The Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) forged a powerful legal weapon for the abortion industry. By fabricating a new constitutional right, the Court allowed pro-abortion activists to invalidate state laws without the political cost of building legislative coalitions. Fighting under the banner of autonomy, these activists have advanced abortion rights in the courts, costing the lives of many unborn victims.
President Trump’s conservative judicial appointments may have boosted efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and its progeny, bringing the quest to protect the unborn back into the political realm. But in the meantime, the quest to protect the unborn continues in other fronts. With both legal and spiritual weapons in the armory, faithful citizens must work together to achieve this pro-life mission.
Abortion rights have not yet displaced First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly, and religion, which have a much deeper legal provenance. These rights can shield pro-life workers who are exposing the evil residing within the abortion establishment, sharing the truth about the wonders of human development, and offering compassionate alternatives to women contemplating abortion.
David Daleiden, Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, and other committed truth-tellers have publicly exposed the abortion industry’s crass commercialism, its harm to women and their children, and its covert abuse of racial minorities. Their important work has demolished false narratives that have been used to support abortion: instead of removing a mass of tissue, abortion kills a child with a beating heart and a body like ours; instead of expressing freedom, abortion inflicts death and pain; instead of helping women, abortion is about making money from their distress. As these truths are being shared, hearts and minds are changing.
Others work quietly in pro-life pregnancy centers and serve as sidewalk counselors, offering prayers and assistance to mothers contemplating abortion. By providing a real choice to women – life for their child and freedom from the lifelong guilt delivered by abortion – their humble witness adds to the chorus of voices declaring that life is a gift from God that is worth protecting. Lives are being saved.
These efforts threaten the business of abortion. The abortion industry can and does fight back very hard, using large law firms to pursue its interests. It can afford the fight, as its coffers are filled by revenues from abortion procedures, charitable contributions from the rich and famous, and government-supplied taxpayer dollars. Proabortion state and local governments often provide additional aid. For example, California’s Attorney General filed criminal charges against David Daleiden which threaten prison time and ruinous fines in response to his undercover work exposing the abortion industry’s role in trafficking in baby body parts. Sidewalk counselors have faced similar threats from state and municipal officials who are intent on stopping them from offering life-affirming alternatives to abortion-bound women.
Good legal strategies are available to resist the abortion industry’s attacks in the courts, but quality representation and a fair defense is costly. Public-interest law firms play an important role here, as their attorneys specialize in protecting those who are carrying out the pro-life mission, deflecting the attacks of the pro-abortion establishment, and cutting away barriers that prevent the pro-life truth from advancing. They also provide important support for efforts to change laws that will advance protections for the unborn.
The abortion industry has many material advantages, including money, political power, and media support. But these advantages crumble when faithful citizens come together to dedicate their prayers, their time, and their financial resources to support the pro-life mission. Not all of us may be called to serve on the front lines of this conflict, but we can all pray and stand in solidarity by supporting others who are working tirelessly to protect the unborn.
EDWARD A. MORSE is a professor of law at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska, and a volunteer attorney and member of the board of directors of the Thomas More Society (ThomasMoreSociety.org), a national public interest law firm based on Chicago and Omaha devoted to restoring respect in law for life, the family, and religious liberty