Will there be even a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats?
Obviously, abortion is worth more than a dime, it was THE reason people gave for voting for Gore in 2000 - The future of the Supreme Court was THE difference.
(nb: If you don't understand why this issue is not trivial, perhaps you should go here and check this out.)
While I was looking for a copy of the shocking, and yet important photo of "Leona's sister, Gerri" that became so much part of the pro-choice movement, I came across this organization, medical students for choice which illustrates one of the lesser-known problems for those seeking to end a pregancy. To the extent that "choice" is already evaporating, whether because of lack of doctors trained to do abortions, or because of increasingly restrictive state laws, it's also true that the support for the Roe decision is not enough to guarantee women's reproductive rights...but damn it, at least it's something.
People's reactions to the O'Connor resignation all over the left, are an indication of how important Roe v. Wade remains to a very large number of people. However, With the O'Connor resignation, a story that was being written about a lot from January to April of this year, has just come back up. The Guardian today references the January article by Benjamin Wittes in Atlantic Monthly, which argues that Roe v. Wade is bad law, and suggests that for many "liberals," Roe v. Wade, perhaps the classic case that argues for how essential privacy is to the very definition of the liberal state, is now considered a liability. A few months later, Amy Goodman hosted a debate between Kim Gandy and Phil Singer on the issue. What Singer says doesn't put me at ease, nor does the fact that the person who will be "heading the charge" in opposition is anti-choicer Harry Reid . Although some have warmed to him, O'Connor's resignation does bring the issue back into the spotlight.
While it may be tempting for people to get involved in strategizing for the democrats in congress, such sideline activity is not our main call at the moment. I've been reading several "beltway" type blogs, and there seems to be a general agreement among them that Bush will pick someone who is anti-choice, and that the best that can be hoped for is someone who is not completely insane. My fear is that the fight won't be engaged in congress directly because the Democrats are so afraid of the right that they won't talk about abortion and privacy, that democrats are so afraid of losing the filibuster entirely, that they will concede ground. There is already, of course, a lot of threatening talk from the right about the inappropriateness of the "litmus" test...you know, the the test that asks the judges if they are willing to uphold the FUCKING law.
What it looks like the progressive democrats' strategy will be (with a few exceptions) to identify and attack the extremist elements of the Republican party and demand that Bush not cater to them in his choice of nominees. MOVEON's creating an ad that will raise the "extremist issue through the Schaivo case. If they do this, if they accept that they cannot get a judge willing to uphold Roe v. Wade, they are just going to go for the wacko defense.
While this all makes a certain degree of short-term sense for the people in congress, it doesn't make sense to me. If you don't fight for the rights you want, nobody else will do it for you. If the "opposition" party is not commited to upholding legal abortion, it is clear that support for abortion on demand without apology has to be made VERY clear by America's citizens. On Counterpunch, Nicole Colson recently argued that the strategy is to take it to the streets, and I agree. I went to a huge abortion rights march in DC last Spring - it was one of the biggest DC marches in US history. We complain that Bush doesn't pay attention, but the bigger problem is that the Democrats, who profit at the voting booth from pro-choice voters, didn't appear to pay attention. While NOW and NARAL built support for the Dems, the Dems response was erm...Harry Reid and Hilary Clinton calling abortion a "tragedy." OY Gevult.
Off the tuchas.. we need a big march that tells those people in congress - you are accountable and we demand that you put up a fight, not just against the worst evil, but for legal abortion, in those halls of congress.