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One Year After Dobbs, a Reflection on the Overturn of Roe v. Wade

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Please describe the circumstances surrounding your discovery of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The historic event, made possible by the Dobbs decision, is indelibly etched in the minds of many of us who have struggled for so long and with such fervour to see Roe eliminated. The reflections that follow are those of those who will never forget the elation they felt when the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision was finally and mercifully overturned.

There are two instances in my life that I will always remember as being particularly significant. One such event was walking across town during the 11 September terrorist attacks. The other event was attending the National Right to Life Convention in Atlanta last year, when the Dobbs opinion was finally issued. I was present at a morning seminar which, somewhat ironically, focused on the potential implications of so-called “trigger bans” should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. As the draft opinion had been leaked weeks before, attendees were on high alert for possible protests or worse during the convention. [I recall having unintentionally traversed an impassive pro-abortion demonstration at City Hall in Philadelphia the week prior.]

Upon Dobbs’s descent, the only audible sound emanating from within the conference room was the anguished wailing of those gathered in the hallway. While I initially feared the worst, upon reflection I came to appreciate how fortunate I was to be present at that pivotal moment in the national pro-life movement. After a period of 50 years, the majority of us believed that the day would never come when we could walk in a country not darkened by the shadow of Roe.

As I embraced my colleagues from across the country in a gesture of relief, I observed the tears of both joy and sorrow among women who had endured this traumatic experience to witness this day of triumph. It is regrettable that the work in Pennsylvania is not yet complete, but at least we are aware that the scales of justice are tipping in our favour. —Christopher Eric Pushaw, Esq., Executive Director & General Counsel, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Meanwhile, Michael Ciccocioppo, who served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation from 2002 to 2022, was also in attendance at the National Right to Life Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, when the Roe v. Wade decision was overturned.

On Friday morning, 24 June 2022, the prevailing opinion was that the Supreme Court would not issue a final decision in the Dobbs case until Monday morning. The opening session of the annual convention commenced as scheduled.

One aspect that was unusual was the number of representatives from the news media present. I was present at the majority of these conventions during my 21-year tenure at the Federation. The news media typically failed to report on our gatherings. However, this year saw a notable increase in the number of news outlets present and covering the convention. The media sought to ascertain the stance of the nation’s pre-eminent pro-life organisation on the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, and they sought to obtain first-hand accounts of our reactions, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

I was monitoring the situation in Washington on my mobile telephone. Upon the announcement of the decision, I promptly departed the convention room to conduct a series of telephone calls. Maura Sirianni, a reporter from www.NEWSY.com, was in the hallway with a camera operator. I was the first individual she encountered. She inquired as to whether she might conduct an immediate interview with me on the air to elicit my reaction to the Supreme Court decision. I consented to this course of action. She consulted by telephone with her producers and, within minutes, conducted a brief microphone check before commencing the interview. Her initial inquiry was whether I was surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. I informed her that I had not been surprised. I proceeded to elucidate that I had been informing audiences for over two decades that the Roe v. Wade decision would be overturned. What was most surprising was that it took 49 years for this to occur.

Maryann Lawhon, a veteran of the pro-life movement, oversees a life-affirming outreach initiative called The Voice of John. On the day of the Dobbs decision, she was present at the church.

It is difficult to fathom the extent of the shock and disbelief that would be experienced by many when they learned that the United States Supreme Court had overturned the U.S. constitutional right to abortion.

I was overcome with emotion as I sat alone in disbelief, tears flowing freely. I wept for John, for the 63 million children who have died, and for the mothers who have been wounded. These tears are shed for the lives that would be saved. There was an overwhelming sense of hope, accompanied by a simultaneous questioning of the nature of the “constitutional right” that they were alluding to.

On that day, a civil rights victory was achieved, yet it was evident that our work was not yet complete. On that day, I prostrated myself before my statue of the Sacred Heart and recited the words from 2 Chronicles: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I felt emboldened to persevere in the struggle; I felt privileged to have played a modest role in the most significant civil rights conflict in history. May God protect the people.

Bonnie Finnerty previously held the position of Education Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. The following are her insights:

It is not uncommon for individuals to come to appreciate the significance of a particular event many years or even decades after it occurred. This was not the case with the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The implications of the Dobbs decision were swiftly apparent, and for those who advocate for the rights of the unborn, it was a moment of immense joy.

I was present at the National Right to Life Convention when the news was made public. As hundreds of us were listening to a presentation inside a large ballroom, an excited voice from the hallway suddenly proclaimed, “Roe is overturned!”

A pervasive silence descended upon the assembly. And then the dam broke. The attendees expressed their joyous emotions through exclamations, tearful hugs, and prayers of thanksgiving. We were jubilant at the prospect of a long-awaited and hard-fought victory.

As a relatively recent addition to the movement, I observed that many in the room had overcome significant challenges and experienced numerous setbacks as they sought to restore legal protection of the unborn. Nevertheless, they persevered, investing considerable time and effort over a period of 30, 40, or even 50 years, in anticipation of this precise moment.

This was the pinnacle of their professional endeavours. The efforts they had invested in advocating for the fundamental right to life were now bearing fruit. I was overcome with gratitude for their unwavering commitment to justice. I am profoundly grateful for such heroic figures. They are the civil rights champions of our generation.

While the attendees of the convention remained jubilant, there was an acknowledgment that the struggle is not yet over, but rather in a state of flux.

Nevertheless, a new day has dawned. A new hope is emerging. The pro-life movement is currently experiencing its most vibrant and robust period in its history.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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