I’ve had a lot of conversations in the past week about America continuing, at warp speed, on a downward spiral. They tend to start with the sentient, engorged Cheeto seeking to take over the country and end with the War on Christmas. For the so-called leaders of the free world, we’re shamefully behind in many ways: renewable energy, median income growth, not murdering people, and oh, reproductive health care, of course! What a time to be alive.

Things are not looking good! But boy, am I hoping for a turnaround — because I love a comeback story almost as much as I love America’s greatest divas belting our impossible-for-mortals-to-sing national anthem. Our chasers for the week will feature the likes of Mariah, Christina, and Beyoncé doing exactly that, in times at which they had to overcome some kind of hardship.

Without further ado:

SHOT: The pregnancy rate and abortion rate in the U.S. are at the lowest points in 40 years. Thanks, birth control! In fact, the U.S. abortion rate has fallen by half since 1976 and is now on par with the rate of miscarriage. And just in case there’s any doubt as to whether we still need to be fighting for better abortion access, a new study indicates that women who are denied abortions have a less positive outlook on life. You don’t say!

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CHASER: Between 9/11 and her infamously bizarre breakdown on TRL, 2001 was a bad year for Mariah Carey. But boy, did she make up for it at the 2002 Super Bowl:

SHOT: The Satanic Temple has truly been fighting the good fight for abortion access. Most recently, Jex Blackmore, spokeswoman for the Temple, joined the forces of women discussing their abortion experiences publicly to shed any stigma around the procedure.

CHASER: Beyoncé caught a lot of flak for lip-syncing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Obama’s 2013 inauguration. At a press conference for the Super Bowl a few weeks later, for which she was the halftime show performer, she delivered one of the ultimate “take a seat” moments of all time by singing the entire thing flawlessly — a capella, natch:

SHOT: A D.C. charter school has had it with protesters picketing a future Planned Parenthood site across the street from it, and recently filed a lawsuit to get them to shut up. From The Washington Post: “[T]he protesters have engaged in “extreme and outrageous conduct” during the past several months, targeting schoolchildren as young as 3 with gruesome images of aborted fetuses and messages about the “murder facility” going in next to their school.” Yep, sounds pretty extreme and outrageous!

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CHASER: In 2008, Jennifer Hudson found herself dealing with an unimaginable tragedy: Her mother, brother, and nephew were brutally murdered by her brother-in-law. Just a few months later, she delivered a gorgeous, emotive rendition of the national anthem at the Super Bowl:

SHOT: In Columbus, Ohio, a new state-funded program is providing free LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives, like IUDs and hormonal implants) to low-income women who want to prevent unplanned pregnancies. (Sound familiar? You may have heard of a similar program that worked really, really well in Colorado.)

CHASER: Christina Aguilera sang so goddamn hard at the tragic Super Bowl XLV that she sort of forgot the words. But you know what? It was still the best rendition I’ve ever heard.

SHOT: And just in case there was any question as to whether the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter was a terrorist, this will leave no doubt: He’s declared himself to be “a warrior for the babies.” Psst — they don’t want you, bro.

CHASER: Most people, however, would disagree that Christina gave us the best “Star-Spangled Banner” we ever heard — in favor, of course, of Whitney Houston in a tracksuit. “In honor of America,” indeed!

And if all this doesn’t make you feel patriotic as hell, maybe the fate of this country actually is a lost cause. On that note, here’s some weekend reading: A set of interviews with the women who protect and escort clients of abortion clinics from rabid anti-choice activists.