Abortion in a Post-Roe America

Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, much of Conservative politics has been about placing pro-life justices on the Supreme Court with the hopes of overturning the decision. Nearly 50 years later, they got their wish. Dobbs v. Jackson (2022) overturned the constitutional right to abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, leaving the legality of abortion up to the States. 

Much of the pro-life movement celebrated the decision as a great victory for the unborn. I was more skeptical. It wasn’t that the decision was wrong, I adamantly supported Dobbs. I was skeptical about how strong the celebration was. Sure, abortion is no longer a constitutional right, but is this the goal? The water that pro-lifers swam in was something to the effect of, ‘if we can just overturn Roe, then things will be better’. But what happens when the goal of our movement is an action step, and the action step turns out to be futile?

Well, the data is in. Since the Dobbs decision, abortion numbers have increased in the US. Despite 14 states implementing laws that outlaw abortion with very narrow exceptions and 7 more that restricted abortion access, 2023 saw the highest abortion numbers in a decade. The numbers collected by the CDC show the same trend. Since 1990, abortion has been steadily decreasing, with small increases under Republican presidents such as George W. Bush in 2006. This trend changed in 2016 with the election of Trump, and Roe v. Wade’s overturn did not alter the increase. This is not to say that Republican presidents cause higher abortion numbers (this is correlated, but the causation is unclear), but that pro-choice, Democratic candidates do not lead to higher abortion numbers. 

The main point is that a movement cannot be consolidated around an action step. In this case, the pro-life movement had largely been about getting legislation passed to outlaw abortion and getting pro-life justices on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. The problem is that sometimes the action step doesn’t have the desired effect. Abortions haven’t gone down with these political actions. The pro-life movement must be first and foremost a movement founded upon a vision of the country. We must move from political imagination. Political engagement must stem from a desire to live in a country where human life and potential are valued. We must not get the order mixed up here. The rallying cry for the pro-life movement is a vision of America, not a policy platform that might not lead to the intended outcome. Legislation matters. Politicians matter. This should not be ignored, but put in the right place. 



Contact Young Pro-Life Democrats:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: (703) 424-6663 (DFLA)

Address: 10521 Judicial Drive, Unit 200, Fairfax, VA 22030

© 2020-2024 Young Pro-Life Democrats, an initiative of Democrats for Life of America. All rights reserved.