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Post-Roe reality: Anti-abortion activists push for 'whole life' policy

Anti-abortion measures have seen their fair share of losses since Roe v. Wade was overturned, with abortion-rights policies winning in many states.
Post-Roe reality: Anti-abortion activists push for 'whole life' policy
Posted at 3:47 PM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-07 11:38:56-05

With abortion a top issue for voters heading into 2024, Republicans have been putting a growing amount of attention on life after pregnancy.

"We should not only be pro-life before the child is born, we should be pro-life after the child is born," said former presidential candidate Tim Scott during the last GOP debate.

"Pro-life is not just in the womb — it's for the whole life," echoed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 

Anti-abortion measures have seen their fair share of losses since Roe. v. Wade was overturned, with abortion-rights policies winning in Vermont, Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, California and Montana. 

In places like Virginia, local elections turned into a blue wave, with Democrats taking both the House and Senate, thwarting future abortion restrictions from GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

While the losses have put some anti-abortion activists and politicians on defense, some see it as a fresh start.

"I think this is an opportunity for the pro-life movement, people who care about life, at birth but also beyond, to actually prove it," said Ben Watson.

Watson, the VP of Human Coalitionand an outspoken abortion critic, told Scripps News that his group is working to redefine "pro-life. "

"We will connect a woman who is abortion-determined to social services. We will try to help her with her finances. We will try to help her with adequate housing immediately," he said of the Human Coalition.

In his book, "The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race and a Pro-life Commitment to Justice," the father of seven and former NFL player argues that subsidized housing, transportation and health care — historically liberal talking points — are all important parts of being part of the anti-abortion movement.

"There is this relationship between so many of these other issues that might seem to be simply political or gender-driven and have nothing to do with life that I would suggest are actually life issues," he explained.

The notion of supporting government-backed social services while taking anti-abortion stances isn't new for some groups, like Democrats for Life of America.

SEE MORE: Texas woman sues to have an abortion after fatal diagnosis of fetus

"With Chris Christie — and we were really happy that he came out — he basically was using our talking points and saying we need to be pro-life for the whole life," DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day told Scripps.

There's also the And Campaign, whose Whole Life Project seeks to educate voters on abortion's history in the Black community and the present-day realities, like the lack of affordable health care and maternal mortality.

"In states like Alabama, Mississippi and so on where they have these abortion laws, but they don't take the same care to make sure that women are living through these procedures," said AND Campaign president Justin Giboney.

Giboney says his group has long called for things like affordable child care.

"Inflation there has been really tough on a lot of families, and that's something people take in consideration whether you agree with their decision or not," he explained.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 states and D.C. have implemented or are planning to implement a 12-month extension to postpartum Medicaid coverage for low income patients, including most GOP led states.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves calls the decision part of the "new pro-life agenda," along with a website of resources for new parents.

"Having a child is expensive and so you can go to the site and say I need a car seat, I need a crib or what kind of support is available and you can just type in the keywords and it will point you to all the resources available," said Day.

At the federal level, Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ashley Hinson introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Providing for Life Act, which calls for paid parental leave and additional funding for WIC, a government-backed food assistance program.

According to the National Conference of State legislatures, only 11 states and D.C. have mandatory paid family leave, a component some whole life advocates say is necessary for new families.

The majority of those states are historically Democrat.

Many GOP-led states have given millions in taxpayer dollars to crisis pregnancy centers, who provide diapers and formula but are often opposed by Democrats due to their anti-abortion stances and practices. 

Day has made it her job to convince fellow Democrats that the funding is a good thing.

As the realities of a post-Roe world unfold, she and fellow "whole life" advocates say they will continue the push for dialogue.

"This cannot be. This should not be addressed from simply a conservative political or conservative ideological point of view. It has to be addressed more broadly," said Giboney.

"There are many groups that lean left or right, that may be atheist, that may be feminist, but they stand for life and they're not comfortable in any of the extremes. So I think that we need to be willing and open to engaging with them as well," said Watson.


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