One of the best and most succinct explanations I've ever heard of abortion politics in this country came from my friend Dr. Doug. Although he put it more eloquently than this, the short version is that conservatives will never make abortion illegal, because they'll lose their favorite and most effective wedge issue. Instead, they'll simply keep passing absurd restriction laws to placate their base, while never actually taking the action of getting fully rid of abortion (why else would all those idiotic single issue voters vote Republican then?). History seems to back up the point, as there have been numerous situations in which Republicans had enough control of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches that they could have pushed through a repeal of Roe v. Wade, passed some sort of ban, or both.
And, as Doug would go on to point out, you just need to do a little thought experiment to see the point. If abortion were illegal, who would be able to get access to abortions? Women who live in major metropolitan areas (who could more easily find/access illegal abortions) and women who have the resources to travel somewhere and pay for a legal abortion. Then think about who can currently get an abortion in America -- women who live in major metropolitan areas or who can afford to travel.
Boom. Effectively illegal abortion while keeping it technically legal and thus a juicy wedge issue.
But the second part of that argument is why it's such a juicy wedge issue. Well, the short version, if you've been living in a cave on Mars with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears, is that there a fuckton (scientifically speaking) of people who are very against abortion. Like somehow quixotically believing it's ok to murder abortion providers levels of against abortion.
And one of the favorite tactics of these anti-abrtion crazies is to follow this Republican strategy (albeit for different reasons) -- if you can't make it illegal, do the next best thing and try to create an environment in which no one feels safe doing it. So in addition to committing acts of murder and terrorism (by far the most likely type of terrorism is this nation, though you wouldn't know that from watching the news or listening to our government), anti-abortion crazies try to make life really, really uncomfortable for abortion providers and those who support them.
One of their most tried and true strategies for this is to find out the personal contact information of abortion providers and pester them 24 hours a day simply by giving that info to their giant lists of batshit crazy people and having said crazies repeatedly call and threaten these abortion providers at all hours.
In a funny twist of harassment-as-political weapon in the abortion argument, one provider has turned the table on the crazies. After the crazies crossed the line by showing up at his 11 year old daughter's school, Todd Stave starting taking down the names and contact info of as many people calling and harassing him as he could. He then organized a small, but rapidly growing, group of people (now called Voices of Choice) to call the crazies back, politely thank them for their prayers, and inform them that abortions are a necessary medical procedure and they're glad there's a safe and professional clinic at which they're performed. Such crazies can now expect somewhere in the area of 3,000 to 5,000 return calls after they threaten an abortion provider.
Obviously this isn't going to end the abortion debate or any such thing, but it does serve as yet another example of the cliche: one person's unhinged telephone threats are another person's freedom fighters, or something like that.