Overruling Roe likely wouldn’t generate the female backlash that feminists expect

It’s possible that the stability over time, and the gender gap, are an artifact of Roe. The Supreme Court currently prevents legislatures from doing much to curtail abortion rights much before 24 weeks gestation, which means voters don’t really have to think hard about what law they’re willing to live under. They’re free to make largely symbolic statements about some ideal state — yes to abortion in the hardest circumstances, while remaining uncomfortable with abortions procured to avoid the disruptions of a healthy pregnancy resulting from consensual sex.

If Roe goes, voters will have to think hard about whether they’re really willing to deny an abortion to a woman whose marriage or finances might be strained to the breaking point by the burden of a child. And it’s very possible that women will think harder about those questions than men, and come up with very different answers.

But it’s also possible that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, and throws the issue back to the states, the subsequent legislative wrangling will reveal that the answers to those questions rest less on gender than values — or lifestyle. Are you a college-educated professional who must time pregnancies exquisitely to optimize a career, or are you a low-wage hourly worker for whom other considerations matter more? Are you religious or secular? Conservative or progressive? And when confronted with the fundamental unfairness of mammalian reproduction, do you worry more about a woman’s bodily autonomy, or the potential life that is ended when an abortion is performed?