Some, like Daniel McConchie of Americans United for Life, which did not take part in [South Dakota's effort to pass a law banning nearly all abortions], said they would have preferred to reduce abortions by continuing to press for restrictions like waiting periods, parental and spousal notification laws, and the prohibition of certain types of abortion — quieter measures that draw less attention and strike a less head-on blow to Roe.This problem is inherent in political activity that operates through the courts. Many different individuals and groups can move themselves into a position where they can file a case, which they then can structure and control. You may care about the issue that will be decided, but they will determine the strategies and arguments. It will be those who work most quickly, not those who gather the most political support, who have the most effect.
"There is tension," Mr. McConchie said, between those who agree with him about abortion but not about strategy. "A lot of those people — what we tend to think of as the purists — in essence think that people who would push a more incremental approach are sellouts. I understand that type of zeal, but there is a severe penalty you can end up paying."
Those who pressed for the chance to overturn Roe said they had seen hints already that the new Supreme Court, with two recent appointments by President Bush, might be open to reconsidering Roe. One such hint, they said, came just last week, when the court announced it would review a challenge to a federal law prohibiting an abortion procedure, what these opponents call partial-birth abortion.
"It's the right thing," said Leslee Unruh, leader of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse. "It's like Martin Luther King's approach — it's never the wrong time to do what's right. South Dakota is in a unique position to do something for the 800 children aborted every year."
But these opponents are also counting on the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens and the appointment by President Bush of another justice amenable to overturning Roe — all uncertain calculations, Mr. McConchie said. Think of what damage may be done, he said, if the court hears the case, but reaffirms Roe. And, should their forces devote money to this strategy, he asked, over all other efforts?
IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian writes:
By the way, does anyone else find the name "National Abstinence Clearinghouse" to be as absurd and hilarious as I do? I imagine getting a sweepstakes mailing from them with a picture of Pope Benedict on the envelope telling me that I may already be a sinner.