Pro-life leader: State-by-state approach to abortion will lead movement to ‘ash heap of history’ — By: Catholic News Agency

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser told EWTN News the pro-life movement is grounded in the dignity of the individual “and has never stopped at a state line.” / Credit: Screenshot/EWTN News in Depth

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 13, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

As pro-life politicians try to figure out the most effective way to defend unborn life, a top leader in the movement argues that leaving abortion policies up to the states — rather than pursuing national pro-life policies — will push the movement into the “ash heap of history.” 

“Where is the appropriate battleground for this most important human rights battle of our time?” Marjorie Dannenfelser, a Catholic and CEO of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, rhetorically asked during an interview with “EWTN News In-Depth.”

“Only in the states, or is it a matter for our nation?” Dannenfelser continued. “If this movement cedes the territory to the states only and says that your geography is predictive of whether you live or die in our country, then this movement is headed for the ash heap of history, in my opinion.”

Dannenfelser’s comments come just days after presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee and former president Donald Trump announced that states should determine abortion policies. He said abortion policy is “all about the will of the people” and that “now it’s up to the states to do the right thing.”

“Many states will be different,” Trump said April 8 upon announcing his position on the issue. “Many will have a different number of weeks, or some will have more conservative [policies] than others, and that’s what they will be.”

On Wednesday, during a visit to Atlanta, Trump said he would not sign a national abortion ban if Congress sent one to his desk when asked the question by a reporter. 

Trump’s policy approach to abortion puts the former president at odds with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and other pro-life activists, who have called on lawmakers to pass a federal law that prohibits abortion at the 15th week of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother.

During the interview, Dannenfelser said one can debate whether such a 15-week bill is strong enough, but that the federal government needs to be starting somewhere — and cannot simply defer the issue to states. 

“The most important question on the table is whether the federal government has anything to say,” Dannenfelser added. “Is there anything rooted in our Constitution that points to the value and dignity of every human life, or does it not?”

Despite her disagreements with Trump on how to approach abortion policy, Dannenfelser said she still supports his candidacy to unseat incumbent President Joe Biden. 

“[The Biden] administration, if they have a Senate and a House, would wipe out every single pro-life protection,” Dannenfelser said. “They will eliminate the filibuster. They will do that. So the contrast means, yes, of course, we have to elect [Trump].”

Biden has urged Congress to pass legislation that would codify into law the abortion standards that had been in place under the now-defunct Roe v. Wade decision. Such a law would prohibit states from passing most pro-life policies in addition to overturning the ones currently in place. In his budget proposal, Biden has also requested that Congress eliminate the current ban on taxpayer funding for abortion.

Although Trump has sparred with some pro-life figures over the past year, the former president has taken credit for appointing three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, which allowed states to adopt pro-life laws.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, more than 20 states have passed pro-life laws that put further restrictions on abortion. However, when abortion policies have been put up to a vote via statewide referenda, every pro-life initiative has failed and every pro-abortion initiative has passed — including in Republican-leaning states. This string of electoral defeats has led some pro-life lawmakers to reconsider their approaches to abortion policy.

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