SURVEYS ROUTINELY FIND THAT most Americans -- 55% to 67%, depending on the poll -- want abortion to be legal and available. Pro-choice sentiment rises as high as 75% when considering whether pregnancy would endanger the woman's health or was the result of incest or rape.
Those are numbers that all conservatives should mull as some of them cheer South Dakota's ban on all abortions except in cases where the mother's life is endangered. The law would force a woman to go through pregnancy and childbirth even if it were the result of a traumatic sexual assault or if her health would be permanently impaired.
The law is not scheduled to take effect until July, and it will doubtless be blocked for far longer as opponents challenge it, possibly all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That, of course, is what its proponents want -- a rehearing of Roe vs. Wade. It's a one-shot legal gamble with ramifications that will reverberate beyond South Dakota.
There will almost certainly be another presidential election before this case could get to the high court, which has two new members believed to be more sympathetic to antiabortion arguments. So although one looming possibility is that abortion rights may be stripped from almost all women, another is that many voters will turn away from the Republican Party.