during every election. Electing pro-life state legislators will result in pro-life laws, and for unborn babies in America, the stakes have never been higher.