Anti-Choice Groups Want to ‘Make Abortion Unthinkable’

Anti-choice activists are once again being clear about their goals.

Drawing of Comstock behind windows and the RNC Elephant to the side
Conservatives want to revive the Comstock Act to ban abortion nationwide. Library of Congress/Cage Rivera/Rewire News Group illustration

This piece first appeared in our weekly newsletter, The Fallout.

This week would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but instead of commemorating the flawed but historic Supreme Court decision recognizing the federal right to abortion, this country continues to find itself spiraling downward in an ongoing public health crisis thanks to Roe’s reversal. Maternal and infant mortality rates are on the rise, while hospitals in states that ban abortion grapple with whether their doctors must ever perform life-saving abortion care—a question Justice Samuel Alito will help answer later this summer.

The Biden administration offered up a tepid response to recognize the anniversary, while the anti-choice community marked the occasion with its usual descent on Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life to rally around maternity ranches and so-called crisis pregnancy centers.

At this point, I don’t know which response is worse.

It’s been nearly two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe and it really feels like much of the country has just accepted chaos and cruelty as the status quo when it comes to accessing reproductive health care. Conservative think tanks are pushing Republican presidential candidates to commit to enforcing the Comstock Act. Yet not a single Democratic member of Congress, nor anyone in the Biden administration, has mentioned trying to repeal it as an obvious counter-move to those threats, choosing instead to rally around the deficient and completely anemic plan to “Restore Roe.”

What part of this human rights crisis are people missing here, exactly? Will we ever see a response that meets the seriousness of the moment?

Time and time again, the anti-choice community has been very clear about its plans and intentions, and this March for Life was no different. “Make abortion unthinkable” is their latest catchphrase, which makes about as much sense as “make Pap smears unthinkable” until you remember that at the core of their movement is a campaign to erase abortion from health care generally, and to make criminals out of patients and providers.

And they’ll succeed if we don’t start taking them at their word.