On the 20th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, new political realities shape abortion strategies for both sides.

At the nineteenth annual March for Life rally in Washington last year, optimism was running high. Some 70,000 prolifers had gathered to mark what many believed could be the last commemoration of the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. A prolife president sat in the Oval Office with a reasonably good chance of being reelected. Congress had failed in all its attempts to repeal prolife federal regulations. And most heartening of all, the day before the march, the high court had announced it had accepted a case from Pennsylvania that could radically scale back—and perhaps even overturn—the Roe decision.

“You’ve been willing to go through the bad times to get to the good times,” Rep. Ron Mazzoli (D-Ky.) told the prolife crowd. “And these are definitely better times,” he added, drawing a resounding cheer.

The court speaks

What a difference a year makes. In June, the court, as expected, upheld Pennsylvania’s restrictions on abortion. But in a stunning and divided opinion, the justices also reaffirmed the basic holding of Roe: that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion. Then in November, Americans elected a new president who has firmly aligned himself with the prochoice movement and has promised to appoint only judges who support a woman’s right to choose. Eleven new seats in the House of Representatives went to abortion-rights supporters, further solidifying the prochoice majority.

And on November 30, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that said Guam’s ban on most abortions was unconstitutional. The action was widely interpreted as a signal that judicial chipping ...

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