Family Research Council

Reflection and rededication as Roe v. Wade turns 40

By Anna Higgins


Anna Higgins, J.D., is director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Examiner on January 22, 2013.


Time magazine this month published a compelling article on the downward spiral of the "pro-choice" movement in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade was decided. The article notes that the efforts of abortion advocacy groups have become decidedly less relevant as support for abortion dwindles and the abortion rights message and leadership remain static. Meanwhile, the efforts of the pro-life movement have slowly and steadily created a platform from which efforts to preserve unborn life and promote hope to women in crisis have been successfully launched.

The holdings of Roe were the pinnacle of judicial activism. Though the decision represents the greatest victory for advocates of abortion, the heights of that victory are far behind us and will never be revisited. The pro-life movement has been steadily gaining ground, particularly at the state level, and will continue to do so.

Advances in medical science and subsequent Supreme Court decisions have contributed to the pro-life gains we have seen throughout the country. However, the greatest asset to the pro-life movement, one which abortion rights advocates can never match, is the individual willing to tirelessly support the cause of life.

This week, hundreds of thousands of these persons will converge on Capitol Hill to participate in the March for Life, which by some estimates will match or exceed the number that attended the inauguration on Monday. This ever-growing collaboration of men, women and children represents a cause that will not be silenced -- the restoration of the right to life for the most helpless among us, the unborn. Each of these people has played, and continues to play, an integral role in the pro-life movement in their various communities as they educate others, show compassion to those in crisis, and petition for laws that will protect the innocent. Every single effort makes a difference.

The pro-life movement has come so far because its members care, because they refuse to quit, and because they believe. At the heart of what it means to be a human is what our forefathers immortalized with pen and paper -- that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with the right to life. This unalienable right has been egregiously violated and must be restored.

The next 40 years hold great promise, thanks to these grass-roots efforts. Of course, our goal remains the correcting of Roe. In the interim, states continue to pass common-sense regulations on abortion in record numbers, fueled by the efforts of pro-life political leaders and everyday citizens willing to speak out.

The next 40 years will also be a time to focus on the harm abortion is doing to women and provide compassionate support and alternatives to abortion. Already, pregnancy resource centers, established to provide counseling, medical care and support to pregnant women, are multiplying nationwide thanks to individuals, churches and grass-roots leaders who are committed to loving each and every woman, man and child involved in a crisis pregnancy.

As we peer into the future, we see hope for the hopeless, thanks to the often quiet efforts of the individual citizen. The pro-life movement rises or falls with the young mother who shares baby supplies with women in crisis; with the student who courageously speaks the truth in her college class; with the legislator who is willing to take a stand. And the movement will keep gaining ground as long as such people keep the faith and keep fighting the good fight.