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Roe v. Wade, John Steinbeck, and California’s abortion fantasy

In light of the recent announcement that Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the conclusion of the current Supreme Court session, talk of Roe v. Wade will hit overdrive. The justice’s retirement should not alter the “balance” of the court, as he will surely be replaced with a person who mirrors his judicial temperament.

With the majority still on the court who bend more toward an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, Roe is still well within the possibility of being overturned in the not-too-distant future. 

If and when that happens, abortion in America will be alive and well. Many people who make up the core of the pro-life movement have only known a world with Roe. Us older types also tend to forget that before that incongruous decision in the 1970s, abortion was legal and protected in several states, including California.

A sign that Roe’s days may be numbered is found in the scrambling that state and local pro-abortion politicians are doing to keep the abortion industry in good stead. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put $20 billion into the new state budget for scholarships and student loan forgiveness if qualifying students pledge to be part of the abortion industry. 

“As always,” Newsom proclaimed as the budget was rolled out to the press, “our budget is built on our core California values of inclusion, economic growth, and a brighter future for all.” The future of unborn children was not found in the budget.

On the local level, Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously to develop a plan within 30 days that will map out a response in the event Roe is overturned. The supervisors will work closely with Planned Parenthood to develop ways that taxpayers’ money can be spent to relax residency requirements, and loosen other legal constraints to expand abortions. This convergence of political and financial power will enshrine abortion in our state, regardless of what five justices might decide.

Roe should be overturned, if only to reclaim some manner of judicial and Constitutional coherence. But the Church and the rest of the pro-life movement would be well-advised to begin planning for the work that lies ahead. 

Pro-lifers march during OneLife LA in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 22. (Victor Alemán)

There will always be a need for a pro-life culture and pro-life organizations, because there will always be women who find themselves unmarried, maybe even unloved, and expecting a child. Crisis pregnancy centers will be just as important in a Roe-less world as they are now. Women will always need a place to turn to when they believe they are out of choices. 

The pro-life care system must always be vigilant, insuring that the medical and spiritual needs of moms and their children will be met in love, support, and kindness.

Sadly, the work of Planned Parenthood will continue in the post-Roe world as well. They will continue to receive huge sums of money from state and federal sources, to be celebrated and honored by politicians, celebrities, and societal elites, and to operate their “health clinics” like so many abortion industry franchises.

In December of last year, a report from California state policymakers was delivered to the governor. The report, titled “Future of Abortion Council,” was under the guidance of Toni G. Atkins, Senate president pro tempore of the California legislature. It outlines the strategy and policy moves the state will employ in the event of an overturn of Roe

The document reads like the protocols from the Wannsee Conference, the 1942 meeting where high-ranking German officials formalized the “final solution” in cold and exacting detail. Notwithstanding the necessary caution needed when comparing anything to the Nazi atrocities, a document that outlines an officially sanctioned government plan aimed at the destruction of human life is bound to have some resemblance. 

Californian John Steinbeck was writing from a different era and speaking to a different cause when he penned his magnum opus, “The Grapes of Wrath.” But maybe the speech his Tom Joad gives at the end of the book can be rewritten for the pro-life movement if Roe v. Wade were to end up in the dust bin of history. 

Maybe the mother of a pro-life worker would ask the same question Ma Joad asked: “Then what, Tom?” 

And maybe a modern-day pro-life Tom Joad would have to answer: “Then it don’t matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever there’s a fight so babies and moms are safe, I’ll be there. Wherever a Planned Parenthood clinic is telling lies about what an abortion actually is, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys pray — I’ll be in the way babies and moms laugh when they know they are loved and cherished — why, I’ll be there. See?”

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