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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pro-life leaders are expressing optimism over a new Supreme Court justice. They caution, however, that there is still a lot of work to do to educate the public.
With Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement on Wednesday that he would be stepping down, Church Militant reached out to a number of pro-lifers to see what this means for the future of abortion in America.
Eric Schiedler, executive director of Pro-Life Action League, warned, "This is not a victory, it's an opportunity for a victory." The group was elated when they heard about the vacancy, saying, "Anthony Kennedy has stood in the way of pro-life legislation and overturning Roe v. Wade." He blasted Kennedy's opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and said it showed that justices could "make up your own version of reality."
Texas Right to Life Legislative Director John Seago said, "Justice Kennedy was not only considered the swing vote on the court for pro-life cases, but he also authored the historic and deeply flawed 1992 opinion Planned Parenthood v. Casey."
Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said, "It would be good if the next justice could see the errors in the 1965 Griswold birth control decision of the Court and the 1973 Roe and Doe decisions and rule in favor of fact instead of political agendas."
Pro-life advocate Lynn Mills told Church Militant, "A young pro-life justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia will forever keep this country honest to the true meaning of the Constitution," adding that the Court needs to "interpret, not create."
"The most immediate judicial step for the movement is to defend the Dismemberment Abortion Ban (Whole Woman's Health v. Paxton) that is currently being considered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit," Seago told Church Militant. "How the Supreme Court and the new justice handles this case will be the greatest indicator of the future strategy for us."
He said the core of this case is the question of whether states have a legitimate interest to protect pre-born life.
"This is an opportunity for the court to signal how far states can go to stop the inhumane and unjust practice of elective abortion," he continued. "Once we see how the new court handles the Dismemberment case and other cases already working up to the Supreme Court, we can pass stronger legislation than ever with the confidence we have a Supreme Court that will re-establish constitutional rights for pre-born children."
In a statement to Church Militant, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) said, "AAPLOG is very hopeful that the Trump Administration and Congress will choose a replacement justice who will adhere to the Constitution and not create laws like Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton out of the thin air of their own wishful thinking."
Continuing, the statement read:
It is very important to AAPLOG that the fundamental right of conscience, a right unique to the founding of the United States, and a right guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution, be recognized, as without this right of conscience, the practice of Hippocratic medicine will be extinguished. It is the First Amendment which makes a place for doctors to practice according to the Hippocratic Oath. And it is the Hippocratic Oath which protects patients and ensures that they can find a doctor who won't kill them for a price. AAPLOG is hopeful that this replacement will signal a return to sanity in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Seago said this should "absolutely" embolden the pro-life movement: "We must continue to pass aggressive and prudent legislation that saves lives, redirects the cultural conversation and undermines Roe v. Wade."
All of the pro-life leaders agreed that educating the public on the importance of the issue of abortion must continue.
"There is still a poignant cultural conversation going on about elective abortion, and we must continue to embrace that conversation and communicate why we believe elective abortion is an act of injustice and violence that has no place in our society that seeks to value all human beings equally," Seago noted.
Scheidler explained that Pro-Life Action League will continue to hold events like its recent Pro-Life Bridges Day, which reached over 1 million commuters in 50 cities across America. He said this was "basic public education that abortion is not something to forget about."
Brown agrees that education is the key. Although recent polls claim the majority of Americans are pro-life, "The majority of Americans are confused, they are not actually pro-life," she observed. And while most Americans support exceptions and limits on surgical abortion, they also support abortion in some instances, like rape and fetal abnormalities.
"They do not support the truth about contraceptives that cause abortions or reproductive technologies that kill pre-born children," she said.
"We need to be ready to educate and fight with our wits and probably our pocketbooks and on our knees before the Lord," Mills insisted. There are not enough people going to abortion mills for "that last-ditch effort to save moms and children in the womb," she noted.
"The pro-life movement exists to teach Americans — including Supreme Court justices — the truth that a human being exists from his biological beginning," Brown said.
Scheidler explained that Senate Democrats will be gearing up to prevent a pro-life justice from being appointed. It will take a tremendous amount of public pressure on both Republican and Democratic senators, and he urged people to start contacting their senators now. He said pro-lifers should be helping to educate friends and neighbors on the importance of voting for solid politicians.
"It means abortion remains an important issue in the upcoming elections," Scheidler said.
"Pro-lifers must not assume the battle is won," Seago noted, adding, "We still must elect uncompromising pro-life legislators from the top to the bottom of the ballot so that we do not squander this historic opportunity."