It's been exactly a year since Bethany Bomberger gathered in an impromptu huddle outside a hotel ballroom with fellow anti-abortion activists, filled with gratitude and optimism when news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade is just hours before the Pro-Life Women's Conference officially opens.
“There will be life before Roe capsizes and life after,” said Ms. Bomberger this weekend, wept as he recalled what he described as a moment “the impossible became possible.” She and her husband lead an organization that opposes abortion, and which, more recently, has branched out to combat the growing acceptance of transgender identities — what she calls “gender radicalism.”
When this year's conference opened, Ms. Bomberger took to the stage in an unassuming suburban convention center outside St. Louis. Louis. “Who is here with me to let go?” he asked the crowd, leading several hundred women in waves. “We are pro-life, we have life on our side!” She wore a small gold necklace that said “mama”, a gift from her son.
Last summer's ruling in the Dobbs Women's Health Organization v. Jackson abolished the national right to abortion and returned the matter to the states. It also radically upended the abortion landscape in the United States, closing some clinics, encouraging others to open, and setting up new battles over the abortion pill, miscarriage treatment, and contraception. Legal abortions decreased by more than six percent in the first six months after the decision.
For those who believe abortion is the destruction of innocent lives and spent years fighting to end it, June 24 now marks “a major day in our country's history,” said Shawn Carney, president and chief executive officer of 40 Days for Life. . Mr. Organization Carney is the co-sponsor of a Dobbs' birthday rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where crowds gathered Saturday morning to hear Mike Pence and Alveda King, nephews of Martin Luther King Jr.
“The work for life continues, all across America,” said Pence, who has vowed to make abortion a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
Redi Degefa, who lives in Washington and works on the staff in Congress, said she came to the Saturday morning rally to show that young women are represented in the anti-abortion movement. He said he was two years out of college and a Catholic and came bearing a sign reading “Pray the rosary to end abortion.”
“This is a celebration and also a reminder that just as we have to maintain this energy, the energy that we have maintained over the last 50 years — we have to double it now and keep going,” said Ms. Degefa. “Never win until abortion is abolished in all 50 states.”
June quickly became the new focal point of the anti-abortion calendar, a shift from the birthday when Roe was decreed, in January 1973. Mr. Carney compared Roe's birthday to the Dred Scott decree of 1857, which is not celebrated by Americans. , and Dobbs' birthday to Juneteenth, which they did. He was among those suggesting moving the March for Life, the annual anti-abortion event held every January in Washington, to June.
Other activists observed what they called “Dobbs Day” at statehouses this weekend, including in Georgia and Wisconsin. Some are calling for social conservatives to rename June the “Month of Life”, a celebration of the decision that serves as a friction in Pride Month.
In a showroom this weekend in Missouri, tables displayed bumper stickers, prayer wristbands, and stacks of bright “Pro-Life Kids” coloring books. Nuns in the habit of mingling with young women in T-shirts that read “Love Wildly” and “Life Has Purpose”. A selfie station boasted a neon sign reading “Pro-Woman Is Pro-Life.”
Attendees were invited to “dress in 1972 or 2022 best” to the ball on Saturday night, referencing the year before Roe was adjudged and the year the court reversed itself 50 years later.
“I was so happy to know I was dancing to celebrate the overthrow of Roe,” said Danielle Pitzer, director of the sacredness of human life at Focus on the Family, Friday. She has packed a kaleidoscopic “disco dress,” complete with platform shoes and a matching headband.
Although many American women mourn the loss of the national right to abortion, conservative women — and especially young women — have supported the movement against abortion and instilled it with the fresh energy of a new generation. For them, this moment is one to celebrate, and acknowledge the new challenges ahead.
American public opinion has moved toward more support for abortion rights, making the issue a painful political responsibility for Republicans. The party is struggling to reach a consensus on limiting abortion, and so far many GOP presidential candidates have avoided the issue. At the same time, women don't stop having abortions, even in states where it's banned: Instead they turn to the abortion pill or travel to other states.
“We have learned this year that there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Angela Huguenin, director of operations for And Then There Were None, an organization aimed at persuading abortion clinic workers to join the anti-abortion movement. . The effort was met with more hostility from many clinic workers over the past year, he said. Dozens of clinics have closed since Roe's ouster, and many have had to move and move to neighboring states.
For true believers in Missouri, many of whom work or volunteer for anti-abortion organizations, some of the political fallout can be attributed to a communication failure: If the public had better understood the movement's commitment to mothers and babies, it would have looked a different matter. .
Some movement skeptics that Dobbs represents a clear victory. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of the small New Wave Feminist anti-abortion group, was attending a conference organized by the National Right to Life last year when the court issued its decision. The room exploded into almost frantic joy, he said. His own feelings were more mixed.
“It doesn't solve anything or do anything, it just creates chaos,” he said. Some of the state's new laws do not include exceptions for rape or incest and, he said, “horror stories” have emerged where women are denied treatment for pregnancy complications.
“Pro-lifers may have won the battle but they won't win the war” unless they write better laws and advocate for a more comprehensive social safety net, he said. One misstep, he added, “could easily lead to the codification of abortion rights.”
In Missouri, conference host Abby Johnson spoke to women from the stage Friday afternoon, seated on a white couch next to a panel of former abortion clinic employees. Ms. Johnson is the former director of the Planned Parenthood clinic who is now a prominent anti-abortion activist.
He warned the crowd about the rise of drug abortion, and the abortion rights movement's dedication to “never stop killing babies.”
“We just had this big win,” he said. “Let's keep winning.”
Zach Montague contributed to this article.