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On two-year anniversary of Dobbs, pro-life activists remember the historic day

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Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, celebrates outside of the Supreme Court after the overturn of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. / Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano

CNA Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

It was slightly past 10 a.m. on June 24, 2022, a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. Hundreds were gathered outside the Supreme Court of the United States waiting for what the justices would decide in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. 

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, delivered the decision to the crowd from the steps of the Supreme Court: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”

Immediately following her words, tears of joy were shed by one side of the crowd while the other was filled with disappointment. 

Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, was at the Supreme Court on that historic day and told CNA she experienced the “purest joy” and for the first time knew “what it meant to actually just weep because you were so happy.”

Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, celebrates the overturn on Roe v. Wade outside of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano
Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, celebrates the overturn on Roe v. Wade outside of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano

Deretich, who at the time of the overturning was the state government affairs coordinator for Students for Life, was already in D.C. with other staff and roughly 200 of the group’s top student leaders for their annual National Leadership Collective. On the day the decision was made, knowing it would most likely happen then, the entire group spent part of their day at the Supreme Court before going back to their training.

“When the decision happened it was one of the best experiences of our lives because we had about 200 students flood the court with their ‘I’m the pro-life generation’ signs [and] ‘I’m part of the post-Roe generation,’” she said. “So, it was an honor to be with Students for Life as well as all of our top student leaders to be there for that moment.”

Despite the extreme heat and being “drenched in our own sweat,” Deretich said that “we were so happy I don’t think any of us really cared or realized how hot it was.”

The 25-year-old grew up in a Christian, home-schooling household where she was taught from a young age about the sanctity of life. When she was in high school she did an internship with her local pro-life organization, but it wasn’t until infanticide was legalized in New York in 2018 while she was in college that her passion for the life cause was truly ignited. 

“I remember looking at my phone and seeing the recording of New York legislators cheering in joy that they passed an infanticide bill and immediately — I’ve never felt this feeling before — but this burning fire ignited in my heart and I knew … in that moment I had to protect life in law. That was going to be my life’s mission,” she recalled. 

Savannah Dudzik (center) outside of the Supreme Court with two other pro-lifers on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik
Savannah Dudzik (center) outside of the Supreme Court with two other pro-lifers on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik

Another pro-lifer who jumped on the first plane to D.C. when she heard the news was Savannah Dudzik, an events representative with Live Action. At the time she was working for a few pro-life organizations and heard the news while on a Zoom call and immediately started “to cry with joy,” she told CNA in an interview. 

“I got off the Zoom call, and the first person I called was my dad. My dad has been involved in the pro-life movement his whole life as well,” Dudzik recalled. “I told him that I really just wanted to be there, at the Supreme Court, for this historic day. His advice was to book the first flight out of Tampa, so that’s what I did!”

She arrived at the Supreme Court in the afternoon and stayed until dark — celebrating with other pro-lifers.

“There was an overwhelming joy on the pro-life side: Our prayers had been answered! People who had been fighting for this their whole lives were there with tears in their eyes, and all the young people had a renewed vigor,” she said.

Dudzik returned to the Supreme Court the following day for the celebration rally where she said the atmosphere had “an air of sobriety.”

“The ecstatic feeling had worn off a bit and we realized that now this would be a tough issue fought at the federal level and state by state. The fight had only just begun.”

After the overturn of Roe, Dudzik began working with the pro-life organization Live Action, where she attends events across the country spreading the pro-life message and educating people on the truth about abortion. She also became a wife and mother to a baby girl, whom, she said, has given her more motivation to do pro-life work.

“From the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, working in the pro-life movement has become even more personal and close to my heart,” the 22-year-old shared. “Standing in front of the Supreme Court this year after the National March for Life and realizing that in D.C. I could easily kill my 23-week-old baby legally, it brought me to tears.”

She added: “Then, when my little baby girl was born, my vigor for spreading the message of a culture of life grew even more. Children are the greatest blessing — now I know this firsthand. My baby isn’t inhibiting me at all, squashing my dreams, or making my life miserable: She’s actually propelling me to do more to raise awareness and spread a culture of life.”

Savannah Dudzik sits in the airport holding a newspaper sharing the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik
Savannah Dudzik sits in the airport holding a newspaper sharing the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik

As for Deretich, soon after the overturn of Roe she took on a new role with Students for Life of America, becoming the government affairs coordinator at the federal level. 

Her main focus now consists of “making sure that even the very pro-life senators and Congress members know that the fight is not over because a lot of them wash their hands like, ‘We’re done now. Roe is overturned,’” she explained, adding: “We still have to talk about it. We still have to take actions on it and the fight is not over. It’s not just a state issue.”

Both Deretich and Dudzik agree there have been many wins since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, including 14 states enacting laws that ban abortion and offer full protection of human life. However, they said there is still much work to be done, in particular this November when several states — including Florida, Colorado, and South Dakota — will be voting on ballot initiatives regarding abortion.

You can find more information regarding state laws on abortion and ballot initiatives here


Source: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/258064/on-two-year-anniversary-of-dobbs-pro-life-activists-remember-the-historic-day


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