They said they’d have to get back to me.
I also couldn’t get a straight answer on whether the group is actively trying to make it harder to get abortions, or whether that’s just a side effect of their life-preserving activities. “We're not in the business,” Lamontagne said, “to make it harder to have [an] abortion. We're making it better for the women to make the right choice.”
But the “right choice,” in their view, is fairly obviously “not an abortion.” Yoest’s office wall is adorned with a Horton Hears a Who poster, along with its trademark phrase: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” At one point, she told me that many men feel “abused” by abortions because they “have been written out of the abortion decision” and “don't have any rights to a baby before they're born.”
Likewise, some of their efforts seem propelled by anxieties over outlandish worst-case scenarios. Their calls for stricter parental consent laws, for example, are motivated by anecdotes they’ve heard in which girls were molested and then forced by their abusers to have abortions. The women say, “‘If only my parent had been involved,’” McConchie recounted. “We were able to get around parental consent because there was not notarization, so my soccer coach was able to get around that.”
“Who's more important in the life of a young woman than the parents?” Lamontagne mused.
A countervailing horror story pro-choice advocates use, meanwhile, is that of Spring Adams, a 13-year-old girl who in 1989 became pregnant by her father. On the morning of the day of her appointment with an abortion clinic, her father shot her to death with a .30 caliber rifle while she slept.
Stories like these may whip up supporters, but they often lead to bad policy.
It’s in these “what if” fringes that the current abortion debate dwells. Pro-lifers hear about Kermit Gosnell and want to protect women from what they assume must be hoards of other abortionist butchers. Pro-choicers learn about Texans performing do-it-yourself abortions and renew their vow to protect women from the hell of undesired motherhood.
It's like when you can't remember if you locked the front door of your house in the morning, and instead of reasoning that you probably did, you spend the whole day obsessing. You envision intruders stomping around your bedroom, setting fire to your keepsakes and tucking your family’s iPads into their satchels. Except imagine it’s every day, and with one of the biggest political battles of your lifetime weighing in the balance.
All Roe v. Wade did was tell states they can’t make abortion illegal outright. Almost every other half-measure is fair game. Roe v. Wade didn’t solve the abortion question, in other words. It just “created 40 years of trench warfare,” McConchie said.
If it’s ever overturned, each state could decide exactly how much abortion it wanted, and under what circumstances.
I asked if AUL would be okay with a state opting to ban abortion entirely, in that case.
“Yes,” McConchie said. “It's the will of the people within that state to be able to act in that manner.”
“One of the things I love about America,” Yoest said, “is our federalist system.”