By Sharon Bernstein, Gabriella Borter and Brad Brooks
- For a Mississippi doctor, it was a glimpse of a fetal arm. For a police officer, it was the treatment of anti-abortion protesters outside a clinic. A Catholic leader was galvanized by the civil rights movement.
These and other experiences shaped prominent abortion opponents in their decades-long effort to see the U.S. Supreme Court reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.
That could come any day. As they await a Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that might gut Roe's protections, some leaders of the anti-abortion movement reflected on how they reached this point.
DR. BEVERLY MCMILLAN
Most Fridays, Dr. Beverly McMillan, 79, can be found praying outside Mississippi's only abortion clinic.
Her quiet opposition is a far cry from the start of her obstetrics and gynecology career. In 1975, McMillan became the first doctor to provide abortions at Mississippi's first free-standing abortion clinic.
She resigned abruptly three years later, she said, “struck with the humanity” of a pregnancy she aborted. In an interview, she recalled how she could make out the tiny arm muscle of a 12-week-old fetus, reminding her of her young son.
The Jackson, Mississippi, resident has dedicated much of the four decades since trying to sway public opinion against abortion.
About 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Even so, McMillan and fellow anti-abortion advocates have successfully pushed for legislation such as her state's 15-week abortion ban, which spurred the legal battle that is expected to end with the Supreme Court overhauling federal abortion rights.
“Who would have thought that Mississippi’s 15-week limit on abortions would be at the Supreme Court level? I certainly didn’t,” McMillan said.
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