It’s a common belief – one I’ve endorsed in the past – that if Roe v Wade is overturned, the result won’t be the nationwide banning of abortion in the USA, but rather a return to state-by-state rules. So abortion might be outlawed in Alabama, but it would remain legal in New York, and so on.
But lately I’m not so sure. The “Partial Birth” Abortion ban is a nationwide ban, enacted by the federal congress. Yet no one seems to be making a serious case that the PBA ban is unconstitutional because Congress has no authority to pass a nationwide abortion ban. (It does show what hypocrites “federalist” Republicans are, though.)
Since the Republicans in Congress believe they have the right to ban PBAs nationwide, then they must believe they have the right to ban all abortions nationwide – if Roe is overturned.
Of course, Democrats in congress (along with the few moderate Republicans that still exist) would try to block such legislation – so even if Roe is overturned (which could only happen if two of the current pro-Roe justices are replaced, which could only happen if Bush wins re-election, and then only if two pro-Roe justices die or retire), it couldn’t happen unless the Republicans pick up a few more seats in the Senate.
That’s a whole lot of “ifs” and “unlesses”; none of them are unlikely on their own, but it’s probably not likely that all of them will take place. So I’m not saying it’s time to panic. I am saying, however, that the “if Roe is overturned it’ll be up to the states” argument may not be as ironclad as it once appeared.