Next month we will complete the first year since the disastrous Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions were reversed by the US Supreme Court in the Dobbs case. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we approach this milestone:
We have not yet fully absorbed what this means.
Both sides in the abortion debate, as well as the whole nation, are still adjusting to the sea change that the reversal of Roe brought about. For five decades, lawmaking, court proceedings, academia, media, activism and public discourse have been shaped by the holdings of Roe. It takes a while to adjust to a landscape without it. The first part of “adjusting” is “understanding.” We need to study and digest the Dobbs case, its holdings and its implications far better than we have done so far. (See SupremeCourtVictory.com for a helpful resource.)
The Court did not simply “return the issue to the states.”
As we were awaiting the final decision in Dobbs, other pro-life leaders and I were alerting lawmakers and the general public that the mantra that the abortion issue would “return to the states” was an oversimplification. The fact is that the shift Dobbs brought about was not so much vertical (federal to states) but horizontal (judicial to legislative branch). The Court returned abortion policy “to the people and their elected representatives” – that means at every level of government: federal, state, and local.
The pro-abortion movement continues to re-invent the fake lie of Roe.
For fifty years, the pro-abortion movement hid behind a “constitutional right to abortion” which the Court, in Dobbs, declared was invented without any historical or constitutional basis. But hiding behind this fake “dogma” meant that abortion supporters didn’t have to justify abortion on its merits. “It’s our right” summed up the argument. In the absence of such a “right,” and in the absence of any arguments to justify baby-killing, the abortion side resorts to re-inventing the fake right on the state level.
That is why you see ballot initiatives to insert the mythical right into state constitutions. But as Dobbs pointed out, nowhere in the landscape of American history or jurisprudence is a “right to abortion” asserted until the late 20th century. Nor has “privacy” been a justification for killing. Those same arguments now must be used to counter state constitutional “rights” to abortion.
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We need to help politicians embrace rather than run from this issue.
As we can see from the 2022 political victories of all the governors who signed strong pro-life laws after Dobbs, abortion is a winning issue if a candidate clearly, unapologetically, and compassionately addresses the issue head-on and shows that protecting children is not “extreme.” That label, on the other hand, belongs to those who propose killing them up to birth. It is crucial that the pro-life movement strengthen all who seek or hold public office to use the opportunity Dobbs has given them to protect the most vulnerable, the unborn.
We should continue both to celebrate and to double down on our work.
As soon as Dobbs was decided, about ten states began protecting the unborn, and another 15 or so have come along with various levels of protection. Some of these laws are in effect, saving tens of thousands of lives already. Others are tied up in court, but the courts now have Dobbs as the controlling precedent rather than Roe and Casey, so we will see more victories in Court. And the pro-abortion forces now need to defend abortion on its merits rather than hiding behind the robes of judges. All of this needs to be celebrated. It is only right that the millions who have worked for five decades to reach this point should rejoice in the Lord and savor the victory. That savoring and celebrating, then, are to impel us to work even harder for the protection that still has to be implemented.
And it should fuel our certain hope that we will succeed.
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