A Supreme Court Abortion Fight Could Come in Time for 2016 Elections


A likely presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has already staked his conservative credibility on backing a 20-week ban on abortions in the Senate, mirroring one already passed in the House of Representatives.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another Republican who may take a second stab at the presidency, spearheaded his state's push to pass their 20-week ban this summer.

Adding to the potential political bonfire, Democrats hope the 2016 Republican nominee will be challenged by a Democratic woman, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which would only help solidify a Democratic narrative that the GOP is pursuing a war on women.

All of this comes after 40 years of relative tranquility on the abortion front.

Now, abortion-rights advocates see a deluge of coordinated attacks on abortion rights -- many of which bear similar markings of a strategy to exploit potential fault lines in public support for abortion.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll Thursday found that while a majority supports legal abortion in all or most cases, 56 percent of respondents preferred to have abortion legal up to 20 weeks, compared to 27 percent who preferred 24 weeks.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll reported a similar finding -- more said they would support a 20-week ban than those who would oppose it.

But in some states, like Arkansas and North Dakota, where bans are in place for 12 and six weeks, respectively, abortion rights advocates say there is no question that the intent is to outlaw abortion entirely.

"The chipping away has definitely been their strategy, but I think it's become more extreme and more oblique recently, because passing a ban at six weeks is not oblique -- it's not a chipping away," Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told ABC News.

That's one reason why Peter Hoffa, who co-wrote a book on the Roe v. Wade decision, believes that the court may restrict or restrain abortion rights, but is unlikely to do away with it entirely, as some anti-abortion advocates hope they might.

Hoffa said Justice Kennedy is has indicated an unwillingness to entirely undo a decision that women have "based so many of their reproductive choices on."

However, Hoffa noted: "It might be more narrow than it is."

CORRECTION: The first statewide 20-week abortion ban was enacted in Nebraska, not North Dakota.

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