Law & the Courts

Meet the Pro-Lifers Who Surrounded the Supreme Court as Dobbs Oral Arguments Unfolded Inside

Pro-life demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments in Dobbs vs. Women’s Health, in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2021. (Isaac Schorr)

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer could be found outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, while inside, the oral arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi abortion case, proceeded apace. So could “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley, and House minority whip Steve Scalise.

More interesting than the politicians and the slogans they shouted, however, was the crowd: Overwhelmingly pro-life, and with the courage of their convictions not just in tow, but on their sleeves. While groups like Shout Your Abortion posted videos of women taking abortion pills outside of the Court, and one pro-choice speaker loudly boasted that “this pro-abortion train is bound for glory,” the faction was as outnumbered on the outside as Democratic appointees are on the Court. Here are a few of the pro-life activists who showed up on this historic day.

Kathleen is a middle-aged lawyer from Virginia with two kids, whom she says she had a “very, very hard time having.” She described herself as a “Catholic, and a Republican,” presumably in that order. Religious beliefs aside though, Kathleen was quick to proclaim that “science is real,” echoing a common progressive refrain and bumper sticker.

She also cited personal reasons, bringing up her daughter who is “swinging the other way. I just wanted to be here today to say ‘It’s okay to have your religious beliefs, and have your faith. And it’s not wrong to profess it. I like seeing all the young people here today — it’s very encouraging.”

“I think the senator from New Hampshire yesterday said that most young people are against the ban on abortion, I think it’s actually the opposite of what we’re seeing,” she added.

A pro-life demonstrator holds an issue of National Review ‘End Roe’ outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2021. (Isaac Schorr)

Kathleen wasn’t lying. A significant number of the pro-life demonstrators were youths and young adults. Among them were five female attendees of a local Catholic school. “We all just agree that abortion is murder, it doesn’t matter when in the pregnancy, the heartbeat starts at four weeks,” said one, speaking to the posse’s motivations.

“We were kind of born into this idea,” added another, who nevertheless made a point of explaining that they had done their own research and thinking on abortion, to the vigorous nods of the others.

All said they had not only attended the March for Life, but prayed outside of abortion clinics, and been a part of “this little group at our school, and we would have bake sales to raise money for the pro-life movement.” They also noted that their prayers extended to their political opponents.

Another young attendee was Riley, a freshman at Liberty University who could be found amidst her classmates in a prayer circle on Monday morning. Her explanation of her motivations was simple: “My sister.” Riley’s two-year-old sister was the victim of an attempted abortion at 29 weeks. “Her [sister’s] mom was a scared young woman whose mother and grandmother pretty much forced her to have an abortion,” she said.

“My heart goes out for that young woman, because she never got to meet her daughter. But my sister was 29-weeks-old, attempted abortion, she was born alive. She should be by all means dead. She’s had malaria multiple times, she’s had heart failure, she has chronic lung disease because of it. But God saved her and the reason I’m here is Christ. Because he put value on her life, and he put value on everyone’s life . . . no matter what side of the argument you’re on, your life is valuable,” argued the visibly moved student, who said that her family has always been “a big advocate of adoption.” And not just advocates: Riley has two other adopted siblings.

Discussing the atmosphere of the pro-life crowd, Riley professed to “just see a lot of people who want to love on other people. They love women, they love children, and they just want to love on people. They just want people to know the value of their own lives as well.”

Not all attendees were young, but all brought the similar kind of youthful vigor and enthusiasm to the table. Joel, an older African-American man at the demonstration, told National Review that while he had always been a Christian, he first became moved after finding a crying and hurt child at a Walmart back in 2008. “As I went to purchase my bread, I was still grieving. There was something wrong with me. I was crying, I was fighting back tears, I got in my truck getting ready to leave the parking lot and I just broke down crying. And I almost hyperventilated, and I finally said ‘God what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like someone died?’ And he said, ‘they have.’ God spoke to me, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘somebody has died and these are the babies, the pain you feel, that’s the pain I feel.'”

Joel emphasized not only the obvious, universal issues at play but the racial ones as well. “As a race, we’ve killed over 22 million of our babies, and I care for all life, because we’ve killed over 62 million, but my race particularly,” said Joel, who cited the disproportionately high black abortion rate. “If we don’t fight for life itself, what will stop us from doing any kind of evil?” he asked.

Vanessa, an African-American grandmother, concurred, “a society that can kill babies, that’s barbaric. I don’t think America’s barbaric, and I think women are misled.”

“When you look at a little one, we see their little arms and legs and so it’s important. And I’m a grandmom. I’ve got four beautiful grandchildren, and I want other people to have grandchildren,” offered Vanessa, simply but powerfully.

Vanessa told National Review that she had always been pro-life, but had gotten “off the sidelines” over the last few years, calling the pro-choice movement part of a broader pattern of how “our children are sacrificed in these cultural wars.” She said that despite not living in Virginia, she donated to the campaign of Glenn Youngkin, who made education a focus of his successful effort to take the governor’s mansion in the state. “My family lives in Virginia,” she noted.

“Public education, they’re government schools! They’re indoctrinating our children, and children are losing their childhood with all of these adult issues and things that they have to try to process. They’re just children. They should be allowed to be little boys and little girls and figure things out as they go . . . but the government seems to want to have their hand in that,” said Vanessa.

“You can feel the love that people have for babies, and you can feel the love that we have for one another,” she went on. “Even though this is a very sober issue in front of us, we know that God is greater than this issue, and so we can have joy in that with one another.”

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