“We will remain pro-life regardless of what the other side wants to call themselves,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.
Nobody is talking about dropping “life” — it’s such a strong message, said Charmaine Yoest, president and chief executive of Americans United for Life. Moreover, she said, if people try to switch to talking about abortion rights and “women’s health,” “I say, ‘Bring it on.’ I would welcome a discussion about women’s health.”
In the 40 years since the Jan. 22, 1973, ruling in Roe v. Wade, many milestones have been reached.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the number of U.S. abortion clinics and legal abortions soared.
Abortion became a de facto “litmus test” for political candidates.
“A woman’s right to choose” became a household phrase, and abortion rights supporters fiercely defended their views in courts and political arenas.
For years, a majority of Americans declared themselves pro-choice, according to the Gallup Poll.
Over time, pro-life forces found their voices, too.
The National Right to Life Committee and the annual March for Life were created after the Supreme Court ruling.
Pro-life members of Congress acted quickly to block taxpayer funding of abortion by passing the Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican.
The popular argument that abortion just removed a “blob of tissue” was undermined by technologies showing fetal development and “a beating heart” by the 22nd day of pregnancy. Abortionist turned pro-lifer Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s 1984 film, “Silent Scream,” introduced the concepts of fetal awareness and distress during abortion.
Even “Jane Roe” switched sides: In 1995, Norma McCorvey announced that she had become a pro-life Christian.
The battles grew uglier in the 1990s as several abortion providers were fatally shot near their clinics or homes. As recently as 2009, abortion practitioner Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in his Kansas church.
Lawmakers reacted by creating “buffer zones” around clinics. Law enforcement officials brought justice to the killers, including clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, who evaded police for five years.