Column: Roe V. McPalin

This story was written by Ben Gifford, The Dartmouth

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for fearing a Palin-McCain White House: One would be Johns unwavering confidence, despite the ongoing Wall Street bank-domino, that the fundamentals of our economy are strong (of course, if by the fundamentals of our economy, John really does mean American workers, then I guess hes right but also an idiot). Another good reason to be scared of McPalin: Sarahs self-proclaimed foreign-policy credentials amount to her uncanny ability (and here I paraphrase) to see Red people from her backyard.

However, despite these and others, there is one overarching reason why I am terrified of a Republican victory in the upcoming election: If Palin-McCain wins, chances are high that Roe v. Wade will be overturned before the 12s graduate. As I see it, all it would take is a will and a way.

First the will: According to his web site, John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. Now, some may argue that John is just toeing the party line here that his conservative rhetoric is no more than a way of keeping Republican minds off the allegedly-pro-life-but-actually-pro-choice McCain we saw in 2000.

Personally, Im not convinced. Not only has McCains language regarding abortion been particularly unambiguous this election season, but his choice of the arch-pro-life Palin (ban all abortions, even when rape is involved) also suggests that he has lost any sympathy he may once have had for the pro-choice movement.

So, it seems that we have a will.

Now for the way: On the Right side of the Supreme Court, we have Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas; we can safely assume that each of these justices will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presents itself. On the opposite side of the bench, theres Breyer, Souter, Ginsburg and Stevens, all of whom are pro-Roe. And, although the swing vote, Kennedy, helped to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), he defended Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and will hopefully continue to do so in the future. So far, so good Roe is supported by a 5-4 majority.

However, a closer look at these facts does not yield promising results: Justice Stevens is 88 years-old. This means that if McCain is elected president, we will be (even less than) a heartbeat away from an anti-Roe majority. Whats more, we might not have to wait for Stevens to croak; he may retire anyway, as soon as he becomes the oldest Supreme Court Justice ever (2011 McPalin, year three). And even if Stevens does hold on, the death or retirement of Ginsburg (the next oldest justice at 75) would have identical consequences.

Acommon misconception people have is that overturning Roe v. Wade would result in a national ban on abortion. This is not the case. Instead it would mean repealing federal abortion rights, thereby returning the power of abortion legislation to the states.

So, for us in Hanover, a Roe-reversal probably wouldnt have any noticeable effects even if New Hampshire decided to outlaw abortion, its unlikely Massachusetts or Vermont would, and pregnant students could just drive to clinics in Boston or Burlington. And, for wealthy, connected citizens across the country, regardless of their particular states laws, finding a good doctor probably wouldnt be too hard either.

However, for lower-class women living with unwanted pregnancies, deep in the conservative parts of the United States, illegal abortion would present a serious problem. When every dollar you make goes immediately to food and rent, the process of finding an abortion clinic in a far away state culd easily be too costly and time consuming.

In John McCains America, these women and others would be forced to opt for dangerous, back-alley abortions. As a man I will never be able to understand the horror of such a decision, but I can certainly begin to get an idea.