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Dobbs v. Jackson started with these folks in Mississippi

Lawmakers and pro-lifers say they never thought they’d see the end of Roe v. Wade


Pro-life activist Doug Lane outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi on Friday Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis

<em>Dobbs v. Jackson</em> started with these folks in Mississippi

While Jameson Taylor’s wife and kids were getting ready for their day of vacation in their Utah hotel room on Friday, Taylor was on his phone, checking the SCOTUSblog website. A Mississippi lobbyist, Taylor helped write the 15-week protection law at issue in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After he learned earlier this week that the Supreme Court had added Friday as an opinion day, he figured that was the day Roe v. Wade would be reversed.

He was right. When he saw the announcement, he jumped up, told his 8- and 14-year-olds the historic news, and gave his wife a hug, praising God for the victory.

“I asked [my wife], ‘Hey, if I told you 20 years ago, when we first met, that I was going to reverse Roe v. Wade, what would you have done? And she kind of laughed and said, ‘Well, I probably would have thought you’re crazy.’”

Taylor would have thought he was crazy too.

He believes he only played a small role in Friday’s achievement, though. “This is a victory for just literally the millions of pro-lifers who have prayed for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, people that have worked their entire lives for Roe v. Wade to be reversed,” Taylor said, adding that God ultimately gets the credit. When Taylor started working on the bill in 2017, he said he had no idea that it would lead to Roe’s reversal. But he said God brought it about “from the smallest of beginnings.”

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision inventing a right to abortion and 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law, marking the end of an era for abortion in pro-life states like Mississippi. Pro-lifers are jubilant about the ruling, which many did not initially expect when the case first began moving through courts. But even with Friday’s victory, pro-lifers recognize the work of protecting the unborn and helping mothers will continue.

After the Supreme Court released the Dobbs decision, Pro-Life Mississippi Vice President Beverly McMillan got a phone call from a friend who told her the news. During a 15-minute phone interview while working in the organization’s offices, she answered two other phone calls from supporters who offered their congratulations.

“We’re delighted too,” she told one. “Wonderful news, right?” she told the other before promising to call back.

The overturn of Roe has a particular meaning for McMillan: In the mid-1970s, she performed abortions at the state’s first abortion facility. That lasted until the sermons at her church convicted her and the gruesome reality of abortion hit her as she looked at the exposed bicep muscle of an aborted baby boy, eight weeks along, and thought of own 4-year-old son’s love of flexing his muscles. After that, she began advocating for the unborn and eventually became president of Protect Life Mississippi.

Did she ever think she would see Roe fall? “I prayed I would,” McMillan said. But she had been pessimistic that it would happen during her lifetime. “This is just—” she said, pausing to sigh, “just a real consolation.”

Jackson, Miss., pro-lifer Doug Lane saw the news on his phone while standing with a small group of pro-lifers outside of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, or Pink House, the only abortion facility remaining in Mississippi. He said Friday morning was business as usual at the facility, which began admitting clients at 7 a.m. When he and other pro-lifers in his group saw the Dobbs news online, they were dumbfounded, he said.

“I don’t think we ever really believed it was going to happen. And there it was in black and white,” Lane said.

Although the Mississippi law challenged in the Dobbs case protects babies from abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, the conservative state had a stricter law designed to take effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe. That law protects babies from abortion at all stages of pregnancy except in cases of rape and to save the mother’s life. But that conditional law won’t take effect until the Mississippi attorney general issues a publication stating the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe. (Asked when it would issue that publication, the attorney general’s office simply stated, “We intend to give the opinion and the analysis contemplated by the law the thoughtful attention they deserve.”)

“That 10 days will be grievously long,” said Lane. But once the law takes effect, both he and McMillan said it would allow pro-lifers in the area to focus on other work besides counseling women outside of abortion facilities.

The Jackson Pink House’s owner has already clarified her intentions to close the facility and move her business to New Mexico, which would leave the state without a brick-and-mortar abortion center.

McMillan said Pro-Life Mississippi has spent a lot of energy over the years supporting sidewalk counselors outside of the abortion facility. “We won’t have to do that anymore,” she said. “So we can put more energy into what we’ve been doing over the years also, which is trying to help the pregnancy help centers get funding.” Already this year, she said, Pro-Life Mississippi helped pass a Pregnancy Resource Act, which provides tax credits to pro-life pregnancy centers statewide.

Speaking from his hiking vacation in Utah, Jameson Taylor said women will continue to face complicated situations and pregnancy centers will need more resources to help them. Supporting pregnancy centers is the best thing states can do in the wake of Roe’s overturn, he said, pointing to the tax credit as an example. He thinks the country is ready for this development as more people come to recognize the Roe abortion standard is no longer tenable.

But he still feels a bit of a shock. “I don’t want to kind of undercut the efforts of any of us … but it’s not as if we’re a bunch of geniuses in a room [who] sat down in late 2017 and thought about okay, we’re gonna reverse Roe v. Wade,” he said, saying they just wanted to take the right next step for the state’s women and children. “I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to be a part of this. And knowing just that God did this … it’s very humbling, but also very liberating as well. … Today’s a day for great joy and celebration.”


Leah Savas

Leah is the life beat reporter for World News Group. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College and the World Journalism Institute and resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband, Stephen.

@leahsavas

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