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June 24, 2024

Dobbs at Two: Defending Life in the Post-Roe Era

Dobbs at Two: Defending Life in the Post-Roe Era

June 24, 2024
Kathryn Pluta
June 24, 2024

Dobbs at Two: Defending Life in the Post-Roe Era

On June 24th, we celebrate the fall of Roe v. Wade

Two years ago, on June 24, 2022, the beginning of the end of abortion in the United States took place when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that there is no constitutional “right to abortion.” This decision overruled the erroneous precedents set by Roe v. Wade—called “egregiously wrong” by the Court majority—and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey. This watershed ruling, ending the regime of Roe, tilled the soil for a life-affirming cultural shift. Correctly, the Court determined that a so-called “right to abortion” is not protected by our Constitution and that abortion is not necessary for “ordered liberty”—deciding to send back to the states the abortion question.

There is still more to be done before the preborn enjoy full and complete protection under our law, both at the state and federal level—but the end of abortion began with Dobbs.

When Dobbs was still being considered by the Supreme Court, Thomas More Society filed two amici curiae briefs to our nation’s highest court, to buttress the arguments against legal abortion. Thomas Brejcha, Founder and President, with Paul Linton, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Thomas More Society, detailing how the legal abortion regime as invented by Roe was not a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution, and indefensible as a matter of law and history. Also, on behalf of Illinois Right to Life, Thomas More Society’s Joan Mannix and Thomas Olp filed an amicus brief arguing that all preborn human beings are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Roe v. Wade was the greatest barrier we faced in the fight for an abortion-free America. We celebrated a great victory for life that sunny day in June 2022, and we reflect with gratitude on those whose fervent prayer and tireless advocacy led to this victory. However, the battles for life across the country have multiplied ever since the ruling in Dobbs. Today, we face 50 state battlegrounds, plus the federal battlefield. The abortion lobby and industry has grown radicalized and has pushed back with renewed determination against pro-life efforts. After Dobbs, we’re busier than ever defending pro-life advocates, challenging unconstitutional laws, and protecting pregnancy centers.

Protecting pro-life pregnancy centers

Pro-abortion state attorneys general, like Letitia James in New York and Rob Bonta in California, are coming after pro-life pregnancy centers by using state “deceptive business practices” regulations—seeking to censor lifesaving information about Abortion Pill Reversal. They’re waging illegal lawfare against Heartbeat International and pregnancy centers that exist to serve women and their children, suing these centers for ‘misinformation’ about Abortion Pill Reversal—a science-backed, safe, and effective treatment protocol that gives pregnant women the opportunity to counteract the abortion pill, mifepristone. Simply put, they want to keep pregnant women who regret their chemical abortion in the dark and silence information that gives them a second chance at choosing life for their child.

These baseless accusations will not hold against the truth, and Thomas More Society will continue to fight back against James and Bonta until our heroic pregnancy centers are able provide their lifesaving care without fear and legal persecution.

Our victory, for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and Illinois’ pro-life ministries, should be a cautionary tale for state leaders seeking to target pro-life pregnancy centers. In 2023, Illinois politicians, spearheaded by state Attorney General Kwame Raoul attempted to define the pro-life speech of pregnancy centers as “deceptive” and as “misinformation.” Thomas More Society, representing NIFLA and other pro-life ministries in the Land of Lincoln, challenged the state law, known as SB 1909, and won a critical court order blocking it within a week of Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature. The federal judge in the case called the law “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional.” The state of Illinois ultimately surrendered its battle to target these pro-life ministries with financially ruinous prosecution, and agreed to a permanent injunction that blocked the enforcement of SB 1909.

Such baseless accusations and lawsuits against pregnancy centers will not hold against the truth, and Thomas More Society will continue to fight back against James and Bonta until our heroic pregnancy centers are able to provide their lifesaving care without fear and legal persecution.

