Featured Image
 Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

December 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As friends and foes of abortion prepare for battle in next year’s elections, a new feature by the left-wing New York Times blames strategic divisions and communication failures within the abortion lobby for the so-called “right to choose” seeming less secure than it once seemed.

On December 1, the Times published a story based on interviews with more than 50 pro-abortion activists and abortion industry insiders on the “new reality” of abortion “access” being “more vulnerable than it has been in decades,” thanks to a wave of statewide bans on most abortions and a Supreme Court that might uphold them thanks to President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.

A variety of factors contributed to the current situation, they say, from failing to appreciate Trump’s chances of winning the White House to paying too little attention to state-level battles once written off as irrelevant thanks to the intervention of a left-wing federal judiciary.

“Looking at the prior presidential administration, there was a perception that everything is fine,” Kwajelyn Jackson, executive director of the Atlanta-based Feminist Women’s Health Center, said. “We were screaming at the top of our lungs, everything is not fine, please pay attention.”

Former Planned Parenthood chief Leana Wen, ousted this past summer over her less-political bent and stated goal of defining the abortion giant as about more than abortion, is emblematic of this divide. Wen’s interim replacement, Alexis McGill Johnson, has framed herself as more of a political fighter attuned to the “jeopardy” facing abortion “access.”

The report quotes individual abortion facility owners who paint the heads of national organizations as having been oblivious to their financial challenges or difficulty conveying pro-abortion messages in a convincing way. “They are never threatened, so they never have to think the way we do,” complained Red River Women’s Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker in North Dakota.

“Few state activists want to question Planned Parenthood or its strategy publicly, especially when they are allies in court and some receive financial support from the national organization,” according to the report. Yet “some worry that Planned Parenthood and other national groups have overly prioritized politics and power instead of patients and providers.”

Pro-life activists welcomed signs of disarray within the abortion lobby’s camp. “They have fallen from that pinnacle of power to this,” Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance said. “I hope they continue doing what they are doing. We’ll run the table in 2020.”

Both sides’ fortunes could change just as quickly depending the outcome of next year’s election and the performance of the Supreme Court, however. The president has taken numerous pro-life actions such as denying Title X funds to abortion groups, but without a cooperative Congress to pass legislation most of those have been administrative actions that could be unilaterally reversed by a Democrat successor.

The current Supreme Court makeup is an even bigger question mark. During his confirmation hearings, Brett Kavanaugh expressed significant respect for Roe v. Wade’s status as precedent – so much so that pro-abortion Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine specifically cited her confidence that Kavanaugh would uphold Roe as part of why she supported him.

Last year, he joined the court’s liberal wing in declining to hear Kansas and Louisiana’s appeals defending their efforts to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, a decision that Justice Clarence Thomas excoriated as “abdicating our judicial duty.” His February opinion in support of Louisiana’s Act 620 rejected abortionists’ complaint on technical grounds, but appeared to concede their underlying premises about the “undue burden” standard for abortion restrictions.

Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorscuh is also uncertain (he gave similar answers on precedent but has since been a generally reliable conservative), but even if both of Trump’s nominees prove to be pro-life, they would not be enough to cancel out Chief Justice John Roberts if he decides to uphold abortion precedent.

Roberts, who also expressed respect for Roe as “a little more than settled” during his own confirmation hearings, has disillusioned conservatives ever since he voted in 2012 and 2015 to uphold Obamacare using intensely controversial reasoning. Roberts also voted with the court’s liberal wing in the aforementioned Medicaid case.