It’s hard to put into words the feelings that came over me as I stood in front of the U.S. Supreme Court last December 1st—the morning the Court was preparing to hear arguments in the case that may overturn Roe v. Wade—and addressed a buoyant crowd of thousands of pro-life advocates, members of Congress and reporters. Energized—because the labors of millions of pro-life Americans over years had led to this day. Hopeful—knowing that within that gleaming marble building, the truth about the humanity of lives in the womb and the horror of what abortion really is and does was being told. But most of all, thankful—that our work together on behalf of all human life, from the womb to old age, is making a historic difference.
My elation only soared when, later that morning, I heard the lawyer for Mississippi forcefully argue to the nine Justices:
Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey haunt our country. They have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions. They’ve damaged the democratic process. They’ve poisoned the law. They’ve choked off compromise. For 50 years, they’ve kept this Court at the center of a political battle that it can never resolve. And 50 years on, they stand alone. Nowhere else does this Court recognize a right to end a human life.
This may have been the most open and honest Supreme Court oral argument on abortion ever held. It involved ultimate questions not only about Roe’s overturn, but also the role of religion in the debate, the truths of medical science, the so-called “reliance” on abortion that Casey turned on, the real history of abortion law – everything was fully aired. All the elephants in the room were called out and thrown on the table. This is the debate that we should have had in the Supreme Court decades ago, and I’m very grateful that we heard it last week. We’ve always said as a pro-life movement that Roe would wither under a truly close examination, and it looks like our prediction may finally be coming true.
That crisp early winter day last December felt like a day for pealing victory bells. I can’t help but think of another time when the tide was turning in a long and just battle. Advised of the Allies’ victory in Egypt in 1942, Winston Churchill knew the successful outcome of the war had become foreordained. Although three hard and bloody years were still ahead in the fight to liberate Europe from Hitler’s genocidal madness, the “hinge of fate,” as he would later call it, had turned. “Ring out the bells,” Churchill urged the nation. “This is not the end,” he cautioned. “It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
The end for legal abortion has been a long time coming. Poll after poll has proven that Americans are pro-life and desire stronger limits on abortion, and the states have passed hundreds and hundreds of strong pro-life laws (many of them drafted by AUL’s legal staff) in the last ten years. That the Justices of the Supreme Court would be willing to discuss, and even question, the sacred cows of abortion must surely mean that the days of Roe and constitutionalized abortion are numbered.
One in Four
That figure has special meaning in the fight for life. One in four is the number of women who will experience the tragedy of abortion in their lifetimes. That any number of our sisters should have to endure it is unacceptable, but the figure offers hope and a glimpse of the finish line in the race for life. For many years, the abortion industry and their apologists in academia and the media insisted that abortion was normal and virtually ubiquitous: “One in three women will experience abortion,” they crowed. The claim was never really true, and it was overtaken long ago by pro-life public conviction and the precipitous drop in demand for abortion, until at last in 2015 the Washington Post fact-checkers put the lie to that “stale claim” by giving it “two Pinnochios.” Several years ago, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute acknowledged that the figure was actually one in four and falling quickly along with the abortion rate. The pro-life movement hasn’t looked back; an increasingly effective legal and policy campaign for life-protective laws in the states, coupled with the powerful witness of pro-life pregnancy centers and sidewalk counselors, has reduced the U.S. abortion rate to what it was in 1972 – the year before Roe was decided. One in four women suffering the indignity and violence of abortion is too many – but it’s clear that the Supreme Court could not force acceptance of the act it made legal nearly fifty years ago.
Thankfully, one in four is also the number of abortion centers in America against pro-life pregnancy centers – there are now less than 700 abortion businesses to over 2,600 pro-life pregnancy centers. Like the figure for the number of women experiencing abortion, the ratio of abortion centers to pregnancy help centers has been moving strongly in the right direction for years. And unlike abortion centers that charge for their procedures and operate as “for-profit” businesses in form or in fact, these life-affirming pregnancy centers are charitable operations staffed predominantly by caring volunteers. Four to one pro-life centers to abortion mills in America, offering help and hope to women looking for support—the next time someone tells you the pro-life movement doesn’t care about women, remind them of that fact.
The Battle Plan for Life
After the “hinge of Fate” finally closed the door on Hitler, Germany faced a challenging period of rebuilding. Into that gap stepped a quiet man of Christian faith and action, Konrad Adenauer, who served as West German Chancellor for fifteen years and patiently rebuilt the nation into the leader of Europe. Adenauer attributed his political success to “Three Rules of Political Engagement:” Get there first; have the best information; stay the longest. That’s been standard operating procedure for Americans United for Life for fifty years now, and it’s saved millions of infant lives through strong pro-life policy. When Roe is overturned—whether that’s in Dobbs or a later case—it will continue to be our mission. AUL was built for this—and we’re ready to take on the abortion industry state by state, as we have for half a century.
So it is with pride that we offer pro-life lawmakers and advocates Defending Life 2022, and an invitation to link arms with us and keep fighting for the most important right of all—the human right to life. Increasingly, Americans are demanding earlier gestational limits that affirm the humanity of all persons in the womb, prenatal non-discrimination laws that protect lives, basic health and safety protections for women from Kermit Gosnell-like fly-by-night abortion businesses, and strengthened resources for abortion alternatives offered by pregnancy resource centers.
We are here to help enact all these life-affirming policies. AUL eagerly anticipates the coming day when “All are welcomed in life and protected in law.”