Donald Trump doesn’t care about the unborn child. In 1999 he spoke out as an advocate of abortion. Still, he is now nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Barrett is a devout Catholic and therefore finds the soul of the unborn child very important. She takes that belief into her work, and is a vocal opponent of Roe versus Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in all states. If Barrett is effectively appointed, there will be a conservative majority in the Supreme Court for the first time that can reverse Roe versus Wade and other judgments that protect equality. Barrett has also spoken out for the right to armor, against Obamacare and gay marriage.
I hear thousands of Americans think desperately: Had Ruth Bader Ginsburg, feminist icon and progressive judge whose seat would fill Barrett, but waited to die until after the election. Unfortunately. Now the progressive Americans still have a ray of hope: When Obama also had to replace a judge a few weeks before the election, the Republican majority in the Senate stopped that. But again, unfortunately. Rather than being consistent, the same politicians who then felt that Obama could not appoint a judge so close to the election are now planning that Trump is allowed to do so.
The Democrats may be so loudly accusing them of hypocrisy, but the technical discussion about appointing a judge is over the heads of most voters, who have long forgotten 2016. The senators know that. They rub their hands: the Supreme Court has more long-term influence on the daily lives of Americans than an elected president. Judges are appointed for life.
If Barrett becomes a judge, there will be a conservative court for decades to come. So there is a very good chance that Roe versus Wade will die. When that happens, it is up to the states to decide whether abortion is still legal in their territory. Many conservative administrators cannot wait to criminalize abortion in their state. According to Planned Parenthood, 25 million women could lose access to abortion. This affects poor women – in the states that are usually black – women the hardest: they cannot afford to travel to another state to have an abortion, they run a greater risk of being fired during their pregnancy and still fall deeper into poverty. Everything for the unborn child. But you don’t hear the conservative politicians about concrete support measures for those unwanted children and their mothers.
Back to Trump, who – as is often the case – turns out to be a moral weathercock. Pro life, pro choice: he probably doesn’t care much personally. But abortion traditionally mobilizes many voters in the very conservative, religious parts of the United States. Moreover, he is indebted. In a revealing interview with The Daily Marjorie Dannenfelser, lobbyist against abortion, said bluntly: her movement got Trump in the saddle in 2016. And that, she says triumphantly, he knows. Dannenfelser was initially skeptical because of his past pro-abortion statements, but she says they had good conversations. They struck a cynical deal: If Dannenfelser and her allies got conservative families to vote for Trump, he would only appoint judges she approved. Amy Coney Barrett also featured prominently on her pro life list.
Dannenfelser has a huge network, which was able to effectively convince many voters who were in doubt about Trump. And Trump is adhering to his share of the deal. Out of gratitude, Dannenfelser will again campaign diligently in these elections. And even if he doesn’t get reelected, she rubs her hands: not even a new president can fire Supreme Court judges. The issue of abortion was pivotal in the conservative strategy of gaining control of the main legal body.
Reminds me of the government negotiations with us. CD&V refuses to join the Vivaldi coalition if a renewal of the abortion law is on the table – the term would be extended and abortion would be completely removed from criminal law. The other party chairpersons, whose members of parliament have been working on that new bill for months, agree. The coalition is fragile enough this way. Not important enough to make your paw stiff. Except for the opponents, abortion rights are often political small change, rarely a genuine concern.
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