In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court will consider—for the first time since Roe v. Wade—allowing state abortion bans based on gestational limits. As a tragic consequence of Roe, abortion on-demand has come to operate silently in the background of American life, largely accepted as the status quo by the generations born since 1973. Many say that Roe is settled law, but what the law is and whether it’s actually settled (spoiler: It’s not) are questions the abortion industry and its political allies would prefer to leave untouched.
With the Supreme Court potentially on the brink of reversing Roe v. Wade, Roe’s defenders are in a situation much like that of The Wizard of Oz’s “man behind the curtain.” They have been operating a powerful-looking propaganda machine churning out innocuous-sounding ideas like “a woman’s right to choose” for decades, hoping no one pulls back the curtain to reveal the truth and drain the puppet master of his influence over public opinion. The abortion movement knows that the ground on which it stands is weak, and its worst nightmare is that ordinary Americans will come to know the extent of abortion violence permitted under law in the United States. To pave the way toward the public embrace of a victory in Dobbs, Americans need to talk about Roe.
Polling on American sentiment toward abortion consistently finds a bizarre contradiction: Many more Americans support the vague concept of Roe (the “right to choose”) than they do the actual tenets of Roe (abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, and often funded by taxpayers). The most recent Gallup polling finds that 58 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade (while 32 percent support overturning it), but only 32 percent of the same group believe that abortion should be “legal in all circumstances” (as it is under Roe). That means there’s a huge discrepancy between Americans saying they support Roe and understanding that Roe is synonymous with abortion being “legal in all circumstances.”
But even the 32 percent statistic appears to be an overestimation of support for Roe when contrasted with the same pollster’s findings in 2018, when Gallup revealed that only 13 percent of Americans support abortion in the third trimester. It is simply not possible for 58 percent of Americans to support Roe if only 13 percent of Americans support third-trimester abortions. Skewed polling like this, which fails to ensure that Americans know what they are expressing support for when they endorse Roe v. Wade, along with a media complicit in the misdirection, have culminated in the propagandistic claim that Roe is settled. It is anything but settled.
Those working to win Americans over to the pro-life position are not up against massive support for Roe v. Wade. Rather, they are up against Americans not knowing what Roe v. Wade permits—and they need to return the conversation to exposing Roe in order to neutralize the Dobbs fearmongers.
For proof of how tenuous the abortion industry’s grasp on American abortion opinion is, just look to Nancy Pelosi, one of the most ardent acolytes for Roe v. Wade. Pelosi is so afraid to discuss the realities of the ruling that she refuses to even engage with reporters on the subject. When asked at a press conference whether a 15-week-old preborn child is a human being, Pelosi didn’t own up to the Supreme Court decision she claims to embrace by stating that, “Yes, a 15-week-old baby is a human being who can be legally killed for any reason in any state.” Instead, Pelosi did what Roe’s defenders always do: ignored the damning question and pledged fealty to Roe. “Let me just say that I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi said, before citing her own five children as her bizarre credential for taking such a draconian position on the killing of innocent children. She then ignored follow-up questions and called on the next reporter.
By pledging fealty to Roe instead of engaging in conversation about it, defenders of the ruling reveal that their kryptonite is exposure of the facts about Roe. They don’t want Americans to know that the U.S. is among only seven nations permitting the killing of preborn children past 20 weeks of pregnancy—something that even the Washington Post admits is true. Among these fellow governments are the notorious human rights abusers North Korea and Communist China. And in the U.S., Roe permits abortion not just past 20 weeks, but up until the very moment of birth.
Leading up to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the abortion industry and its mainstream media and pop culture allies will not be objectively analyzing the legal merits of Roe (spoiler: There are none). Instead, the pro-life movement should be prepared for frenetic, panic-inducing coverage characterizing Roe’s impending demise as the biggest setback for women in modern history—a “dystopian nightmare” for U.S. women and girls. According to our opponents, rape survivors will be left destitute, women carrying children diagnosed with fetal “anomalies” will be forced to subject them to unnecessary suffering, and the opportunities women have gained over the last century will vanish without the right to kill their children. They’ll claim that women will have to forgo career and education goals, and will frame this as a loss of “autonomy” over their bodies and an exertion of “control” by the “religious right.” In other words, abortion allies will unleash every trick in their abortion marketing playbook with greater ferocity than Americans have probably ever seen. It will be an onslaught.
Of course, the pro-life movement has debunked these claims ad nauseam. Pro-life Americans needn’t be overwhelmed by the noise, but they must be prepared to demand accountability on the questions the abortion industry and its allies have spent 48 years deflecting. Remember: The abortion lobby can only argue that reversing Roe is bad if Americans first accept the premise that Roe itself is good. Rather than trying to play defense against the apocalyptic projections Big Abortion will make about the reversal of Roe, pro-life Americans need only bring the conversation back to Roe itself, forcing Roe’s defenders to actually defend Roe.
The Pro-Life Generation has the upper hand in the court of public opinion leading up to the Dobbs ruling and the potential end of Roe. Now is not the time to squander it by letting the abortion industry dictate the terms of the public conversation around abortion.