Dobbs Court Overturns Roe v. Wade: What Now for the Pro-Life Movement?

The Supreme Court has officially ruled, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to overrule its holdings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. States are now free to pass laws banning or restricting abortion for the first time in almost 50 years. Millions of hours of work and activism have led to this moment, and it’s a pro-life victory worth celebrating.

But the work of the pro-life movement isn’t over just because Roe has been overturned. In this video, Josh Brahm explains the three primary tasks facing the pro-life movement in this new, post-Roe world, and he concludes with an admonition to pro-life people to celebrate this victory graciously and without confusing it for the finish line.

Script:

It’s official: the thing we’ve been waiting 50 years for has finally come to pass. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center has been decided, and Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land in the United States.

But even though this is a moment of celebration, we need to understand that the pro-life struggle is far from over; in some ways, it’s only just beginning.

[intro music]

By overturning Roe and Casey, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs has made it so that states are free to ban abortion. That doesn’t mean that abortion is now illegal; it means that each state gets to do what it wants. Several states have abortion bans that were previously ruled unconstitutional which are now in effect, while others have “trigger laws” that banned abortion as soon as Roe was overturned.

On the other hand, just as many states passed broad abortion laws enabling as much or more unrestricted access to abortion than what Roe required. States like New York, California, and Colorado will not only continue to provide abortions for the women in those states but will become destinations for “medical tourism” when people from other states seek abortions there.

In other words, legal abortion isn’t gone, and neither is the bitter divide among Americans about whether it should be a “human right” to kill unborn humans. This is a checkpoint for the pro-life movement; not the finish line.

There are three primary tasks for the pro-life movement in this new era in the fight against abortion.

The first task is to continue supporting women and families in difficult situations, especially when they are considering abortion as a response to pregnancy in challenging circumstances. Much of this work is already being done by pro-life people all across the country. Hundreds of pregnancy resource centers are, RIGHT NOW, providing vital assistance to women whose circumstances might lead them to consider abortion, both during pregnancy and after the birth of their children. PRCs will continue to provide these services as they face the challenge of continuing to scale when even more families need their help.

Sidewalk counseling will continue to be a means by which pro-life people can support women. Especially in the near future, sidewalk counselors can have effective conversations in which they save lives by giving women a chance to evaluate their options and decide that maybe they don’t want to go through with an abortion after all. In this post-Roe world, though, sidewalk counseling will probably take a different shape than it has in the last couple decades. Abortion facilities are going to consolidate in those states and cities most hospitable to abortion-on-demand, and they will utilize legal methods to eliminate as much access to women considering abortion as possible. On the other hand, fewer abortion facilities mean it will be more feasible for pro-life activists to maintain a constant presence outside any clinic for all hours they provide abortions. Prayerful presence and protest, such as that used in 40 Days for Life campaigns, have been effective in causing no-shows for abortion appointments, and they should still have some effect moving forward.

The second primary task is to change individual minds on abortion. Just because Roe is gone doesn’t mean that people will now suddenly agree that abortion is unjust killing. While Roe was the law of the land, lots of people had strong opinions on both sides of the abortion debate, but now that states can pass laws about abortion, those opinions can ACTUALLY AFFECT THE LAW. If enough of a majority opposes abortion in Oklahoma, abortion will be illegal in Oklahoma. Similarly, because enough people support expansive abortion access in Massachusetts, abortion remains legal there. In order to eliminate legalized abortion in America, we need to convince a large enough majority in the country as a whole, including millions of people in heavily pro-choice states, to choose the pro-life position. Absent access to mass media or education, the best method we have to gain a meaningful pro-life majority is to have conversations with individual people, especially in-person conversations with people we know and have existing relationships with, and convince them that the fetus is a person with the same rights as you and me.

Equal Rights Institute is helping mainly in this role; we’re training pro-life people in the best arguments against abortion, and we’re helping them learn relational strategies to connect with pro-choice people and help them to listen to what we have to say. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW. You have to understand, while pro-life people are celebrating the Dobbs decision because it ended nearly 50 years of nationalized legal abortion-on-demand, pro-choice people are afraid because they believe something they consider a human right is about to be taken away from them. Part of what we need to do is show pro-choice people that we care about bodily autonomy, we care about human rights, we don’t want to control women’s bodies; we have to earn a hearing so we can make compelling arguments for why abortion is still wrong and should be illegal. And we have to do this while people are more angry and distrustful than anytime in recent history. The pro-life movement will need to change minds everywhere, but especially in the “hard” states where abortion remains legal.

The third primary task is one that will take place mostly in pro-life states: the pro-life movement needs to pass legislation to create new infrastructure to support women and families now that abortion is no longer an option. The legislatures of the pro-life states no longer have to fight to limit abortion, and instead they have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a pro-life future. These initiatives will probably look different depending on the different needs and means of each state, but they will have in common a focus on supporting families through laws that do things like provide more family and sick leave, policies that support pregnant women and young children, and expansions of programs like WIC and pro-family tax incentives. States where abortion is illegal can use legislative power to empower women to make the choice not to have an abortion. They have the ability to show that the pro-life future is better than the pro-choice past.

