There is, of course, another hypothetical means of amending the Constitution — the Article V power of convening constitutional conventions. On first glance this seems like a much more plausible approach than attempting to get something passed in both the House and the Senate. Republicans already control a majority of state legislatures — many of which are also home to that federally endangered, if not quite extinct, species, the pro-life Democrat. There at least they would have the upper hand. But we have never seen an Article V convention before, and there is no reason to think that such proceedings would not not be hijacked by balanced budget fanatics, campaign finance reformers, and kooks of all sorts. This might even happen by design. And the opportunity for horse-trading — a national “right-to-work” amendment in exchange for backing down on abortion, for instance — would be very tempting for some business-class Republicans. The convention is a blind alley.
So far as I can tell the single best means of outlawing abortion nationwide would be a ruling — perhaps one that comes after President Trump appoints someone like Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court — that overturns Roe broadly on the grounds that abortion is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This not only avoids the endless procedural wrangling associated with constitutional conventions; it would put behind the decision the full machinery of the executive branch with its vast powers of enforcement. It would also be symbolically fitting in the double sense that it would reverse the tendentious reasoning of Roe itself while calling to mind the original crimes against human life and dignity that inspired that amendment’s ratification at the barrel of a gun at the end of the darkest hour in this republic’s first century.