The Supreme Court decision that overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade was a moment around 50 for many anti-abortion activists.
And while it was a monumental victory for the movement, it also marked a turning point for activists who had spent decades hoping to see an end to the landmark ruling that protected access to the process.
Various pro-life groups had largely planned Roe’s downfall, seeking to lay the groundwork for the ensuing battles in state legislatures and to push for a federal norm limiting access to abortion.
But the reality of a post-Roe landscape has forced anti-abortion activists to recalibrate and find ways to keep supporters energized and focused at a time when the court ruling has reinvigorated the human rights movement. abortion and helped boost Democrats in 2022.
“We have been preparing for this decision in many ways for years, because we understand that this battle is taking place in state legislatures and at the federal level, but it is also taking place in the court of public opinion and hearts and minds. spirits,” said Lila Rose, President. live action.
“We have our work cut out,” she added. “It is time not to rest on our laurels. We must redouble our efforts to pass pro-life laws.
Switch to states
With Democrats controlling the White House and Senate, much of the attention of anti-abortion groups over the past year has been directed at state legislatures.
The Dobbs decision that overturned Roe was issued in June 2022. In September, Concerned Women for America, a Christian women’s group, was holding a summit in Washington, D.C., where leaders broke state-by-state abortion laws and determined how best to advocate for stronger pro-life protections in each.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, one of the nation’s largest anti-abortion groups, has taken a three-pronged approach to continuing the movement’s work. One aspect is working with states to put in place pro-life protections; another is to support pregnancy resource centers and pass laws that provide resources to mothers, and the third is to ensure that GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates clearly communicate their points of view. view on abortion.
Live Action, another major group in this movement, has focused on a broad education campaign with the ultimate goal of “full legal protection” for a fetus, as well as asking for additional resources for pregnant mothers. and families.
A year after Dobbs, anti-abortion groups announced that 24 states had adopted some type of abortion restrictions. Rose estimated that there have been at least 24,000 fewer abortions nationwide in the year since the ruling, and more than 300 pro-life bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. country.
Activists have also focused their work on improving education around the issue, seeking to define it as a human rights issue, and pushing for legislation that would increase resources for mothers, including during pregnancy. pregnancy.
Anti-abortion groups backed a bill introduced last year sponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that included a child tax credit, provisions that would require biological fathers to cover health care costs during pregnancy; and a federal clearinghouse of resources for pregnant women.
Public opinion shifts in favor of access
But while anti-abortion groups have seen gains at the state level, the battle in the court of public opinion has been a challenge in its own right.
Numerous polls have shown growing support for abortion access in the year since Roe’s fall. A Gallup poll released last week found that 69% of Americans believe abortion should generally be legal during the first three months of pregnancy, a record for the survey. The poll also found record support for legal abortions in the second and third trimesters, at 37% and 22%, respectively.
The issue boosted turnout in the 2022 midterm elections, helping Democrats retain their majority in the Senate and minimize losses in the House. Additionally, voters in several states have approved referendums to affirm abortion access or rejected referendums that would have removed abortion access.
But anti-abortion groups believe the findings overshadow the fact that many Americans support certain limits on abortion.
A poll by the Tarrance Group for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America released this week found that 77% of voters agree with at least some limits on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, while only 15% believe that abortion should be allowed throughout pregnancy without limits.
The survey also found that nearly 60% of voters would support Congress passing legislation to protect fetuses capable of feeling pain after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest or mother’s life.
Kellyanne Conway, a former senior White House aide to Trump, said there was a “misperception” around public views on abortion that has become a “harsh reality”.
“It’s 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 if it takes 50 years for Roe v Wade to be overthrown, it takes more than 50 minutes, or 50 hours or even 50 weeks, almost a full year, to explain to a lot of people what this decision means. and what it does not mean and many steps that have been taken in our states since.
Abortion and the 2024 elections
The next major test for the anti-abortion movement will come in the 2024 presidential election.
Groups have been frustrated with the Republican approach to midterm 2022 abortion. Strategists and leading activists hope the party has learned its lesson and tackles the problem head-on.
Activists are closely monitoring how presidential candidates handle the abortion issue and are pushing those vying for the GOP nomination to pass federal legislation that would restrict abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, such as the bill. legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C. ) last year. And they are willing to try to rally lawmakers and the public around the cause.
Grassroots leaders are prepared for this fight to be long.
“Some people think that with Roe’s repeal, now pro-life won,” said EV Osment, vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “No, we have earned the right to fight, the ability to sit down at the table with the other side.”
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