Anti-Abortion Activists Want Abortion To Be 'Illegal And Unthinkable' With the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, anti-abortion activists hope for a world where ending an unwanted pregnancy is not an option.

A World Without Legal Abortion: How Activists Envision A 'Post-Roe' Nation

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Now that Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, anti-abortion rights activists believe they are closer than ever to achieving a long-term goal - overturning the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. Doing so could pave the way for state laws that would ban the procedure. NPR's Sarah McCammon has been speaking to activists.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: To Carrie Murray Nellis, Amy Coney Barrett is an inspiration, and her confirmation could open the door to a long-awaited moment.

CARRIE MURRAY NELLIS: I hope and pray that we will be in a world of post-Roe v. Wade.

MCCAMMON: Murray Nellis is an attorney and the founder of Abiding Love Adoptions based in Georgia. A majority of Americans favor some restrictions on abortion but support Roe v. Wade, according to national polls. But activists dedicated to the goal of ending abortion in the U.S. have been organizing for decades at every level of government. Murray Nellis says organizations like hers need to be ready to help more women facing unplanned pregnancies.

NELLIS: We, as the pro-life community, have got to get ready and get our ducks in a row because this could likely be happening, and I don't think we're ready.

MCCAMMON: Abortion opponents often say their goal is to make abortion both illegal and unthinkable. Heather Lawless is co-founder of the Reliance center in Idaho, which counsels women against abortion.

HEATHER LAWLESS: There's always a reason why a woman is choosing abortion. And I believe that if we work together, we can provide them with the resources and the tools that they need to not make that choice.

MCCAMMON: Lawless says that can mean helping a woman find housing or get treatment for an addiction. But ultimately, she says, abortion should not be a choice.

LAWLESS: I don't think abortion should be legal, period, because abortion at any stage is willfully taking a human life. And I don't think that should be legal at all.

MCCAMMON: In the post-Roe world, Lawless envisions doctors could be prosecuted for providing abortions, though she would not support penalties for pregnant patients. That's the position of most of the movement's major national groups, but it's not a universal one. Catherine Davis is the founder of The Restoration Project, an anti-abortion group based in Georgia. While Davis says the focus of prosecution should be on doctors, she would not rule out one day punishing women who induce their own abortions.

CATHERINE DAVIS: If she decides to self-abort herself, then she is subjected to the same penalty as the doctor.

MCCAMMON: Davis says she believes abortion should be treated exactly like murder.

DAVIS: If a doctor makes the decision in the jurisdiction that he or she knows the penalty for taking the life of another human being is the death penalty and they decide to do it anyway, then they've subjected themselves to the death penalty.

MCCAMMON: Leslie Reagan is a history professor at the University of Illinois and author of the book "When Abortion Was A Crime." If Roe falls, she says activists are likely to insist on enforcing state abortion bans.

LESLIE REAGAN: We have a movement, a religiously based movement, that's, you know, led by the churches and can organize out of the church that wants these laws changed and will want these laws enforced.

MCCAMMON: It's impossible to know how any justice might rule in a given case. But in a written exchange with Senate Judiciary Committee members, Barrett was asked if states could make seeking an abortion a felony or even a capital crime punishable by death. On those matters, Barrett said, it would be inappropriate for her to offer an opinion. Sarah McCammon, NPR News.


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