A sign carried during the Jan. 29, 2022, Walk for Life in Lincoln expressed the hopes of the pro-life movement that Roe v. Wade would be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF

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Pro-life groups welcome historic court victory but know their job’s not done

Generations of pro-life Americans waited for June 24, the day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court case which effectively made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – a draft of which had been leaked weeks earlier – returns to individual states the authority to make laws regarding abortion. It was a long, hard-fought victory for the pro-life movement, a culmination of decades of labor and prayer.

Yet three Nebraska-based pro-life organizations acknowledge that their work is far from done.

Now more than ever, they seek to support pregnant mothers, enact just laws, encourage abstinence, educate people about the dangers of promiscuous sex and promote a culture that values faith, family and the inherent dignity of every human life, leaders of the organizations said.

Leaders of the groups responded by email about the ruling and how they will proceed in a post-Roe era.

REACTION

Nebraska Right to Life – a nonpartisan, interdenominational organization – said it applauded the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The victory is the result of years of pro-life work in the areas of legislation, education and politics, said Sandy Danek, executive director.

“For many, Roe v. Wade recognized a right to abortion-on-demand that was never a part of our Constitution,” Danek said. “This historic document was created to protect and defend women and their children, not put them in a place where their desperation causes them to end the life” of a child. “The pro-life movement wants to see a mother succeed and her child welcomed in life and protected by law.”

“The Supreme Court justly overturned Roe because abortion is a direct assault on our Constitutional right to life,” said Pat Castle, founder of LIFE Runners, a pro-life organization that has nearly 20,000 teammates (runners and nonrunners) in 41 countries.

“Roe was upholding an unjust peace,” Castle said. “St. Mother Teresa referred to abortion as the greatest threat to world peace. There has been more loss of life, more loss of peace, in the world from abortion than any other cause of death.”

David Zebolsky of Nebraskans Embracing Life said he is thankful for a just ruling.

“Fifty years of prayer and sacrifice” led to the ruling, Zebolsky said. “It should inspire us to continue working for pro-life legislation both locally and nationally, as we continue to work for the protection of life from conception.”

Nebraskans Embracing Life held a rally at 5 p.m. June 24 on the west side of the Roman Hruska Federal Courthouse at 18th and Douglas streets in Omaha. Pro-life leaders, clergy members and politicians were invited to speak.

The organization  – which strives to enlighten and empower people and communities to embrace life through educational, political and spiritual means – had planned the rally days in advance, not knowing when the Dobbs decision would be released or what it would officially say, to “rally and praise God for life!”

The Omaha rally was one of many across the country planned in coordination with the Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based organization supporting pro-life efforts.

Another rally was planned for Lincoln, at the State Capitol at 14th and K streets.

GOING FORWARD

“With the overturn of Roe, let us be encouraged that our prayers and works have mattered,” said Castle of LIFE Runners. “Now let us double down in our work to impact hearts and minds for saving lives.”

“Our focus remains the same, to prevent abortion by reaching students and abortion-vulnerable mothers with the “REMEMBER The Unborn” message,” he said. “We will continue our life-affirming messaging in pro-life and pro-abortion states,” Castle said. 

“Mothers from pro-life states can still travel to pro-abortion states. The longer the travel time the better, allowing more time for abortion-determined mothers to encounter a life-encouraging person or message.

“In a post-Roe era, we will continue to shine light wherever there is abortion darkness,” he said. “There is no acceptable amount of abortion. Every life is a gift from God and has an infinite value.”

“At this time let us redouble our efforts to support pregnant mothers,” Nebraskans Embracing Life had said in anticipation of the ruling.

“Across Nebraska, there are over 50 primary pregnancy resource centers which offer extensive pregnancy counseling, information, material support, testing and referrals for a wide range of services, to meet every need such as shelter and medical care. Thousands of trained and experienced counselors, social workers, medical professionals, and church leaders are prepared to offer immediate support for motherhood, family life, or adoption.”

Nebraskans Embracing Life called for pro-lifers to also continue pushing for chastity and abstinence, safeguarding the institutions of marriage and family and discouraging artificial contraception, which can result in an abortion.

“We must charitably witness these great truths about the sanctity of life to our neighbors, friends, coworkers, businesses, and people in the public square,” Nebraskans Embracing Life had written on its website. “We must help our youth, our children, and the children of this culture to turn from death, towards life!”

ABORTION WILL CONTINUE

Nebraska Right to Life has no plans to rest either.

“We will continue to work toward electing pro-life representatives in our Unicameral and Congress to continue to pass pro-life protections,” Danek said. “Nebraska Right to Life has worked since its inception in 1973 to accomplish this by surveying and endorsing pro-life candidates, making these results available throughout the state. Our work will be ever more significant as those forces who seek to further abortion will continue their efforts on a different scale.”

