How NOT to respond to a Roe reversal

By Phil Lawler ( bio – articles – email ) | May 04, 2022

If the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision—as this week’s stunning leak suggests it will—here are some mistakes that pro-life advocates should avoid:
  1. Do not accept the liberal narrative that the Court has thwarted the democratic process. That’s what happened in 1973, when the Roe ruling, in a staggering act of judicial arrogance, struck down laws that had been enacted by the people’s duly elected representatives in all 50 states. By reversing the Roe error, the Court has restored voters’ rights. If abortion advocates truly believe in the democratic process, they should not be worried. Laws restricting abortion will be enacted only if the people support them.
  2. Do not be distracted by the hunt for the Supreme Court leaker. We don’t know who was responsible for this unprecedented breach of security, and speculation will not advance the cause. These insights from a former Supreme Court clerk offer confidence that a serious investigation should identify the source of the leak. Let that process run its course. Meanwhile do not be surprised if—now that a nasty precedent has been established—more leaks follow.
  3. Do not argue on the terms set by the abortion lobby. (And bear in mind that the mass media should be counted as an arm of that lobby.) Specifically:
    • Do not concede that most Americans support the Roe decision. Unfortunately, most Americans do not understand what Roe demanded. When asked whether they support unrestricted legal abortion on demand—the practical result of the Roe decision—the vast majority of Americans say No.
    • Do not allow attacks on the integrity of the Supreme Court to pass unchallenged. Do the people who condemn the Court’s decision as “illegitimate” deserve any better treatment than those who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election? When Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say that the justices have “ripped up the Constitution,” they are speaking irresponsibly, encouraging contempt for government institutions, and should be called to task.
    • Do not concede that the question of when human life begins is a religious question. Tell your interlocutors to “Follow the science.” (More on that below.)
  4. Do not be intimidated. Be prepared to face irrational anger, threats, and even violence. The Left will not accept defeat on this issue. Do not enter into the public debate if you are frightened—or if you are tempted toward violent outbursts yourself.
  5. Do not expect equal treatment. Media coverage will be biased; opponents will deliberately distort your position. (People who defend killing are not likely to quibble about lies.) Don’t waste your time complaining about double-standards; they are a fact of life.
  6. Don’t be embarrassed about imposing a “litmus test.” (Ask a chemist; litmus tests are very useful.) Don’t vote for a pro-abortion candidate in any election, even if abortion is not a factor. A local official might not have any voice on the abortion issue now, but who knows where his future political career will take him? (When I was a political candidate in 2000, a seasoned GOP operative was very supportive, until he learned that I was pro-life; then he bailed out, telling me that he opposed litmus tests—thereby imposing a litmus test of his own.)
  7. Do not proclaim victory. A Supreme Court reversal of Roe does not hand the pro-life movement a victory; it only allows pro-lifers a fighting chance in what will be a bruising political battle. We will win only when abortion is banned in the states where we live, and eventually throughout the nation. As Hadley Arkes has observed, the Alito decision points toward—but does not insist upon—the clear biological evidence that an unborn child is a human being. Arkes remarks: “He leaves us then to draw the conclusion that should be obvious, to those open to seeing: that this child in the womb deserves the protection we would accord to all other human lives under the laws on homicide.”

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