On Life and Death Roe

December 2, 2021

There were plenty of surprises inside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, but the biggest one might have been outside it. "It was like a pro-life block party," FRC's Mary Szoch beamed. "There was just a palpable sense of hopefulness in the air -- a feeling that this was the moment [we'd] been waiting 49 years for." From dawn until well after the justices adjourned, the atmosphere was almost jubilant -- a preview, conservatives hope, of the celebration to come when the court rules on Roe v. Wade this June.

Until then, even the media couldn't help but notice the enthusiasm gap. "The anti-abortion crowd seemed to greatly outnumber abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court," a surprised Washington Post reporter pointed out. Most pro-lifers, who are used to shouting to be heard over the dueling abortion rallies at the court, were amazed. Students like Savannah Benton, who'd driven up from Liberty University, were positively taken aback. "Honestly, I was expecting more on the pro-choice side," she told the Post.

Let's hope that lopsided energy also translates to the states, where political tacticians on both sides are getting their battle gear ready. If enough justices have the backbone to dismantle Roe, churches, voters, and elected officials will be on the new front lines. It won't be the end of the abortion fight -- but it will be the beginning of a fair fight for the unborn, one where the people and the democratic process have a say. And if the last 10 years is any indication, the Left will have a major war on its hands. Even now, strategists are trying to game out how this will affect the midterm elections. Which side has the edge if the court sends abortion policy back to the states?

Like the Biden administration, the New York Times is wondering if the issue could invigorate a public that doesn't think too kindly of the Democratic Party right now. "While the subject of abortion and the Supreme Court has traditionally been seen as more of an energizing issue for Republican and evangelical voters," the Times agrees, "Democrats say that situation could be reversed should the court undermine Roe, raising the possibility that abortion could be banned or severely limited in many states." Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) hopes -- like the rest of his party -- that the panic over a Roe-less world would lessen the bloodbath most people expect for Democrats in next year's midterm elections. "There is no question that should the decision be one that would overturn Roe v. Wade, it will certainly motivate our base."

But will it motivate them enough? FRC Action Vice President Brent Keilen has watched the pro-life movement grow in power and progress over these last several years, and he believes it will make them a formidable foe for any grassroots abortion campaign. "America really has become more pro-life," he agreed on "Washington Watch." We may have a long ways to go, "but the progress really is undeniable. Fifty years ago, Brent pointed out, the pro-life movement didn't even exist -- at least not in the same sense as we think of it today. "It took a long time to build that infrastructure, but we are seeing the fruit of it now," Keilen explained. "The role of state legislatures has been huge. The role of judges has been huge. And now, one of the most important outcomes is that the pro-life position is now mainstream in the Republican Party. That wasn't always the case. Not that long ago, high-level GOP officials would ignore it, downplay it, and even -- sometimes -- actually undermine it. So we really have come a very long way in the defense of the unborn."

He's right. As recently as 2008 and 2012, there were a number of pro-abortion Republicans. But that took a dramatic turn in 2016 when, of all 17 presidential primary candidates, only one had a pro-choice position. Now, when you look across the country, the amount of success the pro-life movement has had just in the last several months is astounding. Already in 2021, states have passed a record number of pro-life laws (106), more than any other year since Roe v. Wade. So the momentum is only growing -- which is significant if the issue of abortion gets bounced back to the states where it belongs.

Looking ahead, those local races will never be more important. And Democrats know it. In op-eds leading up to this week's oral arguments, most liberals seem resigned to the idea of relocating the battle to the legislative branch. In some cases, they actually seem to welcome the shift, declaring, as Megan McArdle did in the Washington Post, "Let Roe Go." The New York Times's editorial board echoed the call this week, urging the Left's abortion militants to "turn to elections." State conservative lawmakers, they warn, already have. It's time to stop playing defense, the editors argue, accept the fact that the courts won't serve as a backstop, and start translating the "public's consistent majority support for abortion rights into electoral victories at all levels of government."

There's just one problem. There is a reason the Left has looked to the courts for the last fifty years on abortion. The Times is confusing the public's support for legal abortion with the Left's agenda: unlimited, taxpayer-funded destruction of an unborn child for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe may have condoned that. The American people -- almost every poll agrees -- will not. Too many Democrats have deluded themselves into thinking that the country's support for keeping abortion legal is a blank check to deregulate it. But voters, including "pro-choicers," have very strong opinions about where the lines on the culture of death should be drawn -- and the outrageously violent position of the Left falls well outside the mainstream. Ask the AP. Ask Gallup. Ask YouGov. Ask Harvard. Ask Marist. There isn't a majority anywhere in the country in favor of the kind of barbarism that Democrats want to make permanent law. Only eight percent of Americans can bring themselves to support abortion through nine months of pregnancy. If the Left is naïve enough to think otherwise, they're in for a rude electoral awakening.

Radical Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) predicted a "revolution" if Roe v. Wade is overturned. What she didn't take into account was the peaceful one already underway -- for life.

** Continue to join FRC in prayer over these next 24 hours as the Supreme Court justices head into a crucial conference over the outcome of the Dobbs case. For specific ways to pray, check out Wednesday night's Pray Vote Stand broadcast.