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Rejoice over Dobbs as we move to a new year, but …

The fight for hearts and minds on abortion is more important than ever

Pro-life advocates pray during a rally in McKinney, Texas, on Oct. 1, 2021. Associated Press Photo by Brandon Wade

Rejoice over <em>Dobbs</em> as we move to a new year, but …
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The year of our Lord 2022 saw the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court. I was privileged to have an opportunity to serve as counsel to the State of Mississippi in the case on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, helping them craft their arguments for overturning Roe. The Dobbs decision is the result of decades of prayer and perseverance. The Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe corrects one of the worst constitutional decisions of all time, and it will lead to the saving of countless lives. It is cause for celebration and thankfulness.

Yet the national reaction to Dobbs reveals that the fight for the hearts and minds of the American people is more important than ever. Congress held multiple hearings on the impact of Dobbs. (My colleague Denise Harle and I were privileged to testify on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom.) During those hearings, abortion advocates sought to convince the nation that pro-life laws endanger women and prohibit them from leading fulfilling lives. They argued that self-autonomy is the pinnacle of human existence. And they declared war on crisis pregnancy care centers, the very centers that provide expecting mothers with free resources, medical care, and counseling when they need it most. Each of these radical positions is harmful to women. Each is tragically common in our culture.

To begin, many of today’s pro-abortion activists refuse to acknowledge unborn children at all. Every single pro-abortion witness at the House Oversight Committee hearing refused to answer whether killing a child after birth was infanticide. Even Roe recognized that two interests exist, that of the mother and her child. And science now firmly establishes that life begins at conception.

During the same hearing, House Democrats also pushed the idea that women will be unable to access life-saving medical care because doctors will be reluctant to treat them. This is a false narrative that is endangering the lives of women. Every pro-life law contains a medical emergency exception that exempts procedures undertaken to save a mother’s life from the definition of abortion. In such circumstances, medical providers do all they can to save both lives. This is not an abortion, and no provider should fear prosecution.

Abortion proponents similarly claim that women should be worried about receiving treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. Congresswoman Ayana Pressley insisted that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion. This is wrong. As Planned Parenthood’s website long recognized, treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion because it does not involve the intentional and purposeful destruction of a human life. In fact, it was not until after Dobbs, when pro-abortion advocates falsely suggested that women might be unable to receive treatment for ectopic pregnancies, that Planned Parenthood put politics above women’s health and changed its website.

The response to Dobbs shows that pro-abortion advocates no longer think abortion should be rare.

The year 2022 also saw an unprecedented wave of attacks on pregnancy care centers. Catholic News Agency reports over 100 incidents of violence and vandalism against these centers and prominent politicians have argued that pregnancy care centers should be shut down. These efforts to eliminate organizations that support pregnant women eliminate real choice and ignore the fact that many women who have had abortions say that they would have chosen to parent if circumstances were different.

These centers are working to change women’s circumstances for the better. In 2019, they served 1.85 million individuals donating $266 million worth of free diapers, formula, car seats, baby clothes, medical and post-abortive care. Pregnancy care centers open their doors to women when they need help most. They are today’s heroes withstanding vicious attacks so that they can serve vulnerable unborn children and their mothers.

The response to Dobbs shows that pro-abortion advocates no longer think abortion should be rare. During the hearing, witnesses described abortion as the “best decision they have ever made” and an “act of self love.” This testimony ignores statistics that show that a majority of women who have an abortion go on to suffer mental health consequences. Further, self-autonomy has never been a license to harm an innocent third party. That’s why we have assault, murder, and larceny laws. To paraphrase the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “my right to swing my arm ends at your nose.”

At the end of the House Oversight hearing, I approached one of the young women who had spoken in favor of abortion. She seemed surprised, but willing to talk, until her guest said sharply, “No, we don’t talk to white supremacists.” For some, opposing elective abortion means you are a white supremacist. But the tragic reality is that abortion disproportionately ends minority lives. We have lost over 19 million black babies to abortion since 1973. And our nation is so much poorer as a result. Each and every child is valuable.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, there will be more children born tomorrow. As we rejoice, may we also embrace our Christian obligation to support these children and their mothers through birth and beyond and to act on the truth that every person—every woman and every child—deserves abundant life.

Erin Hawley

Erin Hawley is a wife, mom of three, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, and a law professor at Regent University School of Law.

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