“Unfortunately, abortion has and will continue to plague our society,” Danek said. “We will be challenged to increase our educational efforts, working to change the hearts and minds of our culture that has only known abortion-on-demand for 50 years. 

“The pro-life movement is comprised of many facets, including eight times as many pregnancy help centers as abortion facilities in Nebraska,” she said. “These centers provide free services, supported by donor dollars, so that a woman does not feel trapped into having an abortion. We will continue to support this effort and find new and innovative ways to promote life-affirming options.”

The Nebraska Walk for Life – held in Lincoln every year since 1974 to commemorate the Roe v. Wade anniversary – will also continue, Danek said, as a way to remember the millions of lives lost to abortion.

“The thousands of pro-life Nebraskans who attend the Walk for Life are committed to remembering these precious, innocent lives,” she said. “We are therefore committed to a Nebraska Walk for Life 2023.”

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION

A bill that would have banned abortion in Nebraska, in case Roe v. Wade was overturned, fell short two votes during the regular legislative session.

The failed effort is one of the reasons “why we will continue our important work of electing pro-life representatives at the local, state and national level,” Danek said.

Zebolsky, of Nebraskans Embracing Life, said a special session or other action of the Nebraska Legislature is needed to make at least surgical and prescribed chemical abortions illegal. Otherwise, the state could become a destination state for abortion, he said.

He urged Nebraskans to contact their state senators to defend life through meaningful pro-life legislation.

“In vitro fertilization abortions, abortifacient contraceptives, and nothing short of diabolical medical research from aborted fetal tissue must end for the legal protection of unborn human life,” he said.

“It is important to know that most abortions occur through abortifacient contraceptives, in vitro abortions and abortions committed in medical research,” Zebolsky said. “We must still fight these moral outrages against human dignity, along with suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, discrimination against the disabled, elderly and infirm. The political opposition will continue to introduce legislation that opposes life, which we must stand against.”

UNCHANGING MISSION

Regardless of any political decision, our mission will be constant,” Zebolsky said of Nebraskans Embracing Life, “but we must stress reaching out to mothers with the wide support that is available from dozens of organizations across Nebraska and Iowa, with additional support from literally thousands of pro-life church leaders and clergy, professional counselors, medical personnel of varying specialties, social services and mentors.  They are well prepared and ready to help mothers with virtually any need they may have, including considerations for adoption, shelters, treatment for physiological or psychological circumstances, parenting classes, addiction recovery, child care, continuing education and so much more.”

“Every one of us needs to be aware of these resources and be able to make a quick referral,” he said, citing directories for pregnancy resource centers available on the website, nebraskansembracinglife.org.

“Every home refrigerator, church, business and organization should have such a list ready and available. … It includes hotline numbers for pregnancy counseling and assessment but also crisis intervention, suicide prevention, child sex trafficking, child abuse, healing after abortion, addiction recovery and immediate contact information, all critical to preventing loss of life in abortion by helping the mother. 

“Our immediate compassionate, non judgmental, Christlike ministry to the mothers that we encounter directly or indirectly, saves lives in these areas and so many more.

“Teaching people the beauty and freedom of living lives of chastity and purity, and engaging the culture to stop pornography and strengthen the family, especially building the ‘domestic church,’ are ways to prevent not only abortions, but depression and other negative consequences of engaging in unhealthy lifestyles,” Zebolsky said. “Providing spiritual resources, education, information and contacts contribute to a culture of life.

“But each of us must be ready to help a mother in an unexpected pregnancy,” he said. 

 BE THAT PERSON

“With the overturn of Roe, let us be encouraged that our prayers and works have mattered,” Castle said. “Now let us double down in our work to impact hearts and minds for saving lives.

“Our focus remains the same, to prevent abortion by reaching students and abortion-vulnerable mothers with the “REMEMBER The Unborn” message,” he said.  “LIFE Runners accept Christ’s call to proclaim the Gospel of Life and to usher healing to those wounded by abortion (Luke 9:2). We work to make abortion unthinkable.”

He noted a survey in which “78% of post-abortion mothers said if they had encountered ONE supportive person or encouraging message, they would have chose life.”

Be that one person, Castle said.

“Your ongoing prayer and witness to your neighbor in planting seeds of truth will bring about a culture of life, regardless of the political environment,” Zebolsky said.

“No matter what happens, we must pray that we continue to protect life from conception without exception in prayer, in action, in peaceful but bold witness,” he said.

“We must be ready and willing to witness pro-life truths to our youth, our neighbors, coworkers and anyone who will listen. A witness to the Gospel of our Savior brings life.”