Former vice president Mike Pence is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
“I came here today to speak about right and wrong, to say life is a human right, and urge the Supreme Court of the United States to choose life,” he said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
Pence delivered his remarks in anticipation of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1. The case involves a Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks, and challenges two landmark decisions: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992.
“As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” Pence said.
A nonprofit organization founded by Pence, Advancing American Freedom, filed an amicus brief together with other organizations urging the court to overturn Roe and Casey.
“We are asking the court, in no uncertain terms, to make history,” Pence said at the Nov. 30 event. “We are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade and restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.”
He emphasized what he called the “truth about abortion.”
“Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, the heartbreaking consequences of the Roe decision cannot be overstated,” he said. “More than 62 million unborn children in the United States have been aborted.”
Their lives mattered, he urged.
“In the 48 years since the court’s ruling, unborn children have been relegated into a caste of second-class citizens, devoid of the most basic human rights,” he said. “Precious babies have lived outside the protection of the law, and at the mercy of a culture that devalues them and an abortion industry that profits from their suffering.”
Pence also highlighted the women wounded by abortion, including those facing regret after their abortions. He hoped that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, and declared that “Americans are ready for an end to the judicial tyranny of Roe v. Wade.”
“When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade — and I believe with all my heart that day will come either now or in the near future — it will not come as a surprise to anyone,” he said. “It will simply be the culmination of a 50-year journey whose course and destination has been driven by the will of the American people.”
He called for prayers for the justices.
“I urge my fellow Americans to cherish life, to pray, tomorrow and every day between now and next spring for the justices on our Supreme Court to have the courage to seize this moment for life and join us as we humbly ask our new conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said, to “Overturn Roe v. Wade and give America a new beginning for life.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, introduced Pence as a “longtime friend and pro-life leader” whose “tireless advocacy personally and at nearly every level of public service has been indispensable in getting us to this pivotal moment.”
“There’s no question that because of heroes like Mike Pence, and specifically because of Mike Pence, we are standing here today,” she said.
“Without Trump and Pence, we would not be sitting here right now,” she told CNA of the previous administration, which appointed three Supreme Court justices.
She also credited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for refusing to move forward with the confirmation of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court justice in 2016, during the Obama administration.
Like Pence, Dannenfelser expressed hope for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“It makes a lot of sense, given that four justices agreed to answer only one question — if any pre-viability abortion limit is constitutional,” she said of the question posed by the Dobbs case.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case asks “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.
In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, bans abortion weeks before the point of viability.
“To set themselves up with that question to only just go back to Roe v. Wade seems rather unlikely,” Dannenfelser told CNA. “The question in my mind is, what would it be? What would it look like?”
“The stakes are nothing less than the lives of millions of little boys and girls waiting to be born and the welfare of their mothers,” she said during her introductory remarks.