And chaos ensued.
Okay, not everywhere or for every person.
But for many people, the decision in Dobbs to overturn Roe v. Wade threw their family life into turmoil, caused them emotional conflict or hurt, and made work dangerous or more difficult.
For others, the decision did not affect their day-to-day life very much, but the idea of what had happened and what could happen now gave them cause to celebrate (or to mourn).
This event was momentous in the history of the United States. Many people remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when the ruling came down. We asked our contributors and our followers to share their stories with us. Where were they, how did they hear, when did they hear, how did they react?
I’ll start. I was at work, watching the live stream of the SCOTUS blog. For weeks leading up to the revelation of the decision, I had been watching the blog’s live stream and waiting impatiently, sometimes live-tweeting abiut it. I work full-time for a pro-life organization that often gets targeted in the media. Our leadership had already decided that just for the sake of safety, if the decision came back that Roe was overturned in part or whole, we would all pack our equipment and work from home the rest of the day. When the decision came through, the office had the air of a party. People were excited, chattering, and packing up. I got home and celebrated with one of those little bottles of sparkling wine from Kroger and put on a pro-life t-shirt.
So, what were other pro-life people doing when they heard the news? Here are the stories and responses we collected:
- “I was at the beach with my family! We were down by the water when my dad got a text about it. I ran back up to our chairs as fast as I could to pull up the article and read! I was in shock! I couldn’t believe it had actually happened. My daughter’s first birthday was the next day. Best birthday present ever haha!” — @ranck_katherine
- “I was at home [and thought] good! Now we have work to do at the state level.” — @tmccartyreleng
- “Writing an accounting exam at home, my sister burst into the room to let me know but there was no time to celebrate till after my exam.” — @JoyProlife
- “Nothing very interesting. I was at home and checked Twitter to see if the official Dobbs Decision had come out yet. I was so relieved to see that the SC confirmed that there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. People should read the whole decision. Many will be surprised to know the Dobbs case didn’t even seek to eliminate abortion, just prevent it past 15 weeks. The court isn’t supposed to be partisan. It’s supposed to interpret the Constitution. There never was a constitutional right to abortion.” — @cybermom1999
- “I was at work. The first thing I did was send @Newnameel a DM to ask if he had heard.” — @DoomSperg
- “Disbelief. I never expected the status quo to change. I thought government was too entrenched in keeping abortion as a divisive, fundraising issue to allow the pendulum to swing so dramatically.” — @Newnameel
- “I was on the way to the hospital in labor with my son. In the Panera drive-thru with full on contractions my mom & I were texting all excited. It was super neat having my little boy on the day Roe was overturned! 💙” — @abbyjloper
- “Oh my, well I was on vacation in Boston, and let’s say there were plenty of people out and about who were upset and protesting. Being a teenage member of the pro-life movement, I was a little concerned about what would happen, and to what extent some people would go to protest the overturn. I’m the days following, I was met with a lot of scrutiny and many lengthy messages from ‘friends’ who bashed and slandered me just for supporting the right to life. It made me very anxious and nervous, but I still am happy to know I live in a country where we have the ability to help better protect life.” — @noahgrayson621
- “I was at work in downtown Nashville! [It felt] like the prayers of millions of people had been heard and finally answered. I went to Planned Parenthood Nashville where they were already showing permanently closed on their business page and met @scotthordministries for the first time. The work isn’t done by far, but the tide is turning.” — @thekyleperry
- “I was at work — a pregnancy support center! I was overjoyed! It was so cool to be able to share that moment with the other staff and volunteers at our @choosehopewomenscenter ❤️” — @1025jme
- “I was sleeping when I got a call. It was my cousin yelling ‘DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS!?’ It was quite a way to wake up. Honestly, I had just written my final essay in English about why Roe should be overturned and I thought I was a psychic. I was very hopeful and happy that a lot of states would place restrictions on abortion.” — @sam_wacko
- “I was at my home and I was so glad to see that this happened. Not because of the issue as much because the issue should have always been in the hands of the states. We are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and this should never have been decided at the Federal level. Now it is back in the hands of the states and people, on either side of the issue, will need to get involved and fight for what they believe, have conversations with people and hear both sides of the coin and even the middle of the coin. This was a victory for our country and how it is supposed to be run.” — @latulip
- “I was at work. I started crying at my desk. The decision was leaked in May on the same day my husband and I had found out at our first ultrasound that our first baby had no heartbeat and we were having a miscarriage. The leak was that night. I had spent the entire day crying in bed. The leak was the best news on the worst day of my life – it made me feel like God was still present. On 6/24, I had just miscarried maybe a week or 2 before after waiting patiently. I was still carrying the grief of losing my first child. I started crying at my desk thinking of how unfair it is that my baby got to be wanted and desired and loved so dearly, and so many innocent babies, just like my baby, are so easily and nonchalantly destroyed and discarded by their own mothers. Maybe even completely healthy babies. Why did my baby get to be loved and valued and wanted? Why do these other babies have to suffer for being exactly and innocently where they are?… I just feel it’s so unfair how many (millions and millions and millions of babies) were not loved, were not given a chance, and will be forgotten. I wish I had the power to protect them, and stand up for them and stop what happened to them, but I don’t. And now they’re dead. I wish it didn’t have to be so many for so long. I should have been happy, but all I could think of was all those babies who were murdered.” — @mapooler
- “No exciting story for me: I was working remotely, while watching SCOTUS Blog. It’s still hard to believe a year later that this text was in a ruling after 49 years:
— Daniel Gump
