In the hours after the bombshell leak of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion toppling Roe v. Wade, I awaited the torrent of Republican-authored press releases vowing to provide every resource the federal government could muster to support the millions of new families they were going to usher into existence.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
Instead, I was treated to irony-free press releases from anti-abortion rights forces taking a victory lap now that their decades-long goal of stripping bodily autonomy from half the nation’s population was finally within reach.
“In Congress, I have always fought for the dignity of human life. Nothing is more important than life,” U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-PA., said in a statement his office sent out on Tuesday afternoon. “After nearly 50 years since Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, I am thrilled that we are closer than ever to delivering historic pro-life protections for the unborn.”
After birth, however? That’s a different story. The press release page of Keller’s congressional website is long on criticisms of the Biden administration, but markedly short of plans that support pregnant people or provide resources to families after their children are born.
And it would be one thing if Keller if was an outlier, but he’s not.
One of the fatal flaws of the GOP’s anti-abortion arguments always has been its profound indifference to the fate of the fetuses that they’re so intent on forcing pregnant people to carry to term.
It’s always been about one thing: Control. Worse, it’s an argument that’s been made by people who have taken a faith capable of depthless love and life-changing liberation, and weaponized it to marginalize the other.
Because if the inverse were true, we’d have ironclad family leave and paid sick leave laws. We’d have universal preschool and affordable childcare. We’d have an array of pre- and post-natal services for pregnant people. And, critically, we’d have done something about the nation’s shockingly high maternal mortality rate — particularly among Black women.
But we do not — and we have not.
In fact, every time I’ve had occasion to write about Republican-backed efforts to restrict abortion rights, it’s been painfully clear that only the tiniest handful of anti-choice lawmakers also have sponsored bills to support and protect pregnant people and children.
I also was treated to solemn condemnations of the person (or people) who had leaked Alito’s draft opinion — which may or may not be the final product the high court makes public when it issues its final opinion, likely in late June.
“Leaking a premature Supreme Court opinion—regardless of subject matter—undermines the Court as an institution and erodes America’s trust in this pillar of our constitutional structure,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a statement his office issued on Tuesday.
Keller offered a similar sentiment in his own statement, saying the “breach of confidentiality represents the undermining of the Court’s ability to deliberate impartially on our nation’s most pressing issues.”
I’ll pause here to note that Keller was not so concerned about the sanctity of our institutions when he said he initially planned to object to the certification of Pennsylvania’s presidential electors, and joined a specious lawsuit that would have tossed his home state’s votes in 2020. And it was only after a violent horde sacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020 that Keller recognized the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s win.
Toomey, who has the nominal fig leaf of being one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in fomenting the insurrection, nonetheless supported every single high court nominee the constitution-battering White House sent his way. Thus, any concerns about compromising the institution went out the window the moment he cast his votes in the affirmative.
So, in the absence of any congressional vote making abortion access the law of the land, or executive action on the same by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on his way out the door, abortion-rights supporters should brace themselves for fresh GOP assaults in the Keystone State.
And if it didn’t already, that should further drive home the stakes of this year’s already hugely consequential campaign to replace the term-limited Wolf, who has stood as a one-man veto machine for the last eight years. At least one Republican aspirant is already rubbing his hands together with glee.
But it won’t end there.
Because, as Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce writes, if the high court can lay waste to one constitutionally protected privacy right, it can come after another. And that means same-sex marriage is at risk. It means that access to contraception is at risk. And it means that interracial marriage is at risk.
Keep in mind, the likely high court ruling will come even though a majority of Americans say they believe the high court should uphold Roe, validating years of steady campaigning by a noisy, but exceptionally well-organized, minority who do not speak for the rest of us.
If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis can try to ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ his way to the 2024 GOP ticket, it’s not a question of whether, but when, Republicans here will move to further marginalize our already vulnerable friends, neighbors, and work colleagues. Indeed, as the past few months have shown us it’s already happening.
The fight’s not over. Not by a long shot.
John L. Micek is the editor-in-chief of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, which first published this commentary.