Politicized SCOTUS losing legitimacy after Roe v. Wade reversal
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. A Quick Take for you on the back of this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade. For 50 years now, abortion until the viability of the fetus, around 23 weeks of pregnancy, has been legal in the entirety of the United States. That ends today.
Important to look at how Americans view abortion. It's actually a very mixed picture, depending on the question that you ask. Almost all Americans, about 90%, believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances and not in others. So, I mean, frankly broadly the compromise that's been the law of the land for the last 50 years hasn't been completely happy for anyone, but has been generally a position that most of the population could get behind. A strong majority of Democrats and Republicans do agree with that formulation, that abortion should be legal in some circumstances and illegal in other circumstances.
About 60% of Americans, believe it should be legal in all or most cases, 40% think it should be illegal in all or most cases. And that of course is much more divided, Dem versus Republican, red versus blue, young versus old, and also male versus female. Less than one in 10 Americans think it should be illegal in all cases without exception. About 20% think it should be legal in all cases without exception. In other words, the extreme positions are not accepted by the vast majority of Americans. Now that of course is not where we are about to head as the country becomes much more divided and how abortion is treated depends completely on what state you happen to live in.
Now, let's talk more practicality. Most Americans think that abortion should be legal in the first trimester. It turns out that's 93% of all abortions that actually occur in the United States. In other words, people have been aligned with what's been actually happening. Leave aside the policy of the country. Now the impact here does not make abortion illegal in the United States. I assume most people watching this know this, but just to be certain, audience from all over the world, it kicks the determination of the legality of abortion and how it is regulated to the individual states. It does drastically reduce abortion access across much of the country, particularly the South and the Midwest. As of now, abortion is illegal in 13 states. It wasn't yesterday. Another 13 are going to heavily restrict or ban abortion soon. So really what the end of Roe v. Wade means is that abortion rights are going to be a split about 50-50 in terms of states in the country and in terms of women of childbearing age.
I want to be clear abortion bans, according to all major studies that have been done, do not reduce the incidence of abortion. You see just as many abortions, if you make it illegal, it's just that it makes it much more dangerous. So if you care about outcomes, this is clearly bad for the country overall. On the other hand, the danger around getting an abortion when abortions are banned, overwhelmingly falls on the shoulders of poor women and women of color. These are people who don't have the means to travel or to leave work and to otherwise get around the restrictions. And so as a consequence, policy decision-makers going forward won't care as much. That's tragic and painful to think about, but it does of course reflect reality.
66% of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And this is politically important because Republican party, which is much more popular right now than the Democrats as we head into midterms has to now run on this issue as they're going to be responsible for what the outcomes will now be. And in the same way that a lot of Democrats have been getting trounced because they are pulled to a much more progressive position than most of the country wants to see on issues like critical race theory and transgender rights, most Republicans are going to get pulled to the right by a strong conservative voice on abortion bans that is not where most of the country wants to be. And that will undermine them. And we will see that play out in a closer Senate race for midterms in November though, the House is probably still going to have a wave election, I feel that wave fairly strongly for the Republicans.
Now, the one thing that could change that is if we see lots of violence by pro-choice extremists, that could turn the tide against them. And I do expect there's at least going to be some of this, by the way, some 30 pro-life abortion pregnancy counseling centers have already been physically attacked since the leak of the opinion, the Alito opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade a couple months ago. And of course, we also saw a barely thwarted attempt on the life of Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh. I mean basically one US Marshall away from Kavanaugh being assassinated in his bed.
The biggest deal here is that we're going to see a lot more polarization in the country. The Supreme Court has been seen as much more politicized. It's losing its legitimacy at record levels. We've seen of course over the past couple decades, confirmation hearings, which used to be everyone coming together when the person was qualified. Now it's us versus them, rank Democrat vote, rank Republican vote, and almost no crossing of lines across the party. We saw McConnell refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland in the last year of Obama's second term. We saw the unprecedented leaking of the SCOTUS opinion on this Roe v. Wade overturn case. We've seen demonstrations outside the houses of Supreme Court justices clearly illegal, but called on and tolerated by Democrat leaders, all of this. And earlier this week, 25% of Americans said that they have confidence in the Supreme Court. That is an all-time low until next week. Those numbers will surely go down.
So that's my view of where we are today, a sad day for the United States. And it's going to be painful to watch what the implications and the consequences this will be over the coming weeks and months, but that's where we are. And I'm happy at least to have a chance to chat about it with you. And be well, have a good weekend. Do what you can. Talk to you soon.