On May 17, 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take up a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion restriction, pro-life advocates and organizations across the nation rejoiced. The prospect of a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade that could fundamentally change abortion jurisprudence and return the debate to the states was something the pro-life movement had been waiting for since Roe was issued nearly 50 years ago.
The ruling from the Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected soon, and many in the pro-life movement are hopeful that Roe could be trimmed, if not overturned in full. But what would a “post-Roe” world look like? How would it change the work of these advocates who have built an entire movement in the shadow of Roe?
We asked two of the leaders in the pro-life movement for their thoughts on what challenges lie ahead and how we can continue to help build a life-affirming culture long after Dobbs has been decided, regardless of the outcome of that case.
“Pregnancy help will be as necessary as ever,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, a network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. and the largest and most expansive in the world. Godsey noted that if Roe is overturned or severely reduced in scope, many women who have been conditioned to see abortion as the only logical option for an unexpected pregnancy will continue to need help from groups like his.
After Texas passed a new abortion law in 2021, local Heartbeat affiliates saw an immediate difference. “We’ve heard women say, ‘Oh good, I didn’t really want an abortion anyway,’” Godsey said. “Many of these women are pressured into abortions, so the law can be a help to them as they consider alternatives to abortion.”
Bryce Asberg, executive director of Helping Hands PRC in Michigan, sees the same “culture-shaping opportunity” for pregnancy resource centers to continue to help women in need. In a post-Roe world, states will begin to grapple with the issue directly, and pro-life advocates in states that adopt an extreme pro-abortion stance will be “on the front lines” in the effort to make abortion “unthinkable,” Asberg said.
“Whatever happens with Roe, the work of pregnancy centers remains the same. That means we come alongside with love and support for women and their families who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy,” said Asberg. “We’re building relationships and ultimately sharing the love of Christ with them. That’s essential work.”
While the work of these centers—providing a vast array of resources while building relationships that offer gospel opportunities—will remain, both Godsey and Asberg warned of the danger that a reversal of Roe could result in a lack of focus among the movement’s supporters. Godsey noted his “grave concerns” while Asberg acknowledged a risk of “disillusionment.” Both argued that post-Roe, the pro-life movement must do more to engage the culture and the church, in order to make abortion not only illegal, but in the words of Asberg, “unthinkable.”
“This is a season in which we need to reenergize the church,” said Godsey. He emphasized that the church must do more than talk about abortion once a year but must engage with volunteer help. As an example, Godsey points out that only 42 percent of affiliated pregnancy resource centers are open on Fridays due to staff shortages—a clear opportunity for pro-life Christians looking to serve their communities and help save unborn lives.
Asberg noted that while much of the post-Roe focus will be on states that take an extreme pro-abortion position, there are significant openings to influence the culture in pro-life states. “People learn from the law,” said Asberg. “While it’s not the ultimate definer of right and wrong, God has put within us a natural inclination to look to the law. It gives us clues and hints that can shape our collective morality.”
If you’re looking for ways to engage with friends or family on pro-life issues, check out ADF’s free new resource, Life: 3 Myths and 3 Facts, below.