Americans just can’t stop fighting about abortion. It’s a third-rail issue that has alternately animated the left and emboldened the right. But now, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s refusal to halt a new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks and allows citizens to reap bounties for turning in anyone who provides or facilitates one, the politics of the 50-year political stalemate on abortion may be shifting.
Republicans hope a major victory on abortion will strengthen their base, while Democrats think a significant defeat on abortion could galvanize theirs. To Republicans, the Supreme Court’s refusal to strike down the Texas law—which prohibits abortions before most women even know they’re pregnant, and makes no exceptions for rape and incest—is a vindication of decades of organizing to elect conservatives to appoint anti-abortion judges to the court. Over those decades, much of the Democratic base refocused on other issues, after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade protected the right to an abortion. But now, the new Texas abortion law—the most restrictive in the country—could send the issue to the top of the priority list for Democratic voters.