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After Roe V. Wade: What's next for the anti-abortion movement?


If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade next month, it'll be a huge win for groups opposed to abortion. Overturning that landmark decision has been the motivating force for groups like the National Right to Life Committee for decades. So if they do notch this victory, we wanted to know, where will they focus their efforts next? Carol Tobias is president of the National Right to Life Committee and she joins us now. Welcome.

CAROL TOBIAS: Thanks, Adrian.

FLORIDO: The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe is just that, a draft, but assuming it holds, where does your organization go next?

TOBIAS: So we are going to work with the states to see what kind of legislation they can pass. We are going to continue our educational efforts because we realize that there are still many in the country that are unaware of the humanity of the unborn child. Or maybe they are, but don't quite see the need for protecting that innocent life. So we still have a big battle ahead of us.

FLORIDO: What kind of abortion restrictions does your group, the NRLC, support, a total ban on abortions, a ban after conception?

TOBIAS: Our ideal position would be abortion only if the mother's life is in danger. Our reasoning is that we want to protect as many babies as we can as soon as we can. So some of the states are not going to be where we are, obviously, but we'll see if there are some limits, some protections that we can get through.

FLORIDO: What about forms of contraception like IUDs that can theoretically prevent an embryo from implanting into the uterus?

TOBIAS: We would encourage women to talk to their medical provider. And if this is any form - that it's labeled contraception, but it might actually work after fertilization has taken place and a new life is forming, we would encourage them to talk to the medical provider and find out how it works, and if it is going to end the life of that newborn being, then don't do it.

FLORIDO: But will you be advocating for forms of contraception like IUDs to be criminalized?

TOBIAS: That, quite frankly, is one of the ones - it's hard to really know what what is happening. And I don't know how that would ever be regulated or monitored. You know, we're just going to encourage people to choose life for their babies.

FLORIDO: Do you think that women who violate abortion bans in their state should go to prison?

TOBIAS: No, no. In many cases, quite frankly, they are the victims. Many of them will say that they got the abortion because their partner pushed them to do it. We certainly know that there are women who go through it knowing full well what is happening. Our goal is to get abortionists to stop killing babies. We have never advocated for penalties for women.

FLORIDO: People choose abortions for many reasons. Some women just don't want a baby. Some don't have the means or support structure to raise a child. And yet, our country doesn't have a whole lot of federal policies like family leave, guaranteed daycare, preschool, a child tax credit that a lot of advocates believe would actually make it possible for Americans to raise children, especially middle income and low-income families. What kind of lobbying have you done for these sorts of family-friendly policies?

TOBIAS: I'm actually pleased that we are starting to see much more action from the states in programs to help a woman in need. There are several of them, like Missouri has a Show-Me Healthy Babies program that would, you know, provide health care and support for a woman and a newborn child. Oklahoma and Arkansas have Every Mom Matters Act. We've got states like Texas and South Carolina actually providing health care for a new mom and her baby, you know, for the first couple of years of life, in-home nursing visits to make sure that everything is going OK. There is certainly more that we can and should do so that no woman would think abortion is her best or only option.

FLORIDO: The the anti-abortion movement has been very closely aligned with the Republican Party, which generally has rejected strengthening the social safety net. Do you think that Republicans will have an obligation to do that if Roe is overturned?

TOBIAS: I think we are seeing much more receptiveness from them in those lines. And I know for much of it, it's, you know, we only have so much money and, you know, how is it going to be spent? We would certainly encourage them to make moms and their babies a priority when they're looking at various programs.

FLORIDO: Carol Tobias is president of the National Right to Life Committee. Thank you for joining us.

TOBIAS: My pleasure. Thanks, Adrian. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.
Linah Mohammad
Prior to joining NPR in 2022, Mohammad was a producer on The Washington Post's daily flagship podcast Post Reports, where her work was recognized by multiple awards. She was honored with a Peabody award for her work on an episode on the life of George Floyd.
Sarah Handel
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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