Roe is on the rocks. If the draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson obtained by Politico holds, the landmark ruling declaring there to be a constitutional right to elective abortion will be, as former Vice President Mike Pence once put it, thrown in “the ash heap of history.” Ignoring the reality that there is no significant gender split reflected in opinion polling of the issue, that the nation’s leading pro-life advocacy groups are all led by women, and that Justice Amy Coney Barrett is documented as supporting the draft ruling, some pro-choice messengers have moved with haste to frame the court’s impending decision as misogynistic and discriminatory. With the 2022 midterms mere months away, our movement cannot afford to let this abortion-as-women’s-rights distortion stick.
Here’s a primer on how to effectively counter the “sexism” smear.
Polling: Abortion is a divisive, contentious issue. But pro-life and pro-choice are not necessarily shorthand for men and women, respectively. Vox published an article reaching this conclusion in 2019, and The Economist was out earlier this week with a warning for pro-choice Democrats—don’t count on women to revolt against pro-life Republicans this November. When confronted with any suggestion that conflict over abortion amounts to a form of gendered civil war, point to polling that undercuts that narrative.
Pro-Life Women: From an activist perspective it’s not men on the frontlines of the push to end on-demand abortion. It’s women like Live Action founder Lila Rose; March for Life President Jeanne Mancini; and Secular Pro Life directors Kelsey Hazzard, Monica Snyder, and Terissa Bukovinac. Be sure to give these and other leaders the credit they deserve when confronted with a misogyny claim that ignores their efforts and existences.
Ruling Directly Supported by Women: Most conspicuously missing from Planned Parenthood talking points in the wake of the draft’s leak is the direct support for the preliminary ruling from women. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, one of three women currently on the Court, has joined her Republican-appointed colleagues in reaching the conclusion that Roe must go. If that conclusion is reflected in the Court’s final ruling later this term, it will represent a historic victory for Mississippi’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch, who argued for this very outcome. AG Fitch also received amicus brief support from several women and women-led organizations during the early stages of the case. Remind Big Abortion of this demographic trivia every chance you get.
We are no strangers to being cast as sexist, backwards, and anti-women’s rights. But now, more than ever, we must counter that narrative and force Planned Parenthood and its allies to engage on the actual issue at hand: Whether life, unborn though it may be, is worth protecting.