Eric Johnston’s op-ed making the “pro-life” argument for Giuliani is awful in many respects. It repeats many plainly erroneous assertions common to Republican opponents of reproductive freedom: most notably, the claims that abortion would “leave abortion to the states” (a particularly ridiculous argument in light of Carhart II) and that “strict constructionism” actually means anything in constitutional interpretation other than “outcomes consistent with the political platform of the Republican Party.” And as my colleague Bean notes, the idea that Giuliani is OK with Roe being overruled is related to his broader commitment to democracy and constitutionalism is utterly risible. And yet, while he makes many bad arguments in its defense, the overall thesis that supporters of forced pregnancy can support Giuliani without short-term sacrifice is actually quite reasonable. The most important thing a President does with respect to legal abortion is to appoint judges, and the kind of statist reactionaries Giuliani would appoint to the Court would obviously be likely to vote to overturn or gut Roe. Nor would Giuliani be likely to veto any abortion regulation that could actually pass Congress during his tenure. And if Giuliani is the most electable candidate — and he probably is — it’s a better risk for anti-choicers than a Democratic President.
Over the long-term, though, I’m not so sure. One thing he doesn’t mention is that overturning Roe is extremely unpopular, and it’s not obvious why the leadership of one national party has to almost uniformly support a minority position (particularly one that, one suspects, is not a strong priority of most elite Republicans.) If Giuliani can win the nomination and then the election as a pro-choice Republican, this could undermine the power of the anti-choice lobby in the national GOP over the long haul.