Clarke Forsythe on the History and Future of the Pro-Life Movement

Wesley J. Smith
Clark Forsythe
Audio File (94.18M)

When the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was a constitutional right in Roe v. Wade in 1973, it not only throttled an important ongoing democratic debate in the country about legalizing abortion, but it tore this country’s culture apart. In the next fifty years, dedicated pro-life activists committed themselves to democratic engagement and advocacy to reverse Roe and return the struggle over the right to life to the democratic sphere. That decades-long effort bore fruit last year in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs.

But that is far from the end of the story. The abortion issue continues to roil the country, with state legislatures passing dramatically different laws about the issue and voters in state initiative elections, such as in Kansas and Ohio, supporting legalization.  With the federal courts officially neutral on abortion, how will the Pro-Life Movement seek to achieve its stated goal of convincing the entire country that life should be protected and respected from conception to natural death?

Wesley’s guest on this episode of Humanize has some answers. Clarke Forsythe is Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life (AUL) and the author of Abuse of DiscretionThe Inside Story of Roe v. Wade (Encounter Books 2013), which was cited by the Supreme Court in its majority opinion in Dobbs.

In his 38 years at AUL, Forsythe has been co-counsel for parties in three U.S. Supreme Court cases and has argued before federal and state appellate courts. He has also testified before Congress and state legislatures. Forsythe has authored or co-authored 20+ professional legal articles on constitutional and bioethical issues.

His other articles have been published in the Wall Street JournalNewsweek, the Los Angeles TimesPublic DiscourseThe Washington TimesThe FederalistThe Hill, and many other newspapers and magazines. 

His first book, Politics for the Greatest Good, which draws on lessons in political prudence from Thomas Aquinas, William Wilberforce, and Abraham Lincoln, was published by InterVarsity Press (IVP) in 2009.  His new book, Pushing Roe v. Wade Over the Brink, co-authored with Alexandra DeSanctis, chronicles the 50-year legal struggle to overturn Roe v. Wade, and its implications for future bioethical issues in American law and policy.

Forsythe has a B.A. from Allegheny College, a J.D. from Valparaiso University, and an M.A. in Bioethics from Trinity International University, where he has been an Adjunct Professor of Bioethics.  Clarke and his wife, Karen, married for 41 years, have five daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Pushing Roe v. Wade Over the Brink: The Battle for America’s Heart, the Human Right to Life, and a Future Full of Hope

Abuse of Discretion – Encounter Books

Crucial Priorities for Advocates and Lawmakers After Dobbs – Americans United for Life (aul.org)

AUL’s 40 Year Stand Against Chemical Abortion – Americans United for Life

When Congress Funds Abortion, It Funds Coercion | National Review

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.
Roe v. Wade