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A look at the historic realignment in U.S. politics since Roe v. Wade ...

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In fact, it's hard to believe today how little appreciation there was at the time for the decision's eventual impact and importance.Yet it is no exaggeration to say that since Roe, American politics have never been the same.In the 1960s, abortion had gone from being a whisper in private to a topic for heated public argument. It took months and years for the anti-abortion movement to fully form, to organize and gain political power – first in state legislatures and in Congress.Along the way, the movement helped elect four Republican presidents who would in turn appoint all of the Supreme Court justices now expected to overturn Roe. Each is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which began in law schools in the years after Roe. It has flourished, eventually producing hundreds of federal judges, most of those currently serving appointed in the one term of former President Trump.Today, observers tend to agree that this impending decision about Roe, like the one in 1973, has the potential to energize millions who have not been as politically active. By the time voters got to the polls for the midterms of 1974, abortion was far from uppermost on most minds.In 1976, the Democratic Party nominated Jimmy Carter, who was personally opposed to abortion but also opposed a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe. The Republican Party nominated incumbent President Gerald Ford, who opposed abortion and supported a constitutional amendment, although his wife and vice president were known to see the issue differently.Both parties' platforms then acknowledged with respect the division of opinion within their own ranks, though the platforms diverged on the need for a constitutional amendment. Many of these were recent converts to Republicanism drawn to Reagan, following the lead of some of their favorite TV preachers such as Jerry Falwell.Reagan was able to sound less harsh about abortion, while still stressing the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe. In office, Reagan would focus on national security, cutting taxes and restraining federal spending. But he was able to convince many, if not all, that his conversion on the issue was genuine.More important, he convinced them he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe. This was a key when he, like Reagan, broke from the GOP candidate pack in his first South Carolina primary, which by 2016 was even more dominated by social conservatives than it had been in Reagan's day.And unlike others, Trump continued to accentuate the issue in the fall campaign – describing the abortion procedure in lurid terms and saying women who had abortions "should face some sort of punishment." While most Americans might have found Trump's language repugnant, it caught attention and signposted once again Trump's promise regarding Roe and the courts.Democrats, for their part, have doubled down repeatedly on the side of abortion rights, linking them to their support of "human rights" and of groups whose rights had been long suppressed – African Americans and other minority groups, women seeking to vote and enjoy full property rights, LGBTQ people and immigrants.Republicans at all levels have often seen the Democrats' devotion to these causes as an opportunity. The 11 states that once seceded, and the states that border them, were the bedrock base for Democrats in the Electoral College and in both chambers of Congress for nearly all the nation's first 200 years.That powerful pattern had begun to change before Roe. Some Southern states had voted for Republican presidential candidates as far back as 1928 (when Democrats first nominated a Catholic, Al Smith).But more a more permanent shift began in the 1960s, after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it gained momentum in the era after Roe.Many Southern whites regarded both that 1964 act and that 1973 decision as attacks on states' rights.

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