“Is your state next?”

— NARAL email after passage of the
South Dakota abortion ban

by Rod D. Martin
April 20, 2006

They lost the Congress in 1994.

They lost the presidency in 2000 and failed to recapture it in 2004.

They watched helplessly as President George W. Bush reinstituted Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy defunding international abortion providers; ended federal abortion counseling funding; signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act; opposed the destruction of embryos for stem cell research; challenged Oregon’s doctor-assisted suicide act; backed abstinence education, crisis pregnancy programs and parental notification laws; extended state health care coverage to “unborn children” (yes, that’s the wording of the law); and signed a federal ban on partial-birth abortion.

They railed hysterically against the President’s overwhelmingly qualified choices of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court — the latter a replacement for retiring pro-choice Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. They stood despondent at the probability that these would not be the President’s last nominees.

And with South Dakota’s recent enactment of the most pro-life law in America — one that’s certain to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and invite a revisiting of 1973’s Roe vs. Wade — pro-abortion activists find themselves shell-shocked. From their perspective, it’s been a nightmarish decade, and George W. Bush is the absolute worst President they could have possibly imagined.

Yes, by every conceivable measure, America is rejecting the pro-abortion movement’s absolutist regime of abortion on demand.

The proof is in the pudding. For more than a decade, the number of abortions performed each year has been declining. Vast numbers who were “pro-choice” before the partial-birth abortion debate have come to see the pro-life light, and — for the first time since Roe — a clear majority of America’s women reject the idea of a legal “right” to kill one’s own child.

And now comes a USA Today article demonstrating that pro-abortion extremism is in even more trouble still. Based largely on data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, it calculates what’s likely to happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion becomes a state-by-state issue again.

The results are stunning, and stunningly better than most pro-lifers think.

Only 16 states are likely to continue abortion on demand — any time, any place, for any reason — after Roe. As you might expect, they include every state on the West Coast and almost every state in the Northeast, but only a third of the U.S. population.


By contrast, 22 states containing half of all Americans either already have enacted or are overwhelmingly likely to enact either complete or near-complete abortion bans, recognizing that the unborn child is a person, deserving of basic human rights like any other. Another 12 states are toss-ups. Once Roe is overturned, all of them could be “in play” for pro-life forces. And this two-thirds of America’s population is just four states shy of the 38 necessary to change the United States Constitution, recognizing babies as fully human just as the 13th Amendment recognized blacks.

Come to think of it, the Republican Party — founded one hundred and fifty years ago this June — enacted the 13th Amendment too.

The USA Today map suggests an immediate state-by-state strategy, pushing the envelope relentlessly, protecting preborn life “to the maximum extent consistent with federal law” in the words of several states’ pro-life constitutional amendments, designed to trigger upon Roe’s demise.

Pro-lifers should fight right now for these “Unborn Child Amendments” everywhere they can, and for laws like South Dakota’s as well. Win or lose, just fighting the fight will rally the troops, force pro-abortion groups onto defense — spending precious time and treasure just to stay even — and raise the public awareness necessary for future, ultimate victory.

Now — with Roe on the ropes — is the time to pursue this strategy in earnest. We must: not just to ensure real post-Roe change, but also to lay the groundwork for what once seemed utterly impossible — a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to life.

An uphill battle? Of course. An impossible one? Not any more.

And that’s just the point. Why, precisely, are we on defense, on this or any other issue? Election after election, Americans have spoken. They want conservative government. They want meaningful change. And if they’re angry at their Congressional leadership, it’s because they no longer see a willingness to take on the big issues of principle and fight.

This fight is far from over; but pro-lifers have come a lot farther than most anyone thinks. The left is on the ropes; and we know what to do. It’s time to go finish the job.


UPDATE: Pro-abortion USA Today founder Al Neuharth makes a wonderful point — and stretches far across the gulf dividing us all — in a short piece here.