What the anti-abortion movement wants next — and how we can respond

What the anti-abortion movement wants next — and how we can respond
An abortion rights demonstration in Grove City, Ohio in December 2018, Wikimedia Commons
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The anti-abortion movement is not resting on its laurels. Twenty minutes after the Supreme Court posted its decision overturning Roe v. Wade and eviscerating the federal right to an abortion, the Idaho-based Stanton Healthcare, an organization that "seeks to replace abortion businesses around the world," sent out an email celebrating the decision, but also noting that "overturning Roe is not a finish line, but rather a starting line."

Consider this moment as the warmup. Of course, people in certain quarters are popping champagne corks and dancing before the Supreme Court, but the same movement that brought us Donald Trump never intended to stop the abortion fight at dismantling Roe. It has much bigger ambitions.

Getting rid of Roe is insufficient to their grand vision because abortion is now regulated at the state level, which means it will probably remain legal in about half the states. So if you have the money, means and time, you can still get a legal abortion in the U.S., even if you live in a state that prohibits the medical procedure.

The finish line, for the anti-abortion movement, is a country where no one, at any time, in any place or under any circumstances, will be able to get an abortion.

Here is a preview of what we can expect in the coming months. The Heritage Foundation notes that it has been working on "an extensive post-Dobbs game plan," and that "now is the time to put it into action at both the state and federal levels."

At the federal level, there is talk of enacting a 15-week national abortion ban, but that will not satisfy the base, nor does it have much chance of passing in the Democrat-led House. A more realistic longer-term plan was laid out yesterday by former Vice President Mike Pence. In an interview with Breitbart, Pence, a likely contender in the 2024 presidential election, emphasized that, "we must not rest and must not relent," until there was a national ban on all abortions.

At the state level, where the fight now goes, anti-abortion activists can look to model legislation drafted last week by James Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee. This legislation is chilling because its focus is not just on a complete abortion prohibition, but also on enabling and empowering a more "robust enforcement regime than just reliance on criminal penalties." Simply put, they want to put people in prison.

We can also anticipate the men's rights and fathers' rights movements coalescing more forcefully around abortion. Life Issues Institute, which was founded by John Willke — often considered the grandfather of the U.S. anti-abortion movement — also celebrated the fall of Roe, while lamenting that abortion is now in the hands of the states. Still, it sees a new opportunity to legally enshrine the decision-making power of men, as "states are now free to establish rights for fathers concerning the life-or-death decision of their children."

Bopp's model legislation has that covered. Under his draft bill, the "father of the unborn child" would have the right to bring an action for wrongful death against a person having an abortion, and that same father could also get their court costs covered, as well as obtain compensatory damages.

The anti-abortion movement is also looking to fill the vacuum that will surely be created by the closing of abortion clinics in many parts of the country. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are organizations that claim to provide pregnancy-related counseling but in fact engage in deceptive and unethical practices to dissuade women from knowing about or getting an abortion. Today, these CPCs already outnumber abortion clinics; there are an estimated 2,500 CPCs, compared to only 800 abortion clinics.

With Roe gone, groups like Stanton Healthcare are pivoting from talking women out of having abortions to actively trying to track down women who have self-managed an abortion using medication abortion. Stanton Healthcare is launching a major campaign to offer "medical care" to women who have taken abortion pills by providing them with so-called "Abortion Pill Reversal." This is a medically unsound and unproved procedure that has been thoroughly rejected by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

We can also expect these same CPCs and anti-feminist organizations to advance the narrative that a deranged pro-choice mob is out to physically harm anti-abortion activists. Penny Nance, the president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, recently appeared on Fox News to claim that the organization's Washington headquarters had been vandalized by a "leftist activist." The group has reportedly filed a report with the FBI alleging this was a hate crime against "people of faith." While providing no concrete evidence of any political motivation behind the alleged vandalism, Fox reported that Nance suspects that the actions taken by the so-called activist were in "connection with the leaked [Supreme Court] opinion." Heartbeat International, which runs one of the largest CPC networks in the U.S., is making similar claims about disgruntled abortion activists who have supposedly channeled their anger by attacking their clinics.

Roe is more than just a legal framework. For 49 years it has stood as an emblem of hard-won progress: a struggle for freedom and bodily autonomy that stretches back decades.

The fall of Roe may only directly impact people in the United States, but the decision is reverberating globally. The anti-abortion movement understands that these wins are fluid, and its leaders are preparing not only to defend their territory, but to expand further. This week we got gut-punched, and it feels like we've reached the nadir, but we haven't. Still, we have a way out. The way to defeat future attacks on our already limited human, political and civil rights is to pay close attention to the signals the anti-abortion movement is sending. We have their roadmap and we need to use this information for empowerment, not despair. They know the most important battles lie ahead, and so do we.

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