The Hill

Opinion: The authority to protect life is returned to the people and their elected representatives 



The responsibility to protect life has always been on our shoulders as elected representatives of the American people. In the new Dobbs era, great attention has been given to how individual states have enacted laws to protect unborn human life. Those actions to protect the most vulnerable among us, however, do not preclude the role of Congress to fulfill our responsibilities.  

The U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson affirmed, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” This ruling is abundantly clear: “Elected representatives” refers to officials at all levels of government, including the federal legislature.  Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh further clarified this in his concurring opinion, which explains that the Constitution leaves the issue of abortion for “the people and their elected representatives to resolve through the democratic process in the States or Congress.”  

The authority to protect unborn children and their mothers is clearly available to Congress. The Supreme Court granted our request in the Congressional amicus brief we filed in Dobbs, where we stated, “It is long overdue for this Court to return lawmaking to legislators… Amici respectfully urge the Court to affirm the constitutional authority of the federal and state governments to safeguard the lives and health of their citizens, born and not yet born.” A total of 228 anti-abortion members of Congress joined this amicus brief.  

While the anti-abortion movement has always sought to change hearts and minds through decades of fighting, the anti-abortion battle in the courts, today, we can now make a real difference to ensure our laws reflect the true heart of our nation. Annual Marist polling consistently shows that more than two-thirds of Americans believe abortion should at the very least be limited to the first three months (12 weeks) of pregnancy, which is in stark contrast to the Democratic Party’s radical abortion-rights agenda that supports abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth.  

Acting on the will of the people, Congress has already passed several commonsense laws to protect unborn children from the lethal violence of abortion, including banning gruesome partial-birth abortions, prohibiting the mailing of abortion drugs, and stopping taxpayer funding for abortion. In this same tradition, since Dobbs, anti-abortion members of Congress have proposed thoughtful measures to combat the Democrats’ radical policies to allow abortion on demand, even when the baby feels pain or has a beating heart, which sadly persist in many parts of our nation. We must continue to build a national consensus for the cause of life, expose the Democrats’ abortion extremism, and win the hearts and minds of the American people. 

Abortion-rights advocates do their very best to sow divisions between women’s health and protecting the unborn, painting a false binary choice between the two efforts. Fortunately, the American people largely recognize that we can and should do both. This year’s Marist polling found that 90 percent of Americans believe it is possible to have laws that protect the life of unborn babies as well as the health and well-being of women. The 118th Congress is comprised of anti-abortion lawmakers who enthusiastically pursue both of these efforts, which are naturally intertwined.  

With the Biden administration leaning far into their abortion agenda at the federal level, we must utilize congressional power of the purse and pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act as a tourniquet to stop the flow of American tax dollars for abortion. Instead of allowing tax dollars to aid and abet the abortion industry in ending innocent lives, we should support mothers and pregnancy care centers across America, which provide free support services to pregnant mothers in difficult circumstances.  

The moral obligation to stand up for life and protect human dignity has always been assigned to our elected officials in a free and civil society. We now have the power to fulfill this obligation and establish laws that protect all innocent lives. That is why we have a responsibility to continue putting forth legislation in Congress that aims to save as many unborn lives as possible. Let us move forward in the fight for life with the words of former President Reagan in mind, “I believe that until and unless someone can establish that the unborn child is not a living human being, then that child is already protected by the Constitution, which guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all of us.” 

Chris Smith is chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, and Cindy Hyde-Smith is the chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus.