Roe Opponent Has Prayers Answered

Tanya Britton has worked for decades to overturn 1973 abortion ruling
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2022 4:00 PM CDT
Roe Opponent Has Prayers Answered
Tanya Britton prays before lunch at her home in Tupelo, Miss.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

There is a prayer Tanya Britton has said in the hazy first moments of morning and in the stillness of the night. The words have morphed, but one way or another, they've been repeated, decade after decade. "Whatever I do, let it be for the end of abortion," 70-year-old Britton prays. "Let it be that one child be saved today. Let it be that Roe v. Wade be overturned." She hoisted signs outside clinics, cajoled lawmakers, and spread her anti-abortion gospel to anyone who’d listen, the AP reports, wondering if she'd live long enough to see her prayer come true and the 1973 case overturned. Until Friday came, and the US Supreme Court ruled. "This was my mission," she said through tears. "I'm one of millions of people in this country who have done a little bit. We've done our part. We've done what God called us to do."

Around the country, many mourned the decision, seeing it as one that robs a basic human right, inordinately affects poor people, and could lead to needless deaths of desperate women. But people like Britton, vested in a half-century movement, rejoiced. She got started in this work around 1990, praying the rosary outside a clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, and before long, it consumed whatever time was left over from working full time as a nurse and raising her son. She became the president of Pro-Life Mississippi, traveling the state to push anti-abortion laws and trying to win converts. Week after week, she returned to the streets outside clinics. Sometimes she’d quote scripture or quietly pray. Others, she'd block entrances and make a spectacle. She'd go out in the bitter cold and in the blazing sun, and when she returned home, she'd be so tired, she'd collapse in her hammock.

By her count, she's been arrested seven times. Britton tried anything to turn patients away, including wielding grotesque photos of aborted late-term remains and sweet-talking women to go for a coffee so she could try to change their mind. "I've used every tactic that we have in our arsenal," she says. It’s no accident this became her life's work. To Britton, women who have an abortion are murderers. She calls herself a murderer, too. She was a college student when she had an abortion at 19 in 1972, though she won't say much about her own experience or if it was illegal. She says she knew abortion was wrong but was overtaken by fear and selfishness, but she says she hasn't been driven by an attempt to atone. Britton considers herself forgiven. When the news broke Friday, she felt a paralyzing happiness. Her throat tightened. Tears welled. As it sank in that the moment she spent years praying for had arrived, her prayer was brief. "Thank you, Jesus!" she said.

(More Roe v. Wade stories.)

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