- “I was getting ready to leave for a weekend away in Lancaster when my husband told me about the Dobbs ruling. I screamed as I ran down the stairs and scared the heck out of my sister-in-law who was there to watch my kids. She hadn’t been following the case and didn’t know the implications of it. Had some fantastic conversations that weekend with her and some random folks in Lancaster I met in a furniture store who were discussing the case. We went to church while we were away. It was a majority black congregation and the preacher gave a hard-hitting sermon knowing full well the abortion statistics for that demographic, I posted an excerpt from that sermon on Twitter.” — Jackie Rothermel
- “I had been following the SCOTUS blog on every opinion day. For weeks, whenever any opinion was about to be released, I had started recording myself on my phone, just in case that opinion was the Dobbs opinion; then when it would turn out it wasn’t, I would delete the recording. So when the second opinion on June 24 was about to be released, I started recording as usual, not really expecting that it would be Dobbs. But it was, so here on YouTube is that recording showing the moment I got the news: Roe, Casey, and the ash heap (Note: If you watch the video: From 00:30 to 02:06 is just dead time where he was waiting to see what opinion would be released next. So just skip to that time!) — Acyutananda
- “I was sitting at work with the SCOTUS Blog open on one screen waiting for the decision to drop. I’ll admit, I didn’t expect it to happen. But I was glad to be proven wrong. The pro-life movement has always been threefold – raise awareness of the reality of abortion, make abortion illegal, and help women facing unplanned pregnancies. With the reversal of Roe, only one of those items has been checked off. As abortions will still be available in some states, and illegal abortions will still be happening throughout the country, our other two goals become even more important. We must continue to raise awareness of the violent reality of abortion by educating people about embryology and the medical effects that abortion can cause, and we must increase our support and care for women facing unplanned pregnancies. As someone from the state of Mississippi, a state known historically for being a hotspot for injustice, inequality, and violence, I am proud that the Dobbs case originated from there. I am proud that Mississippi can now be known as the state that challenged the most violent, unjust, & inhumane court decision in our nation’s history. I am proud that Mississippi can now be known as the state where ‘life found a way.’” — Nick Bell
- “I had just woken up when Roe was overturned. As soon as I saw it, I was desperately trying to connect with my friends and HDI team to celebrate. However, the internet and phone service was super spotty that day of ALL days. As soon as it finally settled down, I saw they were also trying to get a hold of me. Once my signal was stable, later in the day, we all had a Zoom celebration. Although there’s still so much work to do, just knowing something we’ve fought for, for so long, had come to pass was so surreal. I was ecstatic because I knew how many trigger laws were going into effect almost immediately. I even framed the newspaper from that day with the decision. It serves as a reminder of the work we still have to do and that we are the pro-life generation.” — Skyler Lee
- “I was working from home that day and was tense but hopeful throughout the morning, frequently checking up on Twitter and the news—probably more than doing actual work, haha. When the news came out that Roe was officially overturned, the moment felt almost unreal but so over-the-moon at the same time. How rare it is to witness a major turning point in our nation’s history, and such a turn for the better! The HDI team was frantically trying to get in touch with Skyler to make sure she had the news, and our message chats were full of much rejoicing throughout the day—including the celebratory Zoom call in the evening. It was a great day that went by in a flash, but all the pro-life people I knew including in HDI were quick to assert that while Roe being overturned was a major advancement for the protection of the pre-born, we still have much more work ahead of us.” — Sarah Mouradian-Ho
- “When I found out Roe was overturned, I was sitting in my living room watching my one year old play on the floor, having a silent freak out in amazement and joy. I instantly texted my family and called two friends of mine who were standing outside a local abortion center as it was all happening. We were all so excited and shocked that it had actually been overturned. My first thought was of all the lives that would be saved and yet all the women who needed support now more than ever to empower them as they raise their children.” — Libby Hansen
I found it interesting to note that many of us were hopeful but not confident that the overturning would even take place.
The surprise so many of us experienced was deep-felt. I am sure many of us feel cynical towards one or more branches of our federal government, so to finally see a “win” in the pro-life arena after almost 50 years was shocking.
Celebration, Determination, and Caution
I can see that many pro-life people, while rightfully celebrating, were also still concerned about the continued work of the pregnancy help movement and the pro-life movement.
The overturning of both Roe and Casey is cause for celebration! It is undeniable that abortions have been prevented precisely because of legislation states have been allowed to pass since Roe and Casey were overturned.
The New York Times ran a story, sharing that legal abortions fell by 6% nationwide in the 6 months following the Dobbs ruling. States where abortion remained legal were seeing an uptick in the number of abortions done per month, but overall, so many fewer abortions were happening in other states that the net change for number of abortion was in the negative. “After the Dobbs decision, the average number of legal abortions performed each month across the U.S. fell from over 82,000 to about 77,000.”
If we use this data and data from Guttmacher: “In 2020, 930,160 abortions were provided in clinical settings,” we are talking about preventing about 56,000-60,000 abortions in 12 months’ time.
And just as a reminder, abortion regulations (not even outright bans) do prevent both legal and illegal abortions!
A report from a pro-life analyst Michael J. New contained more good news: the effect of the ruling has likely been even greater than estimated due to several factors he points out.
Abortion providers shut their doors after the decision was made. Some relocated to other states, sometimes just over the border. Interesting how a place providing reproductive healthcare (which these pro-choice providers would say abortion is just one aspect of) would have to completely shut down after a single service is made illegal in their state.
However, yes, the pro-life and pregnancy help movements still have much work to do. Making abortion less available legally is only one part of lowering abortion rates. Empowering women and families to make healthy decisions and form healthy relationships is another aspect. Making healthcare for pregnant women more accessible and affordable is another important aspect. Fostering a culture of respect for all members of the human family is yet another.
We not only want to make abortion illegal and inaccessible (because it kills humans, and killing humans should not be legal); we also want abortion to be unthinkable and unwanted by society at large and women specifically.