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Will Roe leak lead to action at the ballot box?

Supreme Court Abortion Security
J. Scott Applewhite
The Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, as security measure are enhanced on the perimeter following protests sparked by news that the court might overturn cases that guarantee abortions.

The politics of abortion are becoming increasingly intense. But, they don't always play out as expected.

Back in 2019, Republicans believed they had a winning issue when then-Governor Ralph Northam went on live radio and appeared to talk about aborting a baby after it had been delivered. But they lost that year in a blue wave. Then last year, Democrats believed they had an ace card with then-candidate Glenn Youngkin was caught on tape admitting he was hiding his anti-abortion agenda. But they lost in a red wave.

David Ramadan is a former Republican member of the House of Delegates who's now at George Mason University's Schar School who says this time is different.

"The distinction now is if the Supreme Court, as it seems likely, is going to overturn Roe versus Wade, now the issue becomes truly an election issue in November again," Ramadan explains. "Not just a brochure issue or a litmus test issue, but a real election issue coming up."

The real fallout will be later this summer when the actual Supreme Court decision comes out, says Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett.

"Democrats are raising a lot of money. A lot of women are getting mobilized. There's a lot of energy and anger from women about this," Tribbett says. "But that will all either snowball to larger or disappear depending on what the Supreme Court actually does."

The purpose of the leak may have been to change the outcome of the Supreme Court decision, he says. So the influence on Virginia politics this year – and next year – won't be known for some time.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.