I’m always disgusted with those who want to keep the abortion issue alive as a political issue to benefit Republicans. I’ve long suspected that the Karl Roves of the world don’t really want Roe v. Wade to be overturned for that reason. This is cynicism at its worst. The abortion issue is important and should be discussed on its own merits.
But I don’t think it’s cynical to ask whether it would benefit the pro-life movement to lose the partial-birth abortion cases.
Keep in mind: this is a debate over a procedure. Banning partial-birth abortion will not save a single fetus. It will just change the way in which the fetus is killed.
Isn’t it better to have this front-and-center in Americans’ minds? The availability of partial-birth abortion means that, in Americans’ imaginations, the butchery of an abortion sometimes takes place outside the womb. In reality, D&E and D&X are both gruesome procedures, but for some reason Americans are particularly disturbed by the partial-birth abortion procedure.
If the Supreme Court continues to insist that it must be available, that gives the pro-life movement a powerful political issue to use to persuade Americans about abortion and the unreasonableness of the Supreme Court.
Legally, it would be good for the pro-life movement to win the case. Winning would mean a judicial acceptance of more restrictions on abortion, and a higher judicial value placed on fetal life.
But the more reasonable Supreme Court precedent seems to the average American, the less incentive he feels to change that precedent.
Legally, it would be good for the pro-life movement to win these cases. But politically, it may be better to lose.
UPDATE: “Lower” changed to “higher” in the third-to-last paragraph; thanks to a commenter for noting the error.