News that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to strike down Roe v. Wade should not be viewed as the end of the pro-life movement. Instead its work — of supporting women and children — must now accelerate.

For the first time in almost 50 years, the Supreme Court has taken a strong position that supports unborn life. The leaked draft of the majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization indicates that the majority of justices are planning to stand squarely in favor of life.

Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the draft opinion, wrote plainly: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

More than 62 million unborn children have been aborted in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. A case that was to guarantee that abortion was “safe and rare” has grievously proven otherwise in the subsequent decades. Children were denied the right to exist. Women were also harmed.

Millions of women who were supposed to be happy and “empowered” by abortion procedures more often came away carrying psychological, physical and emotional trauma.  

Even while some liberal states have preemptively enacted laws permitting abortion up until birth, we are witnessing more broadly the dawning of a significant shift toward greater comprehension and value of life.

With greater scientific advancements such as increasingly detailed ultrasound technology that shows fetal development at early stages, people are better understanding that every unborn baby is unique and recognizably human.

We now know that a human fetus can, in fact, feel pain and will attempt to avoid it if possible.

As more Americans see the undeniable humanity of these tiny human beings, they can no longer remain silent. The science now informs an emboldened culture that recoils from the violence of abortion and rejects industries that profit from dismembering and selling fetal body parts.

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But, as Roman Catholic Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston noted earlier this year, “Dismantling unjust laws is only the beginning. We still have the arduous task of creating a pro-life culture, of changing heart and minds.”

He added: “Our task is not to judge others, but to try to bring healing … to build a society that takes care of everybody, where every person counts, where every life is important.”

The leaked draft opinion notes that 30 states had laws against abortion when Roe v. Wade was first decided. The majority of states did not support this decision in 1973. And in the Dobbs case currently before the court, 26 states joined in asking that Roe be overturned. The draft notes that “far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and (Planned Parenthood v.) Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” 

Presuming the opinion and votes remain unchanged, the Supreme Court will effectively end the charade that there is some nebulous right to abort one’s baby within the Constitution.  The justices say clearly that no such right exists. Then they hand the issue back to the people — where it has always belonged.

Of course, the issue remains extremely divisive. But that too can change.     

We have before us an opportunity to grow a culture that embraces life and demonstrates what that really means. We are at a magnificent juncture where we can show what it means to heal from old wounds and build something better. We also have the opportunity to work across the aisle and demonstrate a greater respect for life and women as a collective community. We should work to enshrine this “life culture” as a national value for generations beyond just Dobbs.

Each state and its communities must rise up in supporting women in crisis and their unborn family members. Those who have been toiling for years to protect the unborn and support their mothers should also toil with the same intensity to ensure that women and men from all backgrounds have the resources to care for their precious new life.

Assuming the opinion stands, what will be the impact in our own state of Utah? In 2020, the Utah Legislature enacted SB174 — Sen. Dan McCay’s bill that would ban abortion with few exceptions (rape, incest, life of mother, severe fetal abnormality) if Roe were overturned. It appears that may become Utah’s law soon.

More than 3,000 babies are aborted in elective abortions each year in Utah. Granted, some women would still choose to travel to other states to obtain abortions. But it’s likely that many thousands of lives will be spared.

As a state, we have the opportunity to demonstrate how to celebrate women as they embark on their journey of sacred stewardship over a new life. We can surely do more to empower women to experience motherhood as a contributing asset to society, not just a liability. This shift in perspective is ours to create — with the promise of many new citizens and families with fresh hope for their future.  

Currently, organizations such as Pro-Life Utah and Pregnancy Resource Centers have actively supported vulnerable pregnant women with financial assistance, baby supplies, mentoring, connection to resources and friendship. This is a work for all of us.

Women carrying heavy burdens need circles of trust and support that span the breadth of their motherhood. They need active and robust pregnancy resource centers that are well funded and supported. They need flexible and specialized accommodations in the school and workplace. But most of all, women need communities that embrace their children and families in a way that feels empowering.

This is what our call to maternal feminism and a pro-life culture is all about. It’s time to celebrate this decision, and pray it holds, while concentrating our efforts on providing a robust safety net for women in terms of medical services, mental heath support, financial support and more. We must continue to seek to lessen trauma and reduce violence. Our Legislature has stood firm to boldly protect the rights of our preborn children, and we are grateful for lawmakers’ courage in their continued defense of our most vulnerable citizens.

As we await the final outcome of this case, we are hopeful the Supreme Court justices who have voted initially to overturn Roe v. Wade will remain courageous in honoring this life ethic. No matter what happens over the next few months, we have confidence that a new era of life culture awaits.

Carolina Allen is the director of Big Ocean Women. Merrilee Boyack is chair of Abortion-Free Utah Coalition. Mary Taylor is president of of Pro-Life Utah.