National News

One Year After Dobbs Decision, Pro-Life Work Has Just Begun, Say DC Rally Speakers

Pro-life activists gather on steps of the Lincoln Memorial June 24, to hear speeches during the “National Celebrate Life Day” rally marking the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned its Roe v. Wade ruling and held that the right to an abortion is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. (Photos by Carol Zimmermann/ The Tablet)

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of pro-life activists gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, June 24, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that said the right to an abortion is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

Speakers, including former Vice President Mike Pence and several leaders in the pro-life movement, praised the court’s decision of June 24, 2022, and stressed the progress made on the pro-life front since then. 

The crowd — primarily adults, not the huge school groups or families of the traditional March for Life Rally in January — responded with applause and cheers during the speeches holding aloft placards with messages about choosing life and ending all abortions. 

And though the speakers thanked those who have been working to promote the pro-life cause and said they were thrilled with the court’s decision a year ago, they also repeatedly emphasized that the Dobbs decision was not the end, but just the beginning for the pro-life work ahead.

“One year ago today, because of your work, and because of your prayers, the Supreme Court of the United States sent Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs and gave America a new beginning for life,” said Pence, a 2024 Republican candidate for presidency.

“I came today to say thank you for all you did to bring about that historic day one year ago today,” he said, before emphasizing that this is not the end of pro-life advocacy. “We gather here knowing that we have not come to the end of this cause. We’ve come to the end of the beginning.”

He urged the crowd to resolve to work and pray “as never before” to advance pro-life legislation on the state level, stressing that the “cause of life is the calling of our time.”

Those in the crowd who spoke to The Tablet echoed the sentiment expressed by Pence and other speakers that there was much work still to be done, which is why many came to the event, sponsored by Students for Life, at the site of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Susan Migliore from St. Philips Church in Falls Church, Virginia, said she had been outside the Supreme Court the day Dobbs was argued but hadn’t been there when the decision came down, so she came to the rally to celebrate the court’s action.

As she sees it, the pro-life movement has moved to a new phase and the challenge now is to have respectful civil dialogue with those who disagree. “A lot still has to happen,” she said, to change people’s minds.

The late morning rally on a hot, humid day drew several onlookers from tourists who were passing by on Segways, scooters, bikes, or walking to and from the Lincoln Memorial, but only a few people on the perimeter of the crowd yelled out in disagreement with some of the speakers’ remarks. 

Kris Folks, from Bloomington, Indiana, attended the rally with her husband Titus, a national activist coordinator with Students for Life, and their two children, a 2-month-old and 2-year-old. She said she and her husband brought their older child with them to the Supreme Court when the Dobbs decision was announced and had a photo of her on the steps of the court holding the Washington Post issue of that day with the headline “Roe v. Wade Struck Down.” 

Folks said that in the 12 months since the court’s ruling she has been disappointed with the “amount of progress,” particularly in her state of Indiana, and is hoping that a presidential election next year will include a pro-life candidate to further help the cause. 

Although the rally coincided with the anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Dominican Brother Basil Burroughs, who was in the crowd with two other brothers, said the date was also significant because it is the day the church celebrates the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, who is described in the Bible as leaping in his mother’s womb when she met Mary. 

“It is a great day to celebrate life,” he said.