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A Couple’s Long Journey in the Anti-Abortion Movement

In the early 2000s, Harvard’s Right to Life, the university branch of an anti-abortion student organization, had T-shirts made that read “Working for the Class of “25” on the back. Another shirt from that time reads: “Smile! Your mother chose life.”

On June 6, a month after news broke that the Supreme Court was planning to overturn its landmark 1973 decision to legalize abortion, a married couple who have become leaders in the anti-abortion movement took off the 20-year-old shirts. out of their closet. and tried them on again, posing for a photo on the deck of their suburban Virginia home outside of Washington.

Three weeks later, the couple, Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, a group closely associated with the Federalist Society, and Roger Severino, a vice president at the Heritage Foundation and former Trump administration official, their shared dream come true: the end of Roe v. Wade, the 50-year ruling that enshrined the right to abortion in federal law.

A majority of Americans disagree with the decision, polls show, and it devastated many people across the country, with thousands of protests in cities and abortion providers rushing to help women who now have to make long journeys to care. and, in some cases, the threat of prosecution.

But for the Severinos, a socially conservative Catholic couple who met at Harvard Law School and married two years later, the turn of events was the culmination of their life’s work: a decades-long campaign to overturn the ruling and then, they hope, , to introduce a ban on abortion throughout the United States.

“The shirt was a sign of our hope that we could help save the lives of children who would graduate from Harvard by 2025 and to a world where Roe v. Wade had been destroyed,” Roger Severino said in an interview on Friday, hours after the Supreme. The court announced its 6-to-3 opinion and overturned Roe.

“It was a daring goal at the time and we had serious doubts that it would happen,” he recalls.

When the verdict came out, Severino said, he made the sign of the cross and prayed a short prayer of thanksgiving before joining the crowd at the courthouse to enjoy the moment.

The news came as the Severinos continued to face personal challenges.

Carrie, a mother of six in her 40s, was told she had breast cancer in the late summer of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The news of her diagnosis came to the general public in one of those accidental ways that are so common on the modern internet. Her parents’ church posted a note online asking church members to pray for her health.

At the time, said Carrie Severino, she didn’t mind that her health had come to light unexpectedly because a huge development happened to have caught everyone’s attention: the confirmation of Judge Amy Comey Barrett to replace Liberal Judge Ruth Bader. Ginsburg and the court’s conservative majority.

Severino said she also didn’t mind sharing the news, despite its awkward disclosure, as it allowed her to connect and bond with women who had experienced similar health problems.

On the eve of Election Day 2020, Severino underwent chemotherapy and was preparing for surgery and radiation therapy. Her particular type of tumor, her doctors assured her, usually responded well to chemotherapy — and it was already shrinking “dramatically,” she said at the time. Two years later, her doctors have seen no signs that the disease has returned.

“As strange as it may sound,” she added, with an added touch of optimism, 2020 was “a good year to be in this.”

With much of America still somewhere in a gray zone between open and closed, there was less chance of infection — and from the relative safety of the Severinos’ makeshift TV studio in the corner of their home library, she could tell Fox News and other news cover outlets with her rampant defense of Barrett and her swift nomination by Republicans.

Cable news channels came in and sent mobile studio vans when the video quality needed to be perfect. And to manage her exhaustion from her medical condition, Severino slumped into bed or took breaks between the frenetic pace of TV and radio hits that thrashed Barrett’s critics on the left.

Now that the activities for her six children have been canceled, she was also free, she said, to focus on family time at home and put aside the usual guilt of most working parents as they navigate the blurred lines between home and life. navigate work.

Roger Severino praised Clarence Thomas, the court’s highest judge, for assigning majority opinion to Samuel Alito, who represents the hard-line, conservative Catholic legal philosophy shared by the Severinos and others in the anti-abortion movement.

Severino remembered his parents’ meeting with Thomas for the first time when he took them to a party for justice at the court.

“My mother barely spoke English,” says Severino, the child of immigrants from Bogotá, Colombia, whose mother was an orphan with only a primary education.

He said he was astonished at the respect of Thomas, who has an outside reputation, especially among the left, as a rigid, taciturn ideologue.

“He treated my parents like royalty,” Severino said.

On Friday, Thomas released a unanimous opinion that baffled and baffled liberals, a sweeping exposé of his legal philosophy suggesting that outside of Roe, cases involving the right to contraception, same-sex consensual relationships, and same-sex marriage warranted new assessments.

Roger Severino said that of all the sentiment expressed by several Supreme Court justices on Friday, Thomas’s assent best outlined the roadmap for where he wants the conservative movement to go next.

Carrie took no position Friday on which of the conservative judges who issued their own separate views were right, whether it was Alito, who wrote for the majority; or any of the others, who agreed with Alito in part, but not on all the details.

“Finally we have a court where the majority of judges recognize what the Constitution says and they have courage even in the face of these outrageous displays – the violence, the threats and the intimidation,” she said in a television interview that morning

But for Roger, Thomas was usually right. “He influenced an entire generation of lawyers, including myself,” he said. “And now his views have prevailed.”

  • The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has abruptly scheduled a hearing for Tuesday afternoon to hear what the panel called “recently obtained evidence” and include witness statements.

  • President Biden and his top officials have been provoked by Democratic questions about his plans for 2024, annoyed by what they see as a lack of respect from their party and the news media, and determined to take suggestions that he is, in fact, a cripple a year. suits and a half in his records, write Jonathan Martin and Zolan Kanno-Youngs.

  • Violent threats to election workers are common. But prosecutions to fight them are not, report Michael Wines and Eliza Fawcett.

— Blake

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