Televangelist and right wing agitator Pat Robertson said on his show “The 700 Club” on Wednesday that he believes Alabama’s new ban on abortions is “extreme” and said the state has “gone too far.”
But don’t be fooled. Robertson is one of the figures who helped guide our country into this dystopia, and he doesn’t regret it one bit.
It turns out Robertson doesn’t think that the Alabama law has “gone too far” because he believes in reproductive rights for women. No, he’s just worried that the backlash to the law and its eschewing of incrementalism might harm the chances of banning abortion in the U.S. once and for all.
“They want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is I don’t think that’s the case I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” Robertson told his viewers on Wednesday. (It’s worth noting that the program description also promises to tell you how “essential oils can help you lose weight, boost your immune system and fight off disease.”)
“God bless them, they’re trying to do something,” Robertson said of Alabama legislators.
Robertson tried to play his comments off as a “both sidesing” of abortion, bringing up Hillary Clinton’s positions on abortion as equally “extreme.” But it’s clear he’d love a total ban, and simply is worried that the Alabama bill isn’t the way to get there.
Robertson believes in an incremental approach to banning abortion. He has good reason: that approach has worked extremely well for the religious right over the past decades, as they have slowly chipped away at reproductive rights across the country. Even before the new bans in Georgia and Alabama, many women across the country lived in states where it was already extremely difficult to get an abortion legally.
Alabama’s new law, which is expected to be contested in court, bans all abortions except in the case of serious threat to the mother’s health. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest. The law was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier today.
Some experts on abortion law believe Robertson may be right, that the backlash to the Alabama law will overwhelm its potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“For Alabama legislators, maybe it’s good for them and their own constituents,” Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University College of Law told the Washington Post. “If you’re looking at national antiabortion strategy, it might’ve been a misfire.”
Others say the Supreme Court is more likely to take up a case that proposes less extreme bans on abortion, potentially lowering the window in which states could make bans on abortion to after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Under Roe v. Wade, states may not ban abortion outright if the fetus is not viable, which is usually interpreted as around 24 weeks.
Richard Garnett, a University of Notre Dame law professor, told the Post that the Supreme Court “might well prefer to first consider less sweeping abortion regulations and to uphold them even under the current doctrine.”
Elizabeth Nash, senior state issue manager at nonprofit research group the Guttmacher Institute, says it’s likely that the Supreme Court will take multiple passes at restricting reproductive rights.
“We expect abortion rights to be undermined,” Nash told the Post. “The court will have multiple bites at the apple.”