Despite what critics of Roe would have us believe, this would not be a triumph of democracy. Only 18 percent of the country wants to ban abortion outright. That number is undoubtedly higher in states with the most draconian restrictions on the procedure. But how much higher? As we see with distressing frequency in the Trump era, Republicans often advance policies in order to please the party’s ideologically extreme and highly motivated activists regardless of whether those policies attract support among the unengaged and often ideologically muddled majority. On abortion, this (mostly silent) majority is uncomfortable with late-term abortions but wants to keep the procedure legal and easily available for women during the first trimester.
And that brings us to the likely feminist response to a reversal of Roe. Do conservatives really think that taking away a constitutional right that women have enjoyed for nearly half a century will lead pro-choice women to shrug and say, “Oh well, I guess we just need to get to work in lobbying state legislatures?” Hardly. They will be outraged — and justifiably so. How often in American history has the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right and then summarily reversed itself to erase that right? Such actions are exceedingly rare, and for very good reason, since they are an appalling affront to a very large group of citizens.