Even if it wins its long-desired victory at the high court and more anti-abortion legislation becomes possible, a pro-life cause joined to a party that can’t win female votes and seems to have no time for women will never be able to achieve those legislative goals, or at least never outside a very few, very conservative states. And having that long-awaited victory accomplished by a male judicial appointee confirmed under a cloud of #MeToo suspicion seems like a good way to cement a perception that’s fatal to the pro-life movement’s larger purposes — the perception that you can’t be pro-woman and pro-life.

This points to a conclusion that’s certainly unfair to Kavanaugh if he’s innocent, but nobody ever said that politics would be fair. If his accuser testifies publicly and credibly, if her allegation isn’t undermined by a week of scrutiny and testimony, if it remains unprovable but squarely in the realm of plausibility, then all the abortion opponents who were supporting him should hope that his nomination is withdrawn — with, ideally, a woman nominated in his place.

That would be a political gamble in its own right, of course, and one that the Trump White House will take only under duress. But if Kavanaugh is a qualified judge, no judicial nominee is indispensable. And for a movement that risked so much to make these nominations possible, there is no reason to compound that risk unless this nominee can find a way to decisively persuade the country, however unfair that burden may seem, that he did not treat Christine Blasey Ford with the cruelty alleged this week.