Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the SBA List, brought White House-branded Twizzlers and a commemorative plate along to the gathering—spoils of her success in Washington. “We believe we are coming much closer to a different kind of world, where Roe v. Wade is either unrecognizable because it’s been chipped away or it’s overturned and laws start to flourish in states that reflect the will of the people who live there,” she told me. Over the past year, the SBA List’s research organization, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, has undertaken a massive effort to look at the state resources available to pregnant women and children, including housing, medical centers, income limits for Medicaid, and more. This served as a foundation for PLAN, which is still in its early stages. The project—imagining the “beatific vision” of a post-Roe world, as Dannenfelser put it—is partly pitched at people like Bachelder who oppose abortion but shy away from partisan battles. “A lot of donors, a lot of people in the evangelical community, a lot of breathing human beings just hate politics right now,” Dannenfelser said. She spends her days in the “roughest area” of politics, she added, fighting over a controversial issue in tightly contested elections. “My dream, and my belief, is that at the heart of the pro-life movement, there is not that dissonance” of political opposition.
There is an inherent tension in an anti-abortion-rights project designed to rally social services for women, no matter how ostensibly apolitical it may be. Over the past two decades, the anti-abortion-rights movement has aligned itself almost exclusively with the GOP, which generally favors cutting government funding for housing, food stamps, and other programs that support poor women and children. No group has solidified this partisan alignment more than the SBA List, which pours money and manpower into supporting Republicans in competitive races. As Democrats more aggressively pursue the expansion of abortion rights, the SBA List sees the Republican Party as its only viable ally, at least at the national level.
Bachelder envisions a future stage of the PLAN project in which policy makers would do a version of the “gap-planning analysis” that businesses use to anticipate what customers—in this case, pregnant women—might need. But getting there, to a place where most anti-abortion-rights legislators would also champion the expansion of social services, would require a massive political realignment. Although a post-Roe world has seemed more possible than ever lately, it’s also a ways off.
Read: When conservative justices revolt
This summer, the anti-abortion-rights movement suffered a major defeat at the Supreme Court, when Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing in June Medical Services v. Russo to strike down a Louisiana law that would have restricted abortion access. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at Roberts in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, calling him “a disappointment to conservatives.”
Some anti-abortion-rights activists may dream of building a postabortion future. But for the present, the political fight is all-consuming. “One thing is clear,” Pence tweeted in June: “We need more Conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. #FourMoreYears.”