Grim Specter of Things to Come

The first battle in the new war against Roe

How far conservative Republicans are willing to push their game—and how many rules they break in the process—could well determine how the next four years will unfurl as well as whether women retain access to safe and legal abortion. While conservatives are demanding payback and claiming responsibility for the Republican victory, the majority of Americans do not share their views. The Republicans know this, of course. They're the ones who proudly trotted out pro-choice moderates like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, and George Pataki for their convention. Bush knows this, too. After all, he supported Specter in a close primary over Patrick Toomey, a staunch conservative and opponent of abortion.

Though the president's own views are closer to Toomey's, Bush, who was hoping to win Pennsylvania's electoral votes, made a strategic decision to back Specter. "He needed a man who has links to moderates and Democrats," says Tanya Melich, political consultant and author of The Republican War Against Women. With a disastrous war still unfolding in Iraq, an exploding deficit, and half the country feeling alienated and betrayed, the Republicans still have plenty of political reasons to need support beyond the religious right. Whether or not they get it will likely depend on whether they pursue the witch hunt of women's new best friend, Arlen Specter.

Senator Arlen Specter is emerging as an unlikely hero for reproductive rights.
photo: Frank Wiese/The Morning Call,
Senator Arlen Specter is emerging as an unlikely hero for reproductive rights.

Sharon Lerner is a senior fellow at the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano Graduate School, New School University.

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