Opinion

The Now Dire Threat to Roe v. Wade Has Been Long in the Making

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Posted: Jun 28, 2018 1:35 PM
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The Now Dire Threat to Roe v. Wade Has Been Long in the Making

Whether you are pro-life and love Donald Trump or pro-life and simply didn’t want Hillary Clinton, this is your reward. With the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, Trump will be able to appoint another pro-life justice to the Supreme Court.

Stephen Collinson analyzed it this way for CNN, “The furious and disorienting theatre of the last 17 months has often obscured the deep changes Trump is unleashing on America and the rest of the world.” 

What? 

This small-minded commentary removes one thing from the equation — Americans. The now dire threats to Roe v. Wade are not the result of the sudden unleashing of a crazy politician. They have been long in the making.

Nancy Keenan, former president of the oldest abortion-advocacy group in this country, NARAL Pro-Choice America, could see American attitudes on abortion changing at the grassroots level. She resigned as president in 2012, citing her inability to recruit and motivate young people to support abortion rights. She told the Washington Post, “There is an intensity gap between our side, being pro-choice, and the other side.”

Keenan opened her eyes, literally. One cold January, she happened to be in Washington on the day of the March for Life. Hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans marched in the cold, praying, singing and joyfully opposing abortion. She looked on in awe and simply stated an obvious fact that the media has often overlooked: “But they’re all so young.”

Despite 45 years of legalized abortion, the pro-life movement has grown from the bottom up, often unnoticed. It has used science, reason and medical alternatives for women to highlight what seems obvious to me after 17 years in the movement: Americans are more uncomfortable than ever with abortion.

Many of the most powerful voices in the movement are women who have had an abortion, clinic workers who have supported abortion and doctors who have performed abortions. It is a movement of converts, and that has made it a movement with a future and a hope. 

Since our pro-life organization, 40 Days for Life, went national in 2007, we have seen 177 abortion workers quit and 96 abortion centers close as pregnancy-resource centers open to offer medical alternatives.

Our headquarters in Bryan, Texas is a former Planned Parenthood facility. The former director of the facility, Abby Johnson, became an advocate for life after seeing an ultrasound-guided abortion. She also is a former Planned Parenthood employee of the year.

Have you ever heard such a conversion story about a member of the pro-life movement? Has a mother of five who leads a pro-life organization ever woken up and realized she has been restricting women’s rights and quit her job, written a book, and shared her testimony on behalf of Planned Parenthood? No. Those stories don’t exist and the conversions and changes of heart and mind seem to be happening in only one direction. And that adds up over time.

Trump’s election and Kennedy’s resignation didn’t jump-start the pro-life movement. It has been happening, like all great movements in America, from the grassroots up, led by those who work, sweat and believe.

Abortion always has been and always will be about hearts and minds. No one grows up wanting an abortion, so providing alternatives and hope to those who feel they have no other option is the way to change the culture. That has been happening for decades. 

Kennedy’s resignation has thrown many abortion-rights groups into a panic. If they had  been paying attention all these years, they could have skipped the drama.