AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn
Today, the Supreme Court will hear opening arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, widely considered to be the most significant challenge in decades to the Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that controversially created a constitutional right to an abortion. The Dobbs case deals with a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. With a newly minted 6-3 majority on the High Court, conservatives are optimistic that the Roe decision, which even liberals have admitted was made on shaky legal rationale, will finally be revisited.
If the Dobbs case goes conservatives’ way, it will mark a fitting end to what has been a banner year for the pro-life movement. With a number of new laws protecting the right to life of the unborn and a slate of pro-life candidates winning elections throughout the country, there is now a renewed energy on pro-life issues that the country has not seen in some time.
The most notable new piece of abortion legislation to make headlines was the Texas abortion law, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act or Senate Bill 8. This bill requires that doctors check for a heartbeat before performing an abortion and, if one is found, not allow that baby to be terminated. While several heartbeat bills have been proposed recently in other states, the Texas law has a unique enforcement system that makes it more difficult for doctors to find loopholes and perform the procedure anyway. Although the law and its enforcement mechanism have been challenged in court by leftist pro-abortion groups, it has prompted further discussion and deliberation of the nation’s abortion laws. If the law is ultimately upheld, it will be a major breakthrough for the pro-life cause.
Ohio’s state legislature has also recently introduced a bill similar to the Texas heartbeat law which would ban abortions at any stage of pregnancy. The bill, called the “2363 Act” (for the number of abortions a day in the United States) was introduced by Representatives Jena Powell and Thomas Hall.
Notably, Powell and Hall are two of the youngest representatives in the state legislature, a promising sign for the future of the pro-life movement. Twenty-six-year-old Rep. Hall recently predicted that “my generation will be the one to outlaw abortion.”
The pro-life movement also received a big boost in the November elections. While other issues like education, vaccine mandates, and economic policies may have taken center stage in the campaign season, Republican victories throughout the country mean that dozens of pro-life officials will soon be sworn into office. Some of the biggest news comes from Virginia, where pro-life candidates won across the state. The future governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general are all pro-life, as is the new Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. Youngkin has stated that he would consider signing a “pain-capable” abortion bill.
The pro-life movement now has an extraordinary opportunity to realign the nation’s laws with the values and beliefs of the American People. Conservatives can work to protect life not only from the moment of conception, but throughout a childhood by promoting policies that help families, economic policies that make it possible to support a family, and educational policies that put parents in charge. Although not an obvious part of the pro-life position, these issues are crucial. Pregnant mothers and their unborn children need stability and security to flourish.
It’s not only in politics that things are looking up for the cause of life, but in the medical world as well. This June, the youngest premature baby ever to survive – born at just 21 weeks and two days – turned one year old. Medicine is advancing steadily to help both premature babies and those with birth defects, pushing the boundaries of when a fetus becomes viable. The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia is at the leading edge of medical treatments for infants in the womb, and recently celebrated the birth of the 2000th baby to survive in utero surgery since 1995. These advances can give hope to scared parents and are redefining the possible for unborn babies.
Pro-life groups are also advancing their cause through direct support to expectant mothers. Today, there are an estimated 2,700 pregnancy centers in the U.S., also known as pregnancy resource centers or crisis pregnancy centers. That number that has grown steadily since the first centers were started. In 2019, they served almost 1.85 million people, providing medical care, such as ultrasounds, along with material support, such as baby supplies. These organizations, along with almost 2,000 other pro-life groups that provide help with housing and job seeking, have started expanding their services to support families as a whole. They recognize that pregnancy is not a journey that ends with birth, but the beginning of a whole new life, for both children and parents.
The tireless work of the doctors and volunteers who help babies in the womb remind us of the point of being pro-life. The politics and law-making are important, unquestionably, because those laws can protect children who can’t protect themselves. But at the heart of all the fighting and petitioning is the simple hope that a child can live. We don’t stop there, of course, since we want them to have a good life, with happiness and safety and love, but the life has to come first. And we know that too many have been lost, but we must remember how many have been saved, and how many more will get to live because of the hard work that is done today.
Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.