By Natalie Harrison
BBC News, Washington
Abortion opponents see the nine-judge panel’s ruling as a threat to Roe v. Wade Until a case reaches the Supreme Court, which can overrule lower court rulings, Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to abortion, is firm. But that fact has not stopped pro-life supporters from trying to remove the last significant legal obstacle to a quick reversal of the ruling. To the anxious ears of conservative White House advisors, it is all beginning to look a lot like Roe v. Wade “Part 2” is the newest legal gambit. The line of argument is based on a very strong and well-articulated argument that the “fetal rights” doctrine is a product of the American legal system. But you see how this is playing out. In an interview with CNN, Mr Miller suggested that perhaps because the Texas statute at issue was in fact “dangerous and unconstitutional”, the nine-judge appeals court panel seemed to think that it could take “part of it back.” What was being played was a fear that conservative justices may be moving toward an extreme view of abortion law and policy. We may be heading down the slippery slope towards allowing the government to set the kind of conditions and conditions in which a woman can choose to have an abortion. How would that fare in the US Supreme Court? In his comments to CNN, Mr Miller said: “Well I think you see this phenomenon where some of the court justices have said they may have a different view and then, the more they hear arguments, the more they feel that they may have a different view. “If they are consistent in expressing it, it’s an issue that should be revisited.” Modest differences One of the key players in the battle for public opinion over abortion rights is television.
As election time approaches, in the late fall when abortion laws start to be debated, millions of votes will be cast.
And a lot will depend on which television station you tune in to. When the Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, television contributed a lot to putting abortion rights on the map as a social issue that the majority of Americans believed in. So if, in the years since, states have made a number of incremental changes to abortion law, you can be sure some pro-life advocates are hoping that this one move may start a chain reaction that leads to the fall of Roe v. Wade once and for all. One less connection Abortion is not the only social issue that has “married up” with education in the last 25 years. As other issues, like education and poverty, have fallen off the radar screens, so, too, has the abortion debate become less of a focus. Within the one of the most populous and heavily populated states, Texas, a majority of citizens do not hold a position on the issue. [But] the abortion debate in Texas is still very alive and is still quite serious, especially among those who know the issues as intimately as they do. so those of us who take an issue to the Supreme Court and win, that’s an enormous milestone. The challenge facing religious right movement on abortion Courts being cautious Recent opinion polls, like a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, suggest that Americans are “evolving” on the issue of abortion, at least in the sense that they are less focused on it. That trend seems to be borne out in some of the court briefs on the Texas issue. Legal experts in the pro-life movement have written that the supreme court may take the conservative view of the case, just as it did in Planned Parenthood v Casey, the 1992 case, where conservative justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion. “Perhaps the longer this case goes forward, the more conservative that is the Supreme Court’s point of view going forward,” says pro-life lawyer, Ian Thompson. It is not clear if Justice Kennedy will be joined by the other conservative justices on the court. But if he is, the justices who rule in Roe v. Wade “Part 2” may act as a major check on attempts to extend the decision to other states. But, as Mr Miller has indicated, conservative justices will also be cautious about setting a precedent that takes the right to abortion away from women in other states. Any decision would be a step in that direction.