Post Roe, anti-abortion groups focus efforts on the state level

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Anti-abortion groups are focusing their efforts on state legislatures in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

March for Life, a group that organizes a yearly national march in Washington, D.C., against abortion, will start to focus its activism more on the state level, Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, told The Hill.

In the next year, the group wants to double the number of state marches they have and “over the course of the next five to six years aggressively and quickly grow our state marches program to be in all 50 states,” Mancini said.

Mallory Carroll, vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told The Hill the organization plans to focus their efforts in states where they believe they could see progress with anti-abortion legislation.

“We’ve prioritized plans in states that we believed and are indeed are being most ambitious right away to protect unborn human life and thereby limiting abortion so women are needing more services,” she said. “The status quo is unlikely to change for women in states like California, Illinois, New York and Maryland.”

The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a huge victory for the anti-abortion movement. The 1973 landmark decision previously hindered activists’ ability to see progress on advocacy for anti-abortion laws at the state level.

“Now, our abortion abolition work, which is to ensure complete legal protections for preborn children, has even more significance because we can actually achieve that in a number of states,” Lila Rose, CEO of Live Action, said.

Democratic-led states will likely keep abortion access legal after the ruling, and some made moves before the overturning of Roe v. Wade to expand access to abortion. But, more than 10 states have already banned or heavily restricted abortion in the weeks since the court’s ruling.

Along with targeted state efforts, anti-abortion groups say the need for education is a crucial to combat misinformation they say emerged after Roe was overturned.

The groups say that they are looking to push back against the claim that laws that restrict abortion would criminalize miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies — a pregnancy where the fertilized egg cannot live outside the mother’s womb and could cause serious health risks for the mother.

“Elective abortion is not treating an ectopic pregnancy. Elective abortion is not treating a miscarriage. There’s a huge need for education what what an elective abortion is,” Donna Harrison, chief executive officer at the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said.

She said a vast majority of OBGYNs do not perform abortions, but they “will still be taking care of miscarriages and be taking care of ectopics like we all do.”

When asked how to reach women and individuals who were against the overturning of Roe, anti-abortion groups believe combating misinformation is key.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding now, a lot of fear,” Rose said. “Our job is to go out there with the facts, with powerful stories and connect people to resources to bring truth and light to the situation.”

Anti-abortion groups say they will also continue to provide resources and support to women going through unplanned pregnancies, particularly targeting states passing anti-abortion laws like Mississippi and Georgia.

We’re “working to build up connections between the pregnancy centers and other existing private and public resources that are available along a spectrum of care that women may need to help them choose life,” Carroll said.

The groups would like to provide women with a list of items including: state investment in child care, help in an abusive relationship, transportation, diapers and strollers.

But amid a refocused push for anti-abortion legislation at the state level, advocates say their word isn’t done on the national front.

Rose said each state should not have the right to make their own abortion laws, further stating that a constitutional amendment needs to enshrine anti-abortion law for the country.

“We have the 14th Amendment, but it’s a matter the Supreme Court does need to acknowledge, in the future, that the right to life is not something to be decided on by democracies in different states, it’s an absolute right,” Rose said.

This week, President Biden unveiled an executive order aimed at preserving some access abortion services, but added that Congress has the ultimate power to effect change on the issue now.

“If you want to change the circumstance for women, and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote,” Biden said.

Mancini says March for Life will continue to have their national march yearly as she “anticipates that our legislative battles at the federal level will be many.”

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