Saving lives on the sidewalk post-Dobbs

Now, more than ever, it is crucial for the pro-life movement to step up and offer support and alternatives to abortion-minded women. The sidewalk outside of an abortion business is both frontline and the last line of defense in the battle for life.

Discriminatory buffer and bubble zones are implemented to restrict the lifesaving ministry of pro-life sidewalk counselors. These zones, like the bubble zone law Thomas More Society is challenging in Coalition Life v. Carbondale, restrict sidewalk counselors’ ability to reach abortion-minded women entering or exiting an abortion facility—limiting their ability to effectively offer alternatives to abortion, and be a compassionate and encouraging presence for abortion-minded women. Bubble zones unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of pro-life advocates by making it difficult for sidewalk counselors to share information about free, life-affirming resources such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, Abortion Pill Reversal, material support, and parenting classes—forcing women to feel trapped with no option besides an abortion.

Thomas More Society is now preparing to appeal Coalition Life v. Carbondale to the Supreme Court. We will be asking the high Court to overturn the erroneous precedent set in Hill v. Colorado. Since Dobbs, the landscape has shifted dramatically, and the time to overturn Hill has finally come. The Court itself signaled that Roe’s demise should lead to a reevaluation of precedent that suffers from what the Court called the“ abortion distortion.” In terms of First Amendment principles distorted by Roe, the Court singled out Hill v. Colorado—which permitted certain bubble zones to remain on the books—as the leading example of a case influenced by Roe’s “abortion distortion” factor.

If Hill is overturned, pro-life sidewalk counseling will be revolutionized, and sidewalk counselors across the country will have their constitutional rights restored, and their ability to effectively counsel abortion-minded women strengthened. Post-Dobbs, we will continue to fight for pro-life advocates in the courtroom so that they can continue defending the defenseless on the sidewalk.

Defending peaceful pro-lifers against the Department of Justice

In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe, the Biden Department of Justice’s targeting of peaceful pro-lifers with FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act charges has been kicked into overdrive. The Biden DOJ has reached back in time to pro-life activities before Dobbs, to pursue weaponized prosecutions against peaceful pro-lifers. The most prominent case was its first headline-grabbing overreach—the DOJ’s weaponized prosecution of pro-life father Mark Houck. Thomas More Society successfully defeated the DOJ’s FACE Act charges and won Mark a full acquittal by jury in January 2023.

But the DOJ has now also sought to prosecute its FACE Act cases in combination with 10-year felony “Conspiracy Against Rights” charges—upping maximum federal prison time for a FACE Act violation from 6 months or 1 year to up to 11 years.

Courageous pro-lifers like Paul Vaughn and Lauren Handy answered the call to minister to these women, peacefully and prayerfully acting as voices for the voiceless. Tragically, the Biden DOJ has weaponized the unconstitutional FACE Act to pin pro-life advocates with trumped-up charges to restrict their free speech and non-violent advocacy. Lauren Handy, for her peaceful civil disobedience in defense of life, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. Thomas More Society is appealing on her behalf and on the behalf of several other co-defendants.

Vaughn, a pro-life father of 11, faces sentencing on July 2, 2024, on the same charges, which together carry up to 11 years in prison. Thomas More Society aims to challenge the constitutionality of the FACE Act and the abuse of the “Conspiracy Against Rights” statute, which is known as the “KKK Act,” as it was originally passed after the Civil War to protect the voting rights of freed slaves against reprisals from members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Towards an abortion-free future

Thanks to the tireless work of abolitionists, our nation eventually awakened to the evil of slavery and instilled basic protections in law for those deprived of them. So, too, we pray will happen with abortion. The day will come when our work to abolish abortion will bear fruit. We will be awakened—indeed, our national conscience is already awakening—to the evil of abortion, and we continue to fight for a day when the preborn will finally be granted full and equal legal protection. Today, on the anniversary of Dobbs, we recommit, in a spirit of perseverance and hope, to defending the right to life—the right without which all other rights mean nothing.