With the Supreme Court poised to overturn its 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, an activist who describes herself as a “pro-life feminist” believes that the country is not ready for such a change.
“We’re not ready to overturn Roe,” Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, an anti-abortion group that advocates support for mothers before and after birth, said in an interview with Yahoo News. “Legally, I understand it is a very, very big deal. But at the heart of the matter, is it going to actually help women choose life? I don’t know that it will. Because the systems that are currently in place are not set up to support women in the future. And that is a really, really scary thing.”
In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Saturday, Patrick T. Brown, a fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, expressed a similar sentiment: “The end of Roe will mean that pro-family rhetoric will need to be backed up with policy proposals that match.”
Herndon-De La Rosa, 38, said her organization believes that “human beings should be free from violence for the duration of their lifetime.”
“And that means we are womb-to-tomb pro-life,” she said. “A lot of times in the pro-life movement, it feels like it’s really focused on the politics of just restricting abortion, but in the mind of a terrified woman who is in a desperate situation, she doesn’t care what her congressman thinks about abortion. She doesn’t care what her senator thinks. She doesn’t even really care if it’s legal, because she feels absolutely trapped and terrified. And so the only antidote to that is actually making sure that we resource women well.
“It’s making sure that these systems [are] changed so that that woman’s life is not over with an unintended pregnancy,” she continued. “And that child is going to grow up and thrive, not just survive, because it is living below the poverty line with no access to education or health care or any of these other things that are vital for their development.”
Herndon-De La Rosa, a Texas native, said that she supported Democrat Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate in 2018 over incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz because she thought O’Rourke was the more “pro-life” candidate, despite his support for abortion rights.
“He was the one talking about making a society that was more equitable for sustaining life,” she said. “And no group, any group — feminists, pro-lifers, Republicans, Democrats — they’re not monoliths.”
Her comments come amid an outcry from abortion rights advocates after the publication of a leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito suggesting the nation’s high court is on the brink of overturning Roe v. Wade.
According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted May 3-6, after Alito’s opinion was published by Politico, just 31% of U.S. adults say Roe should be overturned. In contrast, nearly twice as many Americans see abortion as “a constitutional right that women in all states should have some access to” (56%) and say the procedure should be legal in all or most cases (55%).
“As somebody who got pregnant at 16 years old, when that second line [on an at-home pregnancy test] shows up, you are absolutely terrified. It is just this whirlwind of chaos. And I knew that I was never going to have an abortion, but I can tell you it didn’t make it easier,” said Herndon-De La Rosa.
“My biggest fear is that if Roe is overturned, it simply goes back to the states. It’s not like abortion disappears,” she added. “We’re going to have a lot of states that have very strong restrictions and other states that have zero restrictions.
“Now is the time that you actually have to be engaged and get out there and help women because, unfortunately, there are going to be so many women who have had one option taken away and are incredibly desperate at this point.”