Dem 51
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GOP 49
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This Wasn't How It Was Supposed to Work

When the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, pro-choice forces immediately began strategizing about how to hold the line, short term, and to keep abortion procedures as accessible as possible. If you had offered Planned Parenthood a deal in which the number of abortions performed nationwide dropped by only 5%, they would have taken it. Anti-choice forces, meanwhile, were thrilled that the number of abortions would go down, and began thinking about a time when maybe the procedure could be eliminated nationwide.

Things have not quite worked out as expected. In fact, according to a new study from the Society of Family Planning, in the year after Dobbs, the number of abortions in the U.S. went... up. And not by a small number, either. There were approximately 2,200 more abortions than there would have been, but for the Supreme Court's decision.

Dobbs did, of course, have a dramatic impact on where the abortions were performed. In the 17 states with the harshest limits on the procedure, there were 115,000 fewer abortions in the year after the decision. However, the 33 remaining states, along with the District of Columbia, more than made up the difference, performing 117,000 more abortions in the year after the decision. In some states, the change is particularly stark. Texas, which got a head start on outlawing abortion, saw the total number of abortions drop by close to 37,000. Illinois, which just so happens to border a whole bunch of abortion-unfriendly states, saw the total number of abortions increase by nearly 22,000.

This is nothing short of a disaster for anti-choice activists. They have saddled the Republican Party with a real anchor around its collective neck, and in exchange for that, have seen no reduction in abortions performed. Indeed, we would be remiss if we didn't point out that a core argument for many anti-choice activists is that the people who made Roe possible are guilty of murder. "Blood is on their hands," is the usual refrain. Following that logic would mean that anyone who made Dobbs possible is now part of the guilt equation.

It is true, needless to say, that women who require an abortion have to work harder, on average, to get one now, as opposed to 5 years ago. Will that eventually lead to a downturn in the number of procedures? Maybe, but in view of this new evidence, we kind of doubt it. Why would pregnant women decide that "I just can't make the trip" in, say, 2025 if they didn't say that in 2022? Meanwhile, the folks working to keep various options available (mifepristone-via-mail, abortion clinics located on state borders, etc.) are likely to have their operations running like a finely tuned machine soon, if they don't already.

On the anti-abortion side, there will be much unhappiness about these numbers. And we can't imagine any other response besides doubling and tripling down on things like trying to arrest pregnant women who cross state borders. So, those voters who are motivated to keep abortion legal are going to have more and more motivation to get to the polls to do so. In short, the dog has not only caught the car, it's now laid the groundwork for a vicious cycle of greater and greater extremism (and the political ramifications of it). In that context, the election in Ohio (see above) looms very large, indeed. (Z)

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