Today’s a historic day: The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and we should celebrate. It’s a major and decisive victory, without a doubt, the culmination of decades of dogged work from countless pro-lifers, so many of whom are largely unknown. We owe them a real debt of gratitude.
But today’s win is far from the end of the fight. It’s a victory in a major battle, the first hurdle, and now we move on to the next stage in the war. In the NR print magazine, Ryan Anderson and I have a long essay — adapted from our forthcoming book Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing — exploring what we think pro-lifers should do in the wake of Roe, offering some ideas as to how we can make our country more welcoming to children and more supportive of families, an essential task if we want to make abortion both illegal and unthinkable, if we want to end abortion in a sustainable way. Here’s a bit of what we offer:
The only proper response to the past five decades of destruction is to dismantle every part of the system that perpetuates abortion, a project that will become far more feasible if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in deciding this term’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. As it has done since Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement must work to make abortion not only illegal but also unthinkable. There are no simple solutions to bring about that goal, but there is plenty that each of us can do. Consider the immense power that even one maternity home or pregnancy resource center has to transform the life of a mother in need, helping her reject the falsehood that abortion will solve her problems. Women deserve so much better than abortion, and babies deserve to live.
Creating a society in which every unborn child will be welcomed into the world is going to require major shifts in our law and our culture. In each domain, our efforts should prohibit the evil of abortion and affirm the goods of life and family. Making abortion illegal and unthinkable will require the work of politicians and policy-makers, pregnancy resource centers, churches, other groups that assist families in need, and each of us in our community. . . .
Much of what we offer should be a matter of charitable discussion among pro-lifers. We must agree on our final goal: abolition of abortion through both law and culture, a world where abortion is both illegal and inconceivable.
But there are a multitude of ways to achieve that goal, and prudence will be necessary. Achieving consensus will be easier on the supply side of abortion — no pro-lifer can support lethal violence in the womb — but there is a diversity of reasonable views about which measures best address the demand side. We should not establish litmus tests for what constitutes a “real” pro-life solution for any given cultural or legal proposal in this regard. Pro-lifers can hold a range of views on, for example, paid family leave or child tax credits. We should debate these policies on the merits and keep in mind that ending abortion will require a “both/and” approach in many areas, not an “either/or.” We need plans for shifting our laws and our culture, efforts to care for babies and mothers, work from state and federal governments — and all of these efforts should aim at ending the supply of abortion and the demand for it.
Should Roe and Casey be overturned, states will scramble to respond. Pro-lifers should concentrate on advancing laws as protective of unborn children as possible, keeping in mind that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In many states, this will require patience and incrementalism, enacting more and more protections for the unborn over time while continuing to convince our fellow citizens that nothing short of full protection will satisfy the demands of justice.
Roe has been thrown in the dustbin where it belongs, and if you’re curious about what comes next for the abortion debate and the pro-life movement, I hope you’ll read our whole essay, and indeed our whole book — not because we have all the answers, but because it’s a place to start thinking through the monumental task of creating a truly pro-life future.