Where are all the pro-choice Republicans?

'Cause they don't seem to be in Alito's confirmation hearings.

Published January 17, 2006 10:11PM (EST)

On Jan. 13, I wrote about Newsweek writer Eleanor Clift's theory that overturning Roe v. Wade would pay political dividends for Democrats because the end of Roe would spur pro-choice Republicans to action and break up the GOP coalition. My take was that even if overturning Roe might eventually foment a pro-choice revolution, "eventually" isn't soon enough for millions of women who wouldn't have access to legal abortions in the interim. But what I missed in my earlier post was Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise asking Clift another important question: er, which pro-choice Republicans?

First of all, she writes, "anticipating the demise of Roe and finding the novel silver lining is a cottage industry in American political journalism." But also, she says, how pro-choice can these pro-choice Republicans be if the prospect of confirming an antiabortion Supreme Court justice doesn't bother them?

"There are no secret pro-choice Republicans. If you don't care enough about choice to oppose Alito, you just don't care. At this point, even 'out' pro-choice Republicans like Arlen Specter don't care enough about Roe to vote against Alito."

"If Clift's legions of secret pro-choice Republicans aren't speaking up now," Beyerstein concludes, "it's safe to assume they don't exist."

Of course, there are pro-choice Republicans. But there sure don't seem to be any making noise on the Hill. Which means that, despite its flaws, we may be testing out Clift's theory sometime soon.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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