Pro-life candidates in 2020 gained 12 seats in the US House, and tied 50-50 in the US Senate—better than expected, but in Washington we must continue to play defense through the midterm elections in 2022. Our immediate focus must therefore be on enacting state legislation, where the outlook is strongly positive. The 2020 election results further strengthened pro-life representation in state legislatures, adding 47 new state senators and 183 state representatives. Twenty-four states now have pro-life Republican majorities in both legislative houses* and Republican governors in those states. Two additional states, Kentucky and Kansas, have pro-life Republican legislatures capable of overriding a gubernatorial veto. Twenty-seven states now have Republican governors, and Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is strongly pro-life, as is the state’s GOP legislature.
Most important, thanks to the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, there is a reasonable expectation that the Supreme Court will finally address the substance of Roe and Doe and that it will uphold the constitutionality of life-saving state laws.
Among the American people in general, the Marist and other major national polls have shown consistent majority support for banning abortion after 13 weeks, absent grave threats to the life or physical health of the mother. The Court has postponed a decision on whether to examine a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, with the same exceptions. If the Court approves the Mississippi statute, which would track with strong public opinion, it’s unlikely that the Justices would be prepared to go further at this time by, for instance, approving a heartbeat bill. We should have a discussion as to whether we should prioritize passage of heartbeat bills or, alternatively, encourage state legislators to pass bills that are likely to gain the approval of the Court. We can of course promote both equally, but it is not self-evident that this is the better strategy. Lobbying lawmakers is certainly not an exact science, nor is arguing before the Supreme Court. Thus, state legislative hearings are crucial; a legislator needs to hear from his or her constituents that a bill is good in substance and has support from a significant number of citizens who will likely support the lawmaker’s re-election. Thus pro-lifers should start communicating regularly with pro-life incumbents, or with challengers if they do not have a pro-life incumbent in their district. This is neither difficult nor time-consuming; communication can be as simple as a telephone call, email, postal letter, text message, or any social media platform.
During an election year, pro-lifers should consider volunteering for one or more pro-life candidates, and let them know that the pro-life issue is the reason why the volunteer has offered to help. Volunteering can include a range of activities, such as attending rallies, townhalls, and other public events, hosting an event at one’s home and including friends and neighbors. If the local newspaper prints campaign letters to the editor, a volunteer should take advantage of the option. In the late weeks of the campaign, volunteers could offer to go door-to-door visiting voters and distributing campaign material. People who have done one or more of these things have reported making new friends and becoming more integrated in their community.
An active group of volunteers is more important than almost any other component of an election campaign. New supporters tend to come forward when they see the enthusiasm and commitment of a candidate’s volunteers.
The chances of gaining legislative and gubernatorial support for pro-life bills will be enhanced if the proposed legislation concentrates initially on what I call “the three cruelest cases”: late-term abortions (at 20 weeks), dismemberment abortions, and disability abortions—the first two inflict severe pain and suffering on the baby; the third is a blatant act of eugenic discrimination. Outlawing these atrocities is likely to be upheld in federal court; they may also be the cases the Supreme Court revisits with an eye towards overturning Roe and Doe. Recall that when the Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion, it cited the sheer cruelty of the procedure.
Pro-life individuals can have the most impact by joining their state pro-life organization(s) and taking part in election campaigns for their governor, state attorney general, and state legislators. This is not to say that national organizations are unimportant. or that they count only during presidential election years. In fact, there is a natural synergy between the national and state organizations.
This memo is a call to action in ways that can lead most directly to end the legalized killing of infants and the accompanying social and cultural degradation in our country. When we achieve that goal, the American people will once again live up to our founding declaration: the self-evident truth that the right to life is not alienable.
* The 24 states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming