Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts appear steeled to overturn Roe and return this most divisive issue since slavery to the states, where it resided until January 1973.
And John Paul Stevens, the oldest and perhaps most pro-choice justice at 88, is a likely retiree in the next four years. And there is a possibility Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 75, a survivor of cancer, could depart as did Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Thus, in the first term of the next president, there is a strong probability that one or two of the most pro-Roe justices will leave the bench. Replacement of even one of these two liberal activists with a jurist who has a Scalia-Roberts-Alito-Thomas record on the U.S. appellate court could initiate a challenge to Roe, and its rapid reversal.
Not only would that decision be a stunning perhaps irreversible victory for the pro-life cause, it would return the issue of abortion to Congress and the states, where numerous legislators are prepared to curtail if not outlaw abortion on demand in America.
Overturning Roe would re-energize the right-to-life movement in every state. In some, like California and New York, where it could not wholly prevail, some restrictions -- i.e., no abortions after viability -- might be imposed. Requirements such as for parental notification before a teenager has an abortion and that pregnant women be informed of what the procedure means and the trauma that often follows could be written into law.
If Roe goes, all things are possible. If Roe remains, all is lost.
Is there any certainty that John McCain, who set up the Gang of 14 to give Democrats veto over the most conservative of Bush judges, would nominate an Alito or a Roberts? No.
But there is a certainty that a President Obama would move swiftly to replace a Stevens or Ginsberg, or any other justice who steps downs or dies, with a pro-choice jurist. For support for Roe v. Wade is a litmus test in today's Democratic Party, where the right to an abortion has been elevated to the highest rank in the Constitution.
Bottom line. If Obama-Biden wins, Roe is forever. If McCain-Palin wins, Roe could be gone by the decade's end.
As Catholics are the swing voters who likely will decide this election, one awaits the moral counsel of the Catholic hierarchy. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.