The Supreme Court ruling that overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade was a moment nearly 50 years in the making for many anti-abortion activists.
And while it’s a big win for the movement, it also marks a turning point for activists who have spent decades hoping to see the end of the landmark decision protecting procedural access. .
Various pro-life groups are planning hard for Roe’s downfall, seeking to lay the groundwork for subsequent battles in state legislatures and pushing for a federal standard that limits the -access to abortion.
But the reality of a post-Roe landscape is forcing anti-abortion activists to recalibrate and find ways to keep supporters energized and focused at a time when the court’s decision has reinvigorated the movement. on abortion rights and helped boost Democrats in 2022.
“We have been preparing for that decision in many ways for many years, because we know that this fight will take place in state and federal legislatures, but it also plays out in the court of public opinion and hearts and mind,” said Lila Rose, president. in Live Action.
“We have our work cut out for us,” he added. “It is time not to rest on our laurels. We must redouble our work to pass pro-life laws.”
Transfer to the states
With Democrats in control of the White House and Senate, much of the focus for anti-abortion groups in the past year has been directed toward state legislatures.
Dobbs’ ruling overturning Roe came down in June 2022. In September, Concerned Women for America, a group of Christian women, held a summit in Washington, DC, where leaders struck down state abortion laws. -in-state and determine what is best to do. advocating for stronger pro-life protection for everyone.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, one of the largest anti-abortion groups in the country, has taken a three-pronged approach to continuing the work of the movement. One aspect is working with states to put pro-life protections in place; one is to support pregnancy resource centers and pass laws that provide resources for mothers, and the third is to make sure that GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates talk clearly about their perspective on abortion.
Live Action, another major group in the movement, has turned its focus to a massive education campaign with the ultimate goal of “complete legal protection” for a fetus, as well as pushing for more resources for expectant mothers and families.
A year after Dobbs, anti-abortion groups say 24 states have enacted some form of abortion bans. Rose estimates there have been at least 24,000 fewer abortions in the country in the year since the ruling, and there have been more than 300 pro-life bills filed in state legislatures across the country.
Activists have also focused their work on improving education around the issue, seeking to frame it as a matter of human rights, and pushing for legislation that would increase resources for mothers, including during pregnancy. .
Anti-abortion groups supported a bill introduced last year sponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) included a child tax credit, provisions that would require biological fathers to help cover health care costs during pregnancy. , and a federal clearinghouse of resources for pregnant women.
Public opinion is changing in favor of access
But while anti-abortion groups have seen gains at the state level, the battle in the court of public opinion is a different challenge altogether.
Several polls have shown strengthening support for abortion access in the year since Roe was overturned. A Gallup poll published last week found that 69 percent of Americans believe that abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, a record high for the survey. The poll also found high support for legal abortion in the second and third trimesters at 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
The issue is pushing up turnout in the 2022 midterms, helping Democrats maintain their majority in the Senate and reducing losses in the House. In addition, voters in many states have approved referendums to affirm abortion access, or rejected referendums that would have removed abortion access.
But anti-abortion groups believe the results overshadow the fact that many Americans support some restrictions on abortion.
A poll conducted by the Tarrance Group for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America released this week found that 77 percent of voters approve of at least some restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, while Only 15 percent believe that abortion should be allowed throughout pregnancy. limitations.
The survey also found that almost 60 percent of voters would support Congress in passing legislation to protect fetuses that feel pain after 15 weeks, except for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
Kellyanne Conway, a former senior aide in the Trump White House, said there is a “misperception” around the public’s view of abortion that has become a “harsh reality.”
“This has been a half-century battle for many pro-lifers,” Conway said in a virtual call with reporters to mark one year since the Dobbs ruling. “I believe that if it took 50 years to overturn Roe v Wade, it should take more than 50 minutes, or 50 hours or even 50 weeks, almost a year, to explain to many people what the meaning of the decision. and what it doesn’t mean and many actions our states have taken since.
Abortion and the 2024 election
The next major test for the anti-abortion movement will come in the 2024 presidential election.
The groups are disappointed with the Republican approach to abortion in the 2022 midterms. Strategists and leading activists hope that the party has learned its lesson and will resolve the issue moving forward.
Activists are closely watching how the presidential candidates handle the abortion issue and have pushed those vying for the GOP nomination to accept federal legislation that would restrict abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, such as in the bill introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C. ) last year. And they are ready to try and rally the legislators and the public to the cause.
Grassroots leaders are ready for the fight to be a long fight.
“Some people are thinking of repealing Roe, now pro-life has won,” said EV Osment, vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “No, we won the right to fight, the ability to sit at the table with the other side.”
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