Roe is gone, once and for all. Pro-life people everywhere should take this moment to celebrate as this victory is a result of nearly 50 years of work, both in changing culture and changing law. Millions of hours have gone into this work, and it’s appropriate to celebrate, but I also would like to encourage you to be aware that pro-choice people are watching what you post. Again, pro-choice people are both furious and terrified right now. So be careful to celebrate without being obnoxious. We shouldn’t be dunking on pro-choice people with an attitude of “IN YOUR FACE.” Instead we should say that we’re grateful for this Supreme Court decision that is a big step toward giving all humans equal protection from violence while simultaneously saying that we will continue to care for women and will seek ways to offer help and resources to them, especially when facing an unplanned pregnancy.

So yes, celebrate this day, and build up momentum for the work that is yet to come. These three tasks will take years for the pro-life movement to accomplish, but they are necessary for us to reach our final goal: a country and even a world in which abortion is not only illegal, but unthinkable.

Firebombings and Vandalism: Planned Parenthood Must Condemn Jane’s Revenge

Author’s Note – June 29, 2022: I’m happy to report that 53 days after the vandalism began and after multiple tweets from us and others calling for Planned Parenthood to condemn it, they finally did. On June 24, the day that Roe and Casey were overturned and the day that Jane’s Revenge threatened a “night of rage,” Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Liberate Abortion Campaign released a joint statement that began by saying:

We reject the tactics and threats of groups that use destruction and violence as a means to an end. They do not speak for us, our supporters, our communities, or our movement. We are committed to protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive freedoms through peaceful, non-violent organizing and activism.

I applaud them for finally doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the rest of the statement was awful, focusing on how pro-lifers are typically the violent ones and that groups like ours don’t really care about violence, that we instead just want to score political points. (For the record, political points are not at all the reason we started shining a light on Jane’s Revenge and the lack of response from groups like Planned Parenthood.) If anything, some of the Jane’s Revenge extremists may read into the rest of Planned Parenthood’s statement a defense of what they’re doing. Either way, much of the good of the beginning of the statement was reduced by the rest of it, and if pro-life organizations released analogous statements when violence happens at abortion facilities, you better believe there’d be an outcry.

Having said that, Planned Parenthood finally, and technically, did the thing we called on them to do, and therefore we feel obligated to update this post with that information. It shouldn’t have taken 53 days, but we’re glad that they finally said something against vandalism.

Author’s Note – June 16, 2022: I’ve just become aware that Sarah Stoesz, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, called the attack on the Agape PRC in Des Moines “completely unacceptable.” Her full comment is: “We strongly condemn violence in all of its forms,” she said. “That is not to say that we agree with the mission of crisis pregnancy centers. We absolutely do not, but responding to them with violence is unacceptable.” We commend Sarah Stoesz for that condemnation of the violence. We wish the national Planned Parenthood accounts would do the same, and hopefully they will soon.

This is DAY 39 since the first firebombing of a pro-life office in Madison, WI. There have been at least 3 other firebombings and at least 37 other incidents of vandalism since May 2nd. Planned Parenthood has yet to condemn any of this. And yet, on May 31st Planned Parenthood tweeted in memory of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion practitioner who was murdered 13 years ago. We agree that Dr. Tiller should not have been murdered, and ERI—along with basically every pro-life organization—openly condemned this along with all other violence by people who claim the pro-life position. But by the time Planned Parenthood posted this, there had already been 31 incidents of firebombing and vandalism of pregnancy resource centers, pro-life offices, and churches, the majority of which were done by pro-choice domestic terrorist group Jane’s Revenge. As pro-lifers, we are against this violence: all of this violence. Planned Parenthood: do you condemn this, or are you only against violence done to your side? You’ll condemn the killing of George Tiller, but you won’t condemn firebombings and vandalism against pro-lifers, and you won’t condemn an attempted murder of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh?

(@LilaGraceRose/Image via Twitter)

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The Latest Research on Fetal Pain (with John Bockmann and Bridget Thill, MD, MS)

Download MP3 – 1:01:03

In this podcast, two authors discuss recent research regarding fetal pain: John Bockmann, co-author of “Reconsidering Fetal Pain” (2020) and Dr. Bridget Thill, MD, MS, author of “Fetal Pain in the First Trimester” (2021).

Here’s a link to the five slides Bridget Thill discussed, including working links to the sources in the footnotes. (Opens PDF)

The Supreme Court Abortion Case: Your Questions, Answered

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is widely considered to be the most important Supreme Court Case on abortion in nearly three decades. We want you to understand what’s happening in real-time and equip you with tools to discuss it effectively. ERI staff members Josh Brahm, Andrew Kaake, and Emily Albrecht listened live to the oral arguments, and went live the next evening to share their perspectives and answer your questions! This is the case everyone will be talking about, so prepare yourself to have productive dialogues about it!

Thanks to Tim Hull for hosting the live stream!