Published February 28, 2022
It is time to prepare for life after Roe. Although the rest of us won’t know the results for a few more months, the Supreme Court has already voted in Dobbs, the case challenging Roe v. Wade’s invention of a constitutional right to an abortion. The opinions are being drafted, circulated, and revised. The general expectation is that Roe will go; even many abortion supporters seem resigned to that.
Abortion opponents have been burned before, and it could happen again. But we should not allow fear to keep us from planning for victory.
Of course, overturning Roe will not end the struggle to protect human life in utero, but it is the breakout battle. Under Roe and the subsequent Casey decision, we have been besieged deep in our own territory, trying tactic after tactic to get around the constraints the Supreme Court placed on us. With Roe gone, abortion policy will be set by the states — there is an argument that abortion is unconstitutional, but no one expects the Supreme Court to embrace it in this case.
Without Roe, state laws protecting human life in the womb will not be constantly blocked by the federal courts. Thus, many states will promptly enforce laws restricting abortion.
Some of these laws are from before Roe and some were designed to go into effect if Roe was overturned. However, states controlled by the abortion industry and its allies will continue to permit abortion on demand, and even increase their pro-abortion efforts. Also, although Democrats are unlikely to dominate Congress sufficiently to legislatively impose abortion on demand on the entire nation, the Biden administration’s control of the federal bureaucracy still gives them a lot of power.
Prepare to Counter New Tactics
Abortion opponents need to prepare ourselves to counter the new tactics the other side will use if Roe goes. Pro-abortion states will encourage abortion tourism, even to the point of providing state abortion funding for residents of other states. We should also expect abortion advocates to increase the harassment of crisis pregnancy centers that provide support for women looking for alternatives. The abortion lobby does not want any other options.
The pro-abortion endgame, however, is mail-order abortion. Telemedicine and the abortion pill regime will be used to circumvent state restrictions on abortion. Democrats are already shoveling money to Planned Parenthood for telehealth contraception, knowing that this will be used for abortion — if not now, then soon. Other gimmicks are possible, such as hosting abortion clinics on federal land, but the primary goal is for abortion pill mills in places such as New York City to flood the rest of the country.
Thus, though we should rejoice at the end of Roe, it is not the end of the fight to protect human life in the womb. We should take heart, though, for undoing Roe proves that the march of history is not one of pro-abortion inevitability. We can win.
Essential to our hope for victory is the truth is that abortion is an evil that makes everything worse. It is an impediment to human flourishing. This is why, despite apocalyptic predictions from the left, life will go on after Roe is overturned — indeed, more lives will go on. This is clear in states that have already imposed restrictions on abortion. Texas has been just fine since its heartbeat bill went into effect, and Missouri has not suffered from pushing nearly all elective abortions outside its borders.
Once Roe is gone, we must work state-by-state to limit abortion and to remove abortion clinics from an increasing area of America. Abortion on demand needs to be geographically confined — a regional peculiarity, rather than a national norm. Isolating and containing the evil of elective abortion will prepare the way for its national abolition.
Funding Support, Defunding Planned Parenthood
Furthermore, as we restrict abortion, we must continue to provide support for mothers and children. We should increase giving to local pregnancy centers and pro-life medical practices. Good family policy will also be essential, and conservative scholars are rising to the challenge. State governments should follow the example Texas set by pairing its heartbeat bill with generous funding to care for women and children.
We must simultaneously fight to defund Planned Parenthood — we should fund babies, not abortions. It is shameful that Republicans have allowed billions of taxpayer dollars to fill the coffers of the nation’s largest abortion chain. Republicans have had chances to end this, but have pursued other priorities. It is long past time to primary ostensibly pro-life GOP politicians who will not end the flow of government cash to abortionists.
GOP office-holders also need to prepare to use the federal bureaucracy effectively, and the pro-life movement needs to get ready to staff it. Democrats’ scheme for big-city mail-order abortion pill mills supplying the entire nation will be impossible if the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services do their jobs and follow the law. Republicans are bad at directing the administrative state even when nominally in charge of it, and they are even worse at oversight of the bureaucracy when the Democrats control it.
The fight to protect human life in the womb will not, alas, end with overturning Roe — and we must be wary, for the Democrats will revive Roe if they regain the Supreme Court. But if we prepare and persist for the next phase of the struggle, we will be able to restrain the evil of abortion far more effectively than we have been able to under Roe.
God willing, Dobbs will allow us to finally go on offense against the evil of abortion.
Nathanael Blake is a senior contributor to The Federalist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.