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Is America ready for post-Roe politics?

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Roe V. Wade
Stephen Parlato of Boulder, Colo., holds a sign that reads "Hands Off Roe!!!" outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, on Nov. 30, 2021.Andrew Harnik / AP

WASHINGTON — We have two questions as the U.S. Supreme Court today considers oral arguments in the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in the last three decades.

One, does the new 6-3 conservative court rule against a constitutional right for women to have abortions in this country?

And two, if so, what does American politics look like in a post-Roe world? Especially in these hyper-polarized times?

For nearly the last 50 years, Roe has provided stability to an uncomfortable and controversial issue.

But if you get rid of Roe, every single state will need a position on fetus viability, weeks when you can/can’t have an abortion, parental notification, sonograms and possible exceptions (like on rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life).

And every single primary and general election could be dominated by those specific positions — all in a nation where a majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and where even more say they support Roe v Wade.

In addition, our August 2021 NBC News poll found that much of the country appears to be in the middle of abortion debate, with 23 percent of Americans saying abortion should be legal “most of the time,” and another 34 percent saying it should be illegal “with exceptions.”

So striking down Roe — or even rolling it back — could very well create political chaos.

In a way, it reminds us of the Obamacare debates: Republicans wanted to repeal the health care law, but they struggled to pass something to replace it.

As the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson recently wrote, Roe has been “an important piece of the duct tape” that has held this country together over the last 50 years.

More from Robinson: “If states such as Texas pass laws that effectively eliminate all abortions, those with the means will travel to other states to terminate their pregnancies. Many poor people will risk their health by seeking illegal abortions. Some doctors will most likely risk imprisonment. There will be intense pressure for pro-choice federal legislation, and abortion will be a hot-button issue in every congressional district.”

“As if our politics needed more heat.”

When you were young

Meanwhile, Harvard’s Youth Poll of Americans ages 18-29 finds a majority (52 percent) believing that the U.S. democracy is failing or in trouble, with only 7 percent viewing the democracy as healthy.

That is troubling.

What’s more, just 46 percent of these young Americans approve of Biden’s job as president.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

3: The number of people killed when a Michigan teen shot 11 people at a suburban Detroit high school.

5,123: The number of new, daily coronavirus infections in South Korea reported Wednesday, a record for the nation.

13: The number of FDA advisory board members who voted in favor of recommending Merck’s experimental coronavirus antiviral pill, with 10 voting against it. Now the decision is up to the FDA.

48,567,081: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 104,984 more since yesterday morning.)

785,159: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,365 since yesterday morning.)

460,773,508: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,538,717 since yesterday morning.)

41,126,064: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 878,174 since yesterday morning.)

59.4 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

71.1 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

What’s different about Dr. Oz’s candidacy

Celebrities running for high political office isn’t anything new. What is new, however, are celebrities like Dr. Oz (who announced his bid for Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday) and Matthew McConaughey (who took a pass on Texas governor) having no previous real activity in politics before considering their bids for office.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, sponsored ballot initiatives in California before he ran for governor in 2003; he also was married into a very political family at the time.

Al Franken engaged in national politics before running for Minnesota’s Senate seat.

And even Donald Trump was a key endorser of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential year before his presidential bid the next cycle.

But Dr. Oz’s previous activity in national politics? He administered that controversial physical to Trump in the final two months of the ’16 election. And he served on then-President Trump’s sports council.

That’s it.

As we’ve said before, the race to succeed Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is wide open — for both Republicans and Democrats.

But what stands out about Dr. Oz – besides his celebrity — is just how little he has engaged in American politics until now.

By the way, is Oprah going to comment about Dr. Oz’s bid?

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows writes in his book, reported by The Guardian, that former President Trump tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of his first debate with future President Biden, although a second test came back negative. Trump was diagnosed with Covid just days after that debate.

The White House is weighing new international travel restrictions in response to the new omicron coronavirus variant.

CNN has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo after new revelations about how he helped his brother, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to sexual misconduct allegations.

City Councilman Andre Dickens is Atlanta’s mayor-elect after a victory in last night’s election.