By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The pro-life rally on the sidewalk outside the U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 1 found much to cheer about as the nine justices inside heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

They cheered when rally emcee Alison Centofante of Live Action announced she was 21 weeks pregnant.

They let out a louder whoop at when Abby Johnson was introduced. She is the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became a pro-life activist and is the subject of the film “Unplanned,” based on her book.

And by the time the mostly youthful crowd reached a few thousand in number and stretched down First Street, it let out a roar for Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who had been observing the court arguments.

If the justices uphold the Mississippi law, which bans nearly all abortions at 15 weeks, their ruling could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion — which would then return the issue of abortion to the states.

“Today is our day,” said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House Republican whip. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

“What an amazing day, right?” Fitch said. “Over the past 50 years, our world has changed. It’s time that our laws caught up.”

She said that if the court’s decision, not expected until July, does return all abortion laws to the states, “We are ready, willing and able to do the job.”

Mississippi state Sen. Jennifer Branning, a Republican, called the court hearing “a great example of what can happen when private citizens stand with elected officials to protect this most basic right (to life).”

“Abortion dehumanizes everyone it touches,” said Johnson. “It hurts women, men, families and of course our most innocent, the preborn. Abortion also hurts those who work in the abortion industry.

“None of this is about women’s rights,” she added. “This is about the right to harm every woman and child who walks through their doors. In 1973, we didn’t know. But we know better now. When you know better, you do better.”

“Someday future generations of Americans will look back on us and wonder how and why such a rich and seemingly enlightened society, professing to being devoted to human rights, so blessed and endowed with the capacity to protect the weakest and most vulnerable, could have instead so aggressively promoted death to children and the exploitation of women by abortion,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

“Much to the dismay of abortion activists, pro-life Americans have not become desensitized to abortion. In fact, just the opposite has occurred,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “The march grows every year and I can’t think of a more tangible or hopeful sign that (previous Supreme Court abortion rulings) are not settled law.

“We are all united here today by our common understanding that every life from the moment of conception is precious and deserves legal protection.”

“Abortion is the sharpest soul-searching question before us as a nation,” said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. Should the court decide in favor of the Mississippi law, she thought it could be “an opportunity to bring healing. An opportunity to bring hope,” she said.

The rally began at 9 a.m. and stretched past noon.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, referenced Anthony in her remarks.

She quoted from Anthony’s 19th century newspaper “The Revolution” about abortion: “The act will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in the grave. But thrice guilty is the one who drove her to the dreadful deed.”

Dannenfelser concluded, “Half a century of abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade, 63 million missing children and countless wounded mothers, and the brokenness and suffering that radiates through our whole culture has only proven her point.”

“Today the court did a great job articulating its constitutional role: not to pick winners and losers on divisive issues like abortion, but to remain ‘scrupulously neutral,’ as Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh said,” Carrie Severino, president of Judicial Crisis Network, said in a Twitter thread.

“The way it works out will look different in different states, but the court should let the people decide.”

Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiologist and a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, took issue with some comments made during the oral arguments by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor about the viability of a fetus.

Also, Sotomayor said only “fringe” doctors believe in the existence of fetal pain as a reason to restrict abortion.

“Contrary to the arguments of Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, incredible advances in science and fetal medicine have rendered viability a totally incoherent legal standard

“Justice Sotomayor’s assertions … were wholly ignorant of the tremendous scientific advances in fetal medicine,” Christie said in her statement. “As recently as last year, doctors in the Journal of Medical Ethics wrote, ‘Current neuroscientific evidence supports the possibility of fetal pain before the ‘consensus’ cutoff of 24 weeks’ and may be as early as 12 weeks.”

As for the viability issue, “contrary to the arguments of Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, incredible advances in science and fetal medicine have rendered viability a totally incoherent legal standard,” she said. “Just last week, the world heard news that a baby born at 21 weeks and survived set a new record for premature survival.”