Published June 1, 2022
In 1992, a group of pro-life women founded Susan B. Anthony List, intended to be a counterbalance to EMILY’s List, which endorses and fundraises for pro-abortion female politicians. Named after one of the most famous pro-life feminists, SBA List aimed to recruit and support pro-life women in politics.
Thirty years on, the mission and work of SBA List has grown far beyond what its leaders set out to do in those early days. Today, the group is one of the nation’s foremost pro-life advocacy and lobbying organizations, swinging elections and shaping policy. Its influence within the pro-life movement and the Republican Party is indisputable. Just last month, New York magazine’s “The Cut” profiled SBA president and co-founder Marjorie Dannenfelser, calling her “the woman who killed Roe.”
In recognition of how much the group’s work has expanded and how much its mission has evolved, it has just announced a major rebrand, including a new name: Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. Rather than serving as a pro-life parallel to EMILY’s List, the name now counters NARAL Pro-Choice America, a prominent abortion-advocacy group.
“America has not been a pro-life leader in the world, in fact it has been a strong leader in the wrong direction for almost 50 years,” Dannenfelser said in an interview with National Review. “We believe we are at the precipice of changing that. So to add ‘America’ to the title communicates what we aspire to be, which is a beacon to the world in a way we have not been in the past.”
In conjunction with the rebrand — which includes a slight change to the group’s logo, intended to represent the group’s namesake — SBA is building up two major programs that will bolster the grassroots pro-life movement after Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, whether or not those cases are overturned this summer.
One of those initiatives is Her Pregnancy and Life Assistance Network, or Her PLAN, which aims to help pregnant women find the medical, social, and material support they need to choose life. The project will compile a database of resources in each state, enabling users to more easily search for and obtain assistance.
Thus far, Her PLAN operates in Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, and West Virginia, and eventually it will host a directory for every state. The site includes information for local resources in each of seven categories: mentorship; health and well-being; financial assistance, work, or education; material or legal support; recovery and mental health; prenatal diagnosis; and childcare.
Dannenfelser believes Her PLAN will be crucial to the long-term success of the pro-life movement, saying it will help ensure “that the woman remains the inextricable center of this movement.” The program, she says, “is just as complicated as the needs of a woman in need. It’s multifaceted because her reasons for aborting and her needs are multifaceted.”
Helping pregnant women has always been a central part of the pro-life movement, but there has never before been a central resource compiling such a wide variety of services to that end — and there’s often a lack of knowledge even among pro-lifers about what is available. “One of the big things we’re finding is that the people providing this loving support also often don’t know each other,” Dannenfelser says, “and connecting them is vital so that they know how to refer to meet the multifaceted needs of women and children.”
Another major aspect of SBA’s rebrand is an expansion of its state-affairs team, which will work to help lawmakers pass and protect pro-life policies once Roe is reversed. Once Roe and Casey are gone, a handful of states will continue to allow abortion on demand, but many will remain battlegrounds, and abortion supporters will be fighting pro-life laws every step of the way.
“It’s really not simple,” Dannenfelser says of the state lawmaking process, “and it requires a really experienced and sophisticated team that understands the multiple layers of what is involved in the state, that understands how to lobby, that understands the political lay of the land so we can back up our friends doing the work.”
While maintaining its significant role in national elections and federal policy-making, SBA’s state affairs team will engage in 30 states, assisting local pro-life leaders in the legislative, political, legal, and constitutional fights ahead.
“This work has been going on for quite some time, but now it has to be on jet propulsion for the needs of the future,” Dannenfelser says. “Our expanded state team is organized along the lines of which states need the most focus. It has regional coverage, and it also has a prioritized mission, and that is to help states in the same way we had before, but now to be as ambitious as they possibly can be in saving lives and serving women.”
“Saving lives and serving women” is an accurate way to encapsulate the overarching mission of the pro-life movement, work that will only become more complex and more important in a post-Roe America. With this reorientation, SBA Pro-Life America has signaled that it is more than ready for the fight.