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A year after Roe was overturned, some anti-abortion supporters say little has changed

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Today marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion. Still, some opponents of abortion rights say the movement has a long way to go. Here's Sarah Boden of WESA reporting from the National Right to Life's annual convention. This year, it's in Pittsburgh.

SARAH BODEN, BYLINE: Organizers kicked off today with a quick moment of celebration.

CAROL TOBIAS: Happy anniversary.

(APPLAUSE)

BODEN: Carol Tobias is president of the National Right to Life Committee. She recalls what it was like last year when the news of the high court's decision broke.

TOBIAS: A lot of tears of joy, cries of excitement - and then it was kind of impressive. Everybody sat back down, kept on going with the general sessions and the workshops because we knew we had work to do.

BODEN: Not everyone at the conference was elated. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is a self-described pro-life feminist. She believes that life begins at conception and that abortion ends that human life. But while people were hugging and high-fiving, Herndon-De La Rosa says she was shocked.

DESTINY HERNDON-DE LA ROSA: I actually went up to my room and cried.

BODEN: She says people will continue to terminate unwanted pregnancies, whether it's legal or not. The Supreme Court didn't change that.

HERNDON-DE LA ROSA: Right now, fertility is absolutely a liability for females. Still, nothing has changed other than the law.

BODEN: The heart of the issue, she says, is a lack of resources such as affordable housing and health care access. On that she finds common ground with abortion rights supporters who she knows in Texas, where she lives.

HERNDON-DE LA ROSA: You know, if you're truly pro-choice, let's make sure that pregnant people actually feel like they do have a choice here. And, you know, we need access to all of the options.

BODEN: The need for a stronger social safety net is something that conference attendees bring up a lot, both in conversation with me and each other. Maria Gallagher is the legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

MARIA GALLAGHER: Because I think that you have to have a living wage for people. And I think that it's important for us, as a state, to pursue policies that promote families and promote life, and that includes our economic sphere.

BODEN: For one thing, Gallagher wants to expand funds that provide services such as counseling and temporary housing to people faced with unplanned pregnancies. And she thinks educational opportunities and health care access are key.

GALLAGHER: We need to have those conversations now because we're in the post-Roe era. And if we don't have them now, when are we going to have them?

BODEN: No one I meet at National Right to Life is taking victory laps over last year's ruling. Abortion remains legal in the majority of states. Catherine Jacobs is a retired art teacher from upstate New York. Her state is one of a handful that strengthened protections to abortion this year, which is partly why she doesn't like telling people where she lives.

CATHERINE JACOBS: I don't want people to think that just because I'm from New York, I'm a pro-choicer - because I'm not.

BODEN: But Jacobs says Roe getting struck down was a miracle, and maybe that will happen again.

JACOBS: And don't we have to just keep going anyway? Just because of something that you've been fighting for so long isn't happening, you can't give up.

BODEN: It took half a century to overturn Roe. People at the National Right to Life Convention say it might be another 50 years for abortion to be completely banned in the U.S., but they're committed. For NPR News, I'm Sarah Boden in Pittsburgh.

DETROW: That story comes from NPR's partnership with WESA and KFF Health News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah Boden covers health, science and technology for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.