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March for Life will continue until ‘abortion is unthinkable,’ says official

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — When the Supreme Court ruled June 24 that there is no constitutional right to abortion, the historic decision came a day before what would have been the 98th birthday of Nellie Gray, founder of the March for Life.

An pro-life supporter in Washington marches Jan. 4, 2020, during the 47th annual March for Life. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

The march – which Gray, a Texas-born government lawyer, founded in 1974 to mark the first anniversary of the court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide – is a fixture of Catholic pro-life activism and bus pilgrimages to the nation’s capital.

So the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and Gray’s mission accomplished, has led to speculation as to the future of the national march. Will it continue?

Yes, said Jeanne Mancini, who became March for Life president in 2013, a year after Gray’s death.

But there’s a new emphasis on growing statewide marches, an effort that began a few years ago.

“We will still be having our federal legislative battles,” Mancini said on a June 29 webcast, “Life Beyond Roe,” sponsored by a consortium of pro-life groups.

But “I would say the voices will have more impact at the state level” as state legislatures that have not already enacted abortion bans begin to debate legislation, she said. “So it’s like less is more.”

Next year, Mancini said the plans are to have marches in all 50 state capitals over the next six years.

As for the Dobbs decision, “I can’t think of a better birthday gift for Nellie,” she added. In a June 25 statement, Mancini promised, “We will continue to march until abortion is unthinkable.”

The Dobbs case was a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. With a 6-3 majority, the court upheld the law, but, the high court also voted 5-4 to overturn its 1973 Roe decision and 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling, which affirmed Roe.

The court’s reversal of Roe now puts abortion policy decisions in the hands of the states.

At least half of the states plan to ban or restrict abortions with this decision in place, and 13 states have trigger laws put in place and set to ban abortions right away if the Dobbs ruling reversed Roe.

However, several states, like California, Colorado and New York, have doubled-down on the laws they have in place allowing abortion right up to the moment of birth.

And the fight at the federal level is far from over, especially if President Joe Biden has any say.

At a June 30 news conference in Madrid, after the close of a NATO meeting, Biden called the court’s reversal of Roe “absolutely outrageous” and said the court has “taken away” people’s privacy rights. “We (the U.S.) have been a leader on privacy rights,” he said.

The Constitution does not explicitly guarantee a right to privacy, but the high court in 1973 said in its 7-2 Roe decision that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental “right to privacy,” which protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion.

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