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RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.: Supreme Court leak gives the nation much to think about

I’m pro-choice — with guardrails.

I support a woman’s right to choose whether to end a pregnancy. As a man, it would be presumptuous and inappropriate to say otherwise.

Yet I also like the idea of restrictions because, in the United States, abortion should be safe, legal and rare — as the saying goes — but not easy. For instance, I support waiting periods, laws that require parents be notified when teens seek the procedure and a ban on late-term abortions. The taking of a human life should not be treated lightly.

In response to a leak of a draft majority Supreme Court opinion by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights — many Americans don’t know what to think.

Here are 10 things I’ve been thinking about:

■ Being pro-choice doesn’t mean accepting that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided. It was not. There is no constitutional right to abortion in the Fourth or 14th amendments, and the trimester scheme created out of whole cloth by the majority was always a giveaway that the decision was built on sand. Sooner or later, the tide was going to roll in and destroy it.

■ A Washington Post/ABC News poll taken before the leak found that 54 percent of Americans think Roe v. Wade should be upheld while just 28 percent believe it should be overturned. Thus the high court and the GOP are both out of step with most of America. That suggests that, in the midterm elections, Republicans are headed for a pummeling.

■ It’s not because Americans vote based on abortion, but because many of us don’t like extremism — on the left or the right — and we’ll fight against it. Last year, it was defunding the police, open borders and cancel culture that Americans frowned upon. This year, it could be the Supreme Court scrapping Roe v. Wade.

■ Republicans should not need this sermon. A party that has spent the past few decades scolding women and people of color about taking responsibility for their actions will soon get the chance to show us how it is done. GOP, it’s time to walk it like you talk it. You want to wipe your feet on the view of more than half of America? You’re going to pay the piper.

■ A Supreme Court precedent that is nearly 50 years old, and has withstood dozens of legal challenges, ought to be — with very few exceptions — respected and left alone. At least three generations of Americans have grown up with women having a federal right to an abortion. Upsetting that precedent would be catastrophic to society.

■ Abortion is not a top issue for African Americans and Latinos, and it never has been. This may have something to do with the fact that Planned Parenthood — an organization started by Margaret Sanger, part of the eugenics movement and aligned with racist beliefs — has done a poor job over the years of doing effective outreach to people of color in ways that aren’t condescending.

■ Chief Justice John Roberts, who has previously been reluctant to overturn laws or override precedent especially for reasons that are brazenly political (see: Affordable Care Act), is the jurist to watch. We could have a 5-3-1 decision with Roberts writing his own nuanced opinion that, while still pro-life, doesn’t go nearly as far as the one written by Alito.

■ As the abortion debate moves from the federal arena to the states, one practical effect of the shift will be to make the blue states bluer and the red states redder. Meanwhile, the purple states will become more contentious, and the arguments in those places more intense now that there will be much more on the line for state lawmakers.

■ The culture war isn’t just for conservatives anymore. Liberals have opened a front. Given that voters are more likely to get fired up to go to the polls because of critical race theory or masking policies in schools than they are because of bread and butter issues like inflation or gas prices, those on the left needed a weapon of their own. Now they have it.

■ Take it from a journalist who has been on the job for 33 years: If you work for a right-wing cable news outfit and you consider yourself both a journalist and a conservative, but now your GOP instincts lead you to condemn a “leak” of a public document by a government entity because it puts Republicans in a ticklish spot, then guess what? You’re no journalist.

Give it some thought, America.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is crimscribe@icloud.com. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.

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