If the pro-life movement’s sole aim was to shrink the number of abortions, you would have heard its leading activists proclaiming this happy news on every sympathetic website, radio program, and cable outlet in the country. “Historic Breakthrough in the Battle Against Abortion!” the headlines would have screamed. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., and in statehouses across the country, pro-life legislators would have dropped their opposition to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act and announced support for expanding it, realizing that this one provision of the ACA promised to do far more to lower the abortion rate than four decades of railing against Roe.
But of course we saw none of this. The question is why.
And the answer is that the pro-life movement, which consists largely of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants, doesn’t just want to lower the abortion rate. It also wants to win a culture war in the name of “traditional values” — and encouraging the widespread use of birth control doesn’t fit with its conception of tradition, which holds that women are first and foremost meant to be mothers, children are a gift from God, pre-marital sex should be strongly discouraged, both husband and wife should be “open to life” during sexual intercourse, abortion should never be considered an acceptable choice, and the government should enforce all of this by outlawing the procedure.