Are we ready for life after Roe?
Women versus Abortion
We have a long fight ahead of us.
The court has gone backward on a fundamental human right. It is a right that affects all women, and the men that make them mothers. It is so fundamental as to render all other rights meaningless apart from it. It is 1973, and the right to life has been abolished for millions of unborn children.
Of course, the right to life wasn’t actually abolished in 1970s America. That would have required an act of God. But the highest court in the United States said that it would not recognize that right for children who could not survive outside a woman’s womb. Roe drew a line somewhere along the navels of 63 million children, calling one half alive and the other dead. Associate Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, authoring the majority opinion, had to frame Norma McCorvey’s (“Jane Roe”) desire for an abortion as a desire for “privacy,” appeasing pro-abortion activists, while also acknowledging that somehow, at some point, that privacy would become a very public thing—a child, a citizen. The American public was nowhere near ready to say every unwanted child could be killed at the mother’s willing, no questions asked. Roe tried to split the baby. To do so, it rendered both halves lifeless.
Now, with the court’s decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruling both Roe and the Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision which refined it, each of the 50 United States gets a chance to weigh in on the question again.
Much has changed since 1973. Most notably, the daughters of the Roe generation are disturbingly willing to declare a life in the uterus is not human all the way up to birth. As others have written already, the Pandora’s box of “bodily autonomy,” a tyranny of a few radfems’ freelove lifestyle over all of posterity, has already been opened, and we’re fools to think one court decision closes it, or comes anywhere close. Still, as the pro-life movement rejoices in the success of overturning a bad ruling that inhibited many states from ending abortion, it should also be preparing its next steps, as the battle to protect life has just now begun.
Immediately following the May leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion which would, with slight modifications, become the Dobbs decision, Amazon announced it would pay for employees to travel out of state to obtain emergency abortions (and “other treatments”). Since Dobbs last Friday, a handful of other corporations have followed suit, including Uber, Lyft, Google, Meta, Disney, Starbucks, and Bank of America. Of course, it’s easy to see the benefit to such companies, not simply in winning more wokeness points, but in trading a plane ticket and an abortion for the far more expensive options of paid family leave, family friendly healthcare plans, or salaries for husbands that can support a mother while she stays at home. An easy first step for pro-life Americans, then, is to pull out of these and any other companies which have made such a commitment—change banks, cancel Amazon Prime, take a taxi instead of an Uber, and for the love of all things holy, stop drinking Starbucks. Stop funding Moloch.
We should go further, however. An inverse tax benefit, offered to companies which provide ample maternity leave and/or childcare support, would not be a bad idea. And while we protect the Hyde amendment, we must also stop using international aid dollars to subsidize infanticide abroad, too.
Pro-life advocacy groups and the men and women who run them, most Christian, have done much of the leg work since the initial Roe ruling to staff and fund pregnancy resource centers, volunteer, and offer counsel to women considering abortions. These centers are now on the front lines in more ways than one, via threats of violence from radical feminists and increased demand for their services from women who previously may have chosen abortion. We must redouble our efforts.
A major weakness for the pro-life players will be the temptation to rack up success stories in the easy states—Tennessee, Florida, Texas—while leaving states like California to founder. Many red states already had trigger laws in place protecting life as early as at 6 weeks in utero, which have gone or will soon go into effect with the overturn of Roe; but others, like California and Massachusetts, prepared in the opposite direction, protecting a woman’s right to terminate her child’s life as late as 24 weeks, even without the Supreme Court’s backing. The Golden State is now working to enshrine such laws in its state constitution. At first of course, the issue will look wildly different in each state. Yet ultimately, if we believe that life is sacred, it will never be sufficient to say it is protected in some states, but not others.
Changing California may be a white whale, but passing national laws protecting life from conception doesn’t have to be, especially if November brings as much of a political overhaul as has been predicted. The pro-life movement’s next challenge, thus, will be to ensure that these fresh faces vote in favor of life at every stage and do not squander a majority should they have it. Such laws would also curtail states like Virginia, which are still trying to split the baby by protecting life in some cases, but not others. If we are single-issue voters for anything, this is the issue.
Ultimately, the battle ahead is a cultural one, for nothing less than the hearts of American women. It has serious implications, not only for politics and posterity, but for the very fabric of our society. This is because the female is the source of fruitfulness in a community. Like Eve in the garden of Eden, she is the mother of all living things—children, yes, but also every type of flourishing, from gardens, to families, to art, beauty, and creativity, whether as muse or musician. What happens when she turns on her own, when the vine rejects its very fruit? As Substacker Kennequhair describes in his essay on the heroic female archetype, while the failed male hero receives shame, the female hero who rejects her role poisons the entire crop.
63 million children are dead. Until the majority of future American mothers identify with the cause of the weak and the fatherless once again, rather than envisioning themselves crusaders for self-actualization against man and nature, our successes will be trivial. We must stop feeding women the lie that they will be happier working 80 hour work weeks as CEOs, or spending their youth on cocktails, hookups, and Netflix.
Our laws against murder will be met with violence, our pregnancy centers with firebombs, our care for single mothers with spit for our eyes. How does a nation heal a culture of death? Not easily. But as I write this holding my two-day-old firstborn daughter, I cannot help but think that the best antidote to death can only be abundant life. The responsibility for our current state of affairs falls heavily on women, but rightly so. Only we can be the balm to salve the wound, tilling the earth we scorched to bring forth new life.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.