June 24th will be a day I long remember. I was fortunate enough to live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for the summer and be present when Dobbs was finally handed down. That morning I was seated in a café near Union Station, sitting down to my work for the day. It was around a quarter after ten o’clock when my phone was barraged by various exclamations of joy, and I knew it could mean but one thing. For a few minutes I had to sit in the café and simply feel stunned at such a result: my entire life I had lived under the utterly unjust abortion regime of the United States. For the first time, I felt immense hope that it may finally be toppled throughout the country.

I immediately rushed to the Supreme Court to witness the subsequent reaction to the decision. Crowds had begun to gather, and the Capitol police had already been dispatched to the scene to preempt a reenactment of the “summer of love.” Soon after I arrived, a large crowd of pro-life students began parading down the street to celebrate the decision. They were met by their counterparts, and it was then that I first felt my joy recede that day.

The first reason why was the reaction of the pro-abortion protestors to the decision. While they were largely peaceful, and remained so in D.C. throughout the weekend, their signs and chants almost made me prefer the violence of 2020. The destruction of that summer was at least premised on the anger resulting from a violation of personhood, whereas the signs that day were the product of a cruel and calculating hatred. Mothers brought their children only to scream in front of them that they did not necessarily have to “choose” them; one mother who looked at least six months pregnant wrote with a sharpie on her bulging belly that her child was not yet a human; several men declared that they would “aid and abet” abortions. In that moment, broken windows and looted shops seemed to pale in comparison to the inhumanity of those slogans.

I also despaired at seeing how much work was yet to be done that day. Much of the American public still refused to recognize the humanity of unborn children, and several states still protected abortion in varying degrees. It seemed that we were an eternity away from achieving justice for those who had been denied it so long, and that the task may not be completed even in my own lifetime.

Of course, pessimism is not new to movements dedicated to the recognition of human dignity: when Dred Scott was handed down by the Taney court, the reaction to it was not all too unfamiliar. Stephen Douglas hailed the decision as a major win for “popular sovereignty,” a doctrine that, like democracy today, is rarely ever divorced from its supporter’s own ideology. The president, James Buchanan, immediately made it his duty to enforce the decision vigorously, and it seemed that after such an enlightened beginning to the United States of America, the country had just abandoned all its claims to being a pillar of liberty and equality. While many were indeed disgusted by this travesty, it was Abraham Lincoln who fully understood the careful web that had been woven to make the decision possible and how deeply a betrayal it was of the principles of his country. After excoriating the reasoning of the argument, he concluded with words that ought to haunt our own ruling class today:

The Republicans inculcate, with whatever of ability they can, that the negro is a man; that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and that the field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the wrong of his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him; compliment themselves as Union-savers for doing so; and call the indefinite outspreading of his bondage “a sacred right of self-government”

With perfect accuracy Lincoln described the campaign of dehumanization that would be waged 165 years later by the supporters of abortion. Any attempt to defend unborn children is now cast as “Christian fascism,” and the right to kill a child is equated with autonomy and the “sacred right” of democracy. Thanks to a repentant Supreme Court, these arguments are no longer enshrined in law, but they are still written in the hearts of many of its subjects. 

So, while at first halted by the limited nature of that victory, I was again reminded of the momentousness of the day. At long last, the Supreme Court had corrected one of the greatest errors in American history. Despite the demonic display in front of the Court, and the fact that some states still did not recognize the humanity of the unborn; despite the incoming fights over the viability of a federal ban, and the status of the current coalition, it was a day for pure rejoicing. The joy of my fellow students on First Street that morning was a microcosm of what our reaction to Dobbs should be: unreserved thanksgiving.

On that note, the day held a two-fold significance for me. I was awake especially early that morning to attend mass for the feast day of the Sacred Heart, a day which providentially fell upon the traditional date of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the infant who “leaped” in his mother’s womb. That morning, I did not believe in coincidences. With these commemorations in mind, after viewing the scene at the Court I walked eastward to the Emancipation Memorial to remind myself of the hope with which we should all be endowed. There I sang Te Deum laudamus, with the knowledge that even with so much yet to accomplish, June 24th was a day of triumph.

Loren Brown is an editorial assistant at Modern Age.