Lost in all the chatter about Democratic Vice President Joe Biden’s over-the-top laughter and Republican Veep nominee Paul Ryan’s perplexed look during their debate last week was the revelation that Roe v. Wade could well hang in the balance.
If Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, and his running mate, Ryan, win the Nov. 6 general election, the 1970 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal will be in jeopardy.
Here’s what Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin and an opponent of abortion in all circumstances, answered when moderator Martha Raddatz raised the issue:
“ … if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”
But it was when Raddatz asked if Americans who believe that abortion should remain legal should worry about a Romney-Ryan administration, he replied: “We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.”
That comment could be dismissed as wishful thinking on the part of a strident anti-abortion advocate, but for this reality: Whoever is president over the next four years will, in all probability, get to appoint one or two justices to the Supreme Court, given the age of a couple of the justices on the bench.
If Romney is president, he undoubtedly will nominate individuals who share his political ideology. While presidents and presidential candidates insist that there is no litmus test for selecting Supreme Court justices, it would be naïve to believe that a conservative Republican would tap a liberal Democrat. Likewise, no Democratic president would pick a conservative Republican.
Vice President Biden, who like Ryan is a practicing Roman Catholic, said during the debate that while he personally opposes abortion, “… I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that.”
It will be interesting to see if Romney, who seems to be embracing a moderate position on abortion even though he is pro-life, and President Obama, who believes in a woman’s right to choose, will be asked about this highly emotional issue during Tuesday’s town hall debate.