Congress has a crucial role to play in the movement to save preborn children from the violence of abortion. For decades, Republicans have campaigned on the pro-life position and relied on the pro-life movement’s support to win elections. Pro-life voters are an extremely motivated constituency who show up for their champions.
The unconscionable Supreme Court edict of Roe v. Wade had imposed abortion on demand for any reason throughout the entire political career of every current officeholder. This policy was so radical that only a handful of nations, like China and North Korea, shared it. The courts effectively blocked elected lawmakers from implementing any significant protections for unborn children.
Now, the pro-life movement’s longtime goal of removing the No. 1 obstacle to protecting life in America has become a reality. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court corrected the egregious errors of its past in its Dobbs decision.
Legislators across the country, not unelected judges, are finally free to enact pro-life policies. They are free to act on the will of their constituents and enact laws that safeguard unborn children and women from abortion. Two dozen states have already acted and could potentially save 200,000 innocent lives a year. These actions are also popular. For example, data shows that 55% of Texans support their state law protecting preborn life once a heartbeat can be detected.
But still, the preborn and their mothers remain totally unprotected in pro-abortion states where more than half the country’s abortions occur. Too many self-identified pro-life elected leaders have adopted an impotent position, leaving this pivotal human rights issue solely to the discretion of state governments. They have taken the stance, either directly or inferentially by their actions, that Congress is now powerless to stop the violent deaths of millions of children.
That position is morally and politically untenable. As repeatedly affirmed by Republican presidents and platforms from Ronald Reagan onward, as well as Republican members of Congress themselves who voted for federal limits on abortion even before Dobbs, federal lawmakers play a critical role in protecting human life in our great nation. Any leader who proclaims to be pro-life must work to pass meaningful federal protections for innocent human life.
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Part of the problem is the confusion surrounding what the Supreme Court actually said in the Dobbs decision. Some have misinterpreted the court’s return of the issue of abortion to the people as a message to federal lawmakers that they were to have no role in the process going forward. That view is unfounded and incorrect. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in Dobbs, “Our decision returns the issue of abortion to those legislative bodies, and it allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office.”
Even clearer, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his concurrence that Dobbs rightly places the issue of abortion with “the people and their elected representatives to resolve through the democratic process in the States or Congress.” Congress is mentioned explicitly because our national legislature has just as legitimate a policymaking role in protecting life as state legislatures have.
If the Supreme Court has expressly recognized Congress’ authority to act to save lives from abortion, then why are even proudly pro-life politicians reluctant to move the legislative ball forward? The evidence suggests fear – fear that working to pass federal pro-life protections now will lead to backlash from voters. (Such fears have not stopped Democrats from introducing federal legislation to mandate abortion on demand and up until birth nationwide.)
A prime example of a candidate who ran away from the issue in the general election and failed was Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who categorically refused to back federal legislation in the only televised debate.
Midterm victories by pro-life candidates who embraced pro-life laws rather than shied away from them should dispel this fear. Moreover, candidates’ abandonment of the positions and voters who elect them is a losing strategy.
The pro-life men and women of Congress should ignore bad advice and media narratives. They must work to strategically and effectively pass pro-life laws at the federal level. Leveraging a national debate to educate the public about the humanity of the unborn will be a net benefit politically.
Pro-life political leaders will determine their future in office by the actions they take today. The pro-life movement has high expectations and will not settle for an elected leadership class that hopes to earn their votes at election time without following through and behaving like true leaders afterward. Especially in these first critical years of the new Dobbs era and looking ahead toward the presidency, Congress is in a position to effect real change and save millions of lives. Courage in this fight will be long remembered, but to squander the opportunity would be political malpractice and a human tragedy like no other in our lifetimes.
LifeNews Note: Lila Rose is the founder and president of Live Action. Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of SBA Pro-Life America. This column originally appeared at FoxNews.