Profiles of U.S. Anti-Abortion Groups

Health and Gender Policy Brief #139 | By: Geoffrey Small | August 1, 2022

Header photo taken from: Center for American Progress

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Abortion “abolitionists” are the outer edge of the anti-abortion movement. They’re looking to gain followers after the decision to overturn Roe, unsettling mainstream anti-abortion groups.

Photo taken from: Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times 

Policy Summary

With Roe v. Wade overturned, a deluge of anti-abortion trigger laws have gone into effect across the country. States like Louisiana, Texas and Missouri have created some of the strictest laws and legislative proposals in the United States.

Recent proposals include criminal and civil prosecutions for providers, people who aid in out-of-state abortions, and potentially the patients who receive them.The overwhelming restrictions and bans that were put in place after the Supreme Court decision wouldn’t have been possible without coordination from anti-abortion groups aiding state legislators.

The Thomas More Society, National Right to Life Committee, and Abolish Abortion are some of the most influential organizations that are coordinating with Republican-led states to create new laws and help enforce them. In order to understand the long-term planning and legal coordination that has taken place in anti-abortion states, a profile of these  groups can highlight the efforts being made to oppress reproductive rights.

Policy Analysis

The Thomas More Society

The Thomas More Society was founded in 1997 by corporate attorney Tom Brejcha after representing Joe Scheidler, an anti-abortion activist that was a defendant in the Supreme Court Case NOW (National Organization for Women v. Scheidler. The court case declared that a network of anti-abortion activists could face RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges, commonly used in organized crime prosecutions.

Today the organization is coordinating with Republican state legislatures to propose laws that would allow private citizens to sue individuals who aid patients living in anti-abortion states with receiving an out-of-state procedure.

Peter Breen, the Senior Legal Counsel and Vice President stated in a Washington Post article “I see civil enforcement as important for the entire abortion law because of this issue of public officials not enforcing laws they don’t like.”


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The National Right to Life Committee

The NRLC was founded in 1968 and boasts 3,000 local chapters in all 50 states. NRLC claims to be the oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, with a goal of aiding in the development of new legislation.

After the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, the organization released a model law that allows state officials, local officials, the father, or other family members to sue abortion providers.

Additionally, as a clear response to NOW v. Scheidler, the law states abortion providers would also be subject to RICO laws.


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Abolish Abortion

Abolish Abortion was founded by Bradley Pierce, a Constitutional Attorney who filed a brief during the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade. Not only was he influential in helping pass abortion restrictions in Texas, but he is currently working with Louisiana State Representatives to pass a law that would allow prosecutors to criminally charge patients who receive an abortion as a homicide . This proposal forced many anti-abortion groups to sign an open letter, led by the NRLC, to oppose the criminalization of patients. However, Pierce was opposed to this stance stating to The Washington Post that this Louisiana bill “would have done exactly what [the signees] say they believe. That is, treat a person before birth as being worthy of protection.”

Despite the internal differences in these organizations’ positions on the severity of anti-abortion legislation, they remain united in their victory in overturning Roe v. Wade. All of these organizations are working to diminish generations of reproductive rights that women in the United States were afforded. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are the two major organizations that are fighting back against the new laws and proposals that these influential anti-abortion organizations are developing. Therefore, it is crucial to donate to these organizations, in order to help protect patients from the potential to be criminally prosecuted for making decisions about their reproductive health.

Engagement Resources​

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