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Pro-lifers rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on December 1.Shutterstock

(LifeSiteNews) — As the U.S. Supreme Court opened hearings for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization  on Dec. 1, pro-lifers across the country increased their presence on the ground. From three unborn lives saved in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to a 100-person turnout in El Cajon, California, the potential for life-protective laws being passed cast a long shadow, triggering two-day vigils from coast to coast.

About 200 cities participated in vigils around the opening day of hearings.

According to 40 Days for Life, at least one baby was saved at the Dobbs hearing vigil. More were recorded in New Jersey and Georgia.

Steve Karlen, 40 Days for Life campaign director, spoke in Jackson in front of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion facility on the evening of Nov. 30. The large crowd of onlookers included Protestant pastors and the local Catholic bishop. No abortion supporters were in attendance.

“Forty Days for Life leaders are fired up about the potential to see Roe v. Wade overturned,” Karlen said. “We’re currently accepting applications for our March 2-April 10 campaign, and interest is high. We’ve received more applications than we had at this point a year ago — and last year was a record-setting campaign. We continue to see new cities join the campaign, demonstrating a strong and widespread grassroots commitment to ending abortion.”

Momentum from coast to coast

In Richmond, Virginia, about 25-30 people prayed each day of the vigil, setting up outside the city’s west-end Planned Parenthood, said campaign leader Barbara Constable.

On Dec. 1, two vigil participants were interviewed by NPR, displaying a to-scale model of a 12-week-old preborn baby, a week by week developmental chart, the East End Pregnancy Center calendar of babies saved, and the Option Line and Abortion Pill Reversal number flyers handed out by volunteers.

Richmond is expanding to become a 365 location, with sidewalk volunteers covering as many Planned Parenthood opening hours as possible, even outside of the fall and spring campaigns.

In Thousand Oaks, California, pro-lifers participated in a 24-hour vigil. To cover the two days, 82 participants stood in unity for 48 continuous hours. Only one hour was left open due to a volunteer’s vehicle issues.

“A community really came together,” campaign leader Leonore Schuetz said. “The surrounding cities to Thousand Oaks came together to stand vigil. Protestants and Catholic church members and Mormon church [members] participated. …The fruits are something we will see later, but there were some great things that happened amongst our participants, families and within marriages. I’m very humbled and moved by how everyone came together.”

The Nov. 30-Dec. 1 vigils represented an uptick in local efforts, strengthening the increasingly successful pro-life movement. But while the abortion industry loses the support of the American people, it still maintains federal support and funding.

“The abortion industry is weak at the grass roots, as we have seen Planned Parenthood close over 30 percent of their locations in the last decade and have high employee turnover,” said Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life president and CEO. “But they have been strong at the federal level with tax funding and the most pro-abortion government in U.S. history. Now, due to a new Supreme Court, Roe could be overturned and they are nervous.”

The legal policy organization Americans United for Life has been credited with driving “the bulk of” hundreds of pro-life bills passed in states over the last decade.

“Support for these bills is the driving force behind the movement across the United States,” said Steve Aden, AUL’s chief legal officer. “While [the movement’s] relative strength does vary a bit from state to state, pro-life advocates are making their voices heard even in pro-abortion states.”

“Most of the pro-life policies that have reached the Supreme Court were enacted at the state level,” Aden said. “Without strong activism at the state level, the movement would have little to no momentum.”

Serving women in a post-Roe world

If the Dobbs case does result in overturning Roe v Wade, states will be faced with abortion law decisions.

Let Them Live reports that 73 percent of women choose abortion in response to their economic circumstances. 

“We are going to have a lot of work to do, as churches and communities, to support women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, and loving them enough to listen and provide care,” Constable said in an email to campaign participants in Richmond.

“The pro-life movement, because of the grassroots success, is better equipped for a post-Roe world than an abortion industry that has been top heavy and gets little support at the local level,” Carney said.

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