WASHINGTON, United States – Emboldened by its landmark win at the Supreme Court, the US anti-abortion movement pivoted immediately Friday to its next goal: to have the procedure banned in each of America’s 50 states.
Declaring the end of constitutional abortion rights a “historic” victory, leaders of the largely Christian conservative “pro-life” movement declared a new phase, in which they would focus at the local level to get state legislatures to end the practice.
But some also said their ultimate goal would be to return to the Supreme Court for a ruling that would give fetuses the same rights as a person, which would equate abortion with murder.
“An entirely new pro-life movement begins today,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America campaign — vowing to go on the “offensive for life in every single one of those legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House.”
“Over the next few years we will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives by limiting the horror of abortion in many states.”
Other groups echoed that view.
“While it’s a major step in the right direction, overturning Roe does not end abortion,” said the March for Life group in a statement.
– Battle in the states –
Part of their goal has already been achieved, with the conservative-dominated Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion.
More than half of all states are now poised to severely restrict or outlaw the practice, 13 of them through so-called “trigger” laws that come into effect almost immediately, based on the high court’s decision.
Within hours of the ruling, Missouri banned abortion — making no exception for rape or incest — and so did South Dakota, except where the life of the mother is at risk.
But a handful of others are moving in the opposite direction, with the most populous state of California pledging jointly with Oregon and Washington to defend abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
And so both anti-abortion and abortion rights groups girded for more localized battles, in legislatures, local courts and local elections.
March for Life immediately sent out a fundraising email to boost its local efforts.
“To say that we are elated would be an understatement, but our work does not stop here,” they said of the Supreme Court decision.
They pointed to work by supporters of abortion rights to press for federal legislation and for White House orders protecting access across the country — to justify continued mobilization by their own camp.
“With your support, we have reached the most monumental moment in pro-life history, and we are more energized than ever to continue the fight for life,” they said.
Dannenfelser said her group’s focus includes the legislative elections coming up in November, when Republicans hope to take control from Democrats of the Senate and House of Representatives.
“Today’s outcome raises the stakes of the midterm elections,” she said.
– ‘Personhood’ –
But the movement has broader horizons, hoping ultimately to persuade Congress or the Supreme Court to fully outlaw abortions on the grounds that a fetus or embryo has the same federally protected rights as a person.
“Throughout human history, countless groups of humans have been unjustly deprived of the status of ‘personhood,’ by both society and the law,” said March for Life. “Abortion is no different.”
“We want abortion abolition,” said Americans United for Life.
“We must clarify, as a constitutional matter as much as a matter of fundamental justice, that abortion shall not exist in the United States of America,” the group’s president, Catherine Glenn Foster, said in a statement.