The Dobbs decision gave pro-life Americans what they wanted: the ability to have a conversation on abortion. Without Dobbs, Roe v. Wade, imposed by seven men in the ’70s on an America in which most states had pro-life laws, had no competition and pro-life Americans had no way to advance their agenda. In the greatest democratic movement since the Civil Rights movement, spread over 50 years, pro-life Americans organized to end Roe and won peacefully through the ballot box.
Unfortunately, it seems now the pro-life movement is the dog that caught the car. What should have become a real conversation got shouted down by the press and pro-abortion activists with fear and hysteria. Concurrently, the pro-life movement could not get on the same page. Some of the loudest voices to arise were also the fringiest voices of the movement — the abolitionists who want to ban all abortion and charge any woman who has one with murder. That might be logical, given the belief abortion is murder, but it is also political suicide.
Some of the most ardent pro-lifers in America now seem set to help Roe v Wade become law of the land through Congress. They cannot recognize that not every state is willing to accommodate my personal preference: no abortions. The result is that a public forced to choose between a total ban on abortion and one that allows abortion-on-demand until birth will gravitate toward abortion-on-demand, reasoning they do not have to have one themselves.
It is foolish for pro-life activists to go from wanting to have a conversation to unifying around what most Americans see as an extremist position. It is really bad politics. The pro-life leaders in Washington who led us to the promised land of Dobbs understand this. But herding the cats of the pro-life movement is difficult.
In Ohio, progressives are pushing a new abortion amendment to the state constitution. The amendment would go further than abortion on demand. It would also constitutionally protect sex change operations, sterilization and other medical interventions for children who are pressured or indoctrinated into declaring themselves transgender. It is natural for the pro-abortion movement, which essentially is a population control movement, to join forces with the transgender movement, which is also a population control movement.
Politically, most Americans are not as pro-life as most of the pro-life movement nor as pro-abortion as the abortion movement. Americans have repeatedly signaled they are fine prohibiting late-term abortions. They are fine requiring parental notification. But Americans still want abortion access.
We live in an increasingly hedonistic, licentious culture where, for several generations, Americans have been raised to believe they can have sex without consequence. The pro-life movement cannot legislate that away. They will still have to change hearts and minds. Being unwilling to meet Americans where they are and where they want to be will see Americans gravitate toward pro-abortion candidates and undermine all the gains made in the Dobbs decision.
The reality is that the pro-life movement is going to have to compromise. They are being outspent by left-wing organizations like the ACLU in Ohio, pushing constitutional amendments. In Wisconsin and Michigan, the pro-life movement faced setbacks as their candidates spooked voters and pro-abortionists played on those fears. Federalism is what the pro-life movement wanted. It is what they have now. They need to use it.
Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina has called for a national law to end abortion at 20 weeks. A majority of Americans have previously supported that time frame, which still puts the United States to the left of Europe, where abortion restrictions are more expansive than here. Reasonable restraints, regulations and timelines seem practical.
Likewise, the Left likes to challenge the Right with hard cases, such as a child who is raped or a mother who really might die. The Right needs to accommodate the hard cases, which tend to be the minority. Unfortunately, a lot of people on both sides are zealots and on the pro-life side, accommodation is too often seen as capitulation.
The reality is simple, however. If the pro-life movement and the Right cannot accommodate Americans’ concerns, Americans would rather go back to Roe.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.