The Culture Wars After Roe

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

On January 21, 2025, the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s 47thpresident following his victory in the 2024 election, the Republican-controlled House and Senate adopted a new law barring all abortions in the United States.  It is entitled “Pure Reproduction — Only Loving Infants & Families Endure,” aka “PRO-LIFE.”

On a bitter cold day, the newly installed president held a signing ceremony for the new law in the White House Rose Garden.  Literally freezing, Trump signed the bill into law before a large gathering of pro-life campaign supporters and leading Republican politicians as well as friends, family and major doners.  Giant overhead heaters had been installed so that some of those attending were actually sweeting. Like a world-championship sporting event, the ever-attentive media carried the event live, including on TV, radio and innumerable streaming services.

One commentator noted that Trump reminded him of former Pres. Ronald Reagan. “Reagan was dubbed the ‘Evangelist in Chief,’” recalled the reporter. “Like Reagan, Trump is the leader of the so-called ‘Christian Nation movement.’”[1]  Another excited journalist reminded her audience that some Republicans considered the new legislation “moderate” because it allows individual states to determine the degree of anti-abortion enforcement that would be maintained. “Some states adopted an absolutist approach, prohibiting all abortions under any circumstance,” she noted.  “Others were more moderate, permitting abortions for medical reasons or due to rape, whether by a stranger or parent.”

One Step Backward

Tens of thousands of angry Americans assembled at the U.S. Capitol to protest the adoption of the nationwide ban on abortion.  Most of those who came out were women, notably aging white women.  As one said, “I fought for woman’s right a half-century ago and now we’ve gone back to the Dred-Scott days.” She then lamented, “What happened to our country? We’re taking a step backwards.”

A significant number apparently younger heterosexual male/female couples were also at the protest.  One couple said that they came for two reasons.  First, to protect the right to sexual privacy; with whom and however one wanted it as long as it was truly consensual.  Second, to ensure that people distinguish between the fetus and a child, one is a conglomerate of cells not yet formed into a viable human being and the other, for better or worse, a possible person.

Washington had not seen such a gathering since the ill-fated insurrection of January 6, 2021, when angry Trump supporters attempted a coup d’état. Now it was the Democrats and independents turn to rant their rage, many insisting that local Republican officials had stolen the election from Vice Pres. Kamala Harris, the last-minute replacement for Pres. Joe Biden who, unexpectantly, suffered a heart attack and was forced to quit the campaign.  As a local progressive Democrat said, “This is 2020 turned on its head!”

A New America

Not since the enactment and enforcement of Prohibition a century ago has the full force of all American law enforcement entities — federal, state and local — been pulled-together in a religiously sanctioned campaign to enforce secular moral standards. It signifies a unique moment in U.S. history.

One of the most controversial elements of the new law is the establishment of a new federal administrative unit dubbed the “Pro-Life Family Service.”  The agency’s task is to oversee the nation-wide enforcement effort to halt all abortions.  This enforcement also included prosecution and detention, thus forging a distinct and separate judicial system.

The new law ends traditional doctor-patient confidentiality rules when involving abortion.[2]  It extends the definition of abortion to include the destruction of the fertilized human egg classifying it as either “fetal or child endangerment” or an act of murder.  It empowers both federal and local enforcement authorities to engage in sex profiling to identify and target women who might seek an abortion. It makes Texas’ $10,000 bounty into a nationwide system, thus targeting anyone who helps a woman seek an abortion.  It prohibits individual states from blocking the prosecution of women seeking out-of-state abortions.  It also permits U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to arrest “abortion refugees” going to Mexico, Canada, Cuba and other countries for an abortion and it legalizes the Coast Guard blocking of floating clinics in the Gulf of Mexico.

The new law restricts Planned Parenthood, local hospitals and clinics from providing an abortion or providing abortion information.  It targets local groups (e.g., Abortion Delivered) from providing abortions; the 90-plus local organizations that raise money to pay for abortions; groups that provide legal services defending women (e.g., If/When/How) who have had an abortion; groups that provide referral services (e.g., Clergy Consultation Service); the underground network of local organization and women’s group that facilitate abortions; andthe underground network of midwifes, doulas and herbalists that assist women performing a self-administered abortion.

Invoking the 1873 Comstock Act, the new law permits the U.S. Postal Service to seize and destroy any actual or suspected anti-abortion medications – e.g., misoprostol (Crytotec) and mifepristone (RU-486) – or pro-abortion literature from being distributed through the mail.  In an effort to halt self-managed abortions, it bars telehealth programs or classes that discuss self-abortion and bans the manufacturing and sales of vacuum-aspiration devices (e.g., Del-Em device).

Pro-Life Family Farms

One of the least discussed features of the new law is the funding to establish and operate college-like campuses, “family farms,” in each state.  At these “farms” pregnant women suspected of seeking an “illegal” abortion or attempting a self-abortion are to be housed until the child is born.  After the birth, the mother could either take the child home or the child would be awarded to — adopted by — a deserving family.

The leading conservative Senator who originally proposed “Pro-Life Family Farms” said he was inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; he admits he never read the book but enjoyed the streaming series which he saw a couple of time. He believes that the women who have been convicted of seeking or attempting an abortion – as well as the women who are convicted of aiding and abetting such an effort — and required to stay at a “farm” will not only give birth to their babies but raise them in a true all-American, religious-sanctioned manner.

The good Senator made little mention of the fact that the “family farms” are really prison campuses.  They are secured facilities with razor-wired fencing and armed guards patrolling the boundaries as well as specially trained “officer nurses” and pro-life doctors providing medical assistance and counseling to the “visitors.”

Nor did he refer to the new legislation prosed to follow the successful ban on abortions.  This includes the efforts underway to prohibit same-sex marriage, the criminalization of homosexual acts and the end of contraceptive sales to unmarried adults.  Many states have passed laws criminalizing sex among consenting pre-adults (i.e., under either 18 or 21 years), but this has not been proposed for nationwide adherence.

Experts anticipate the total ban on abortion, like Prohibition of the 1920s, will last for at least a decade. Grassroots efforts are underway in states across the country to end the ban on abortion. Many are calling for a new 28th Amendment to Constitution to end the ban and establishing the right to privacy, covering the legalization of a woman’s right to an abortion.   It is believed that it will take that long to not only elect a new president supporting a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, but radically change the make-up of the House and Senate so the Congress can adopt, the states can ratify and the president can sign such an Amendment.




David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at; check out