The battle to overturn Roe v. Wade is nearly over. The battle to end abortion is about to begin.
When the Supreme Court declined to block a Texas law banning abortion after six weeks, the pro-life movement won its first significant victory in decades. Next year, SCOTUS will rule on a Mississippi law that directly challenges Roe v. Wade.
If Roe survives, the fight to overturn it is over, at least for our lifetimes. Abortion as a constitutional right will become truly settled law.
If Roe falls, or is narrowed, the fight will turn to the states.
Either way, the war is about to enter a new phase, and to that end pro-lifers should keep three things in mind.
1. Don’t be fooled
No matter which way next year’s ruling goes, the rhetoric directed against pro-lifers is sure to intensify. If the Court’s conservatives declare that no constitutional right to abortion exists, violence will erupt in the streets, churches and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers will burn, and allusions to The Handmaid’s Tale will fly thicker and faster than ever. If Kavanaugh or Barrett — hesitant to overturn precedent — flake and Roe becomes unassailable, opposition to legal abortion will come to be viewed as a backward superstition to be mocked rather than defeated. Either way, whether through demonization or diminishment, pro-lifers will find their beliefs challenged like never before.
Pro-abortion arguments can be seductive, but they’re also morally and intellectually bankrupt. ‘Safe, legal and rare, with restrictions after the first trimester’ seems to be the most popular view among Americans, but it’s long been out of vogue with the progressive activists who drive the discourse. For them, abortion is not a necessary evil but a positive good. They want more abortion, not less, because abortion is power. It’s a blood sacrifice to the god of the self.
When abortion shills conjure up the rape victim, the woman whose pregnancy endangers her life, or the poor single mother who simply cannot feed another mouth, know that this is a trick. It’s pure sophistry designed to make you throw up your hands and admit that the on-demand slaughter of 800,000 babies every year is the only possible solution.
The real temptation lies not in their twisted arguments, but in the all-too-human desire to be liked. In polite progressive company, the pressure to insist that you’re not like those conservatives is nearly unbearable. If you want to see where that ends, just look at the Lincoln Project’s response to the Texas heartbeat law. Even the venerable ‘personally opposed’ cop-out is no longer an acceptable position, as liberal Catholics like Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden and Liz Bruenig have found out.
Unless you actively celebrate abortion, they will hate you. So get used to being hated.
2. Don’t be bullied
Mean tweets aren’t the only weapons in the pro-abortion arsenal. As Ethics and Public Policy Center President Ryan T. Anderson wrote on Twitter, ‘Remember when corporate [A]merica did to Indiana over RFRA? Or North Carolina on bathrooms? Or a host of states on transgender “medicine” and sports? Expect to see them attempt to do the same to prolife states in a post-Roe world. They’re already trying to do it to Texas.’
He’s right. Already, ride-sharing app Lyft and dating app Bumble (apparently realizing that the hook-up culture abortion enables is good for business) have both pledged funds to oppose Texas’s heartbeat law. Web hosting company GoDaddy has taken down a Texas pro-life organization’s website. TikTok users are spamming anti-abortion tip lines with memes and copypastas. Hollywood actors are refusing to film in Texas. Major corporations headquartered in the Lone Star State are being pressured to relocate.
You would hope that the state’s Republican leaders would stay the course, but there’s no guarantee they’ll do so. Asa Hutchinson, governor of deep-red Arkansas, went all rubbery on the issue of feeding sex-change hormones to elementary schoolers. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, supposedly a lioness of the right, turned out to be a paper tigress when the NCAA expressed its disapproval of her ban on biological men competing in women’s sports. Even if Roe is overturned, we can’t trust our politicians to make good on the pro-life rhetoric that helped carry them into office. We’ll need to hold their feet to the fire and accept that living in a pro-life state might mean living in an economic and cultural backwater.
If Roe stands, we’ll need to hold GOP politicians accountable in a different sense. Plenty of Republicans will likely breathe a sigh of relief if the challenge to Roe fails. They’ll then try to placate pro-life voters by making token gestures, like opposing abortion on-demand up until birth. All they’ll have to do is stay slightly to the right of their Democratic opponents on this issue, and they’ll retain the religious right while making inroads among independent women voters for whom opposition to legal abortion is a non-starter. Soon, we’ll have a whole party full of Larry Hogans.
If we want to avoid that, we’ll need to insist that Republican politicians carry on the struggle against abortion with whatever methods remain legally viable. And we’ll need to distinguish between smart, effective tactics and mere gestures.
3. Don’t stop fighting
Right now, the conflict over abortion is being carried on above our heads, in the halls of state legislatures and the Supreme Court. Once the Court rules on Roe, we’ll need to put boots on the ground. Whether it’s a defensive or offensive war will be determined once the legal battle is lost or won.
In a post-Roe America, the pro-life movement will need to press the attack, pushing for abortion bans in purple states and boycotting and shaming companies that try to punish pro-life states.
If Roe remains the law of the land, it’s time to get rowdy. Voting for pro-life candidates and attending the March for Life will no longer be enough. Conservatives will need to wake up, realize that we — not the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter — are the resistance, and act accordingly.
Praying outside abortion clinics is a good start. If Roe isn’t overturned (and even if it is), let’s quintuple the number of people doing that. Then let’s have those people slap a $10 bike lock from Amazon on the front door, join arms, and block the entrance to the clinic until police arrive to arrest them all. Then let’s raise funds at our churches to pay their bail. If liberal Methodists can do it for BLM protesters, why can’t we? If we really believe that they’re killing babies by the millions and there’s no legal path to changing that, then it’s time to stop pussyfooting around.
And, of course, we’ll need to step up our generosity. Donate to or volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Join social media groups like Choice42 that create registries for women who decide to keep their babies. Adopt. Reveal the ‘pro-birther’ talking point for the farce it is.