David J. Conrad
What is this Dobbs case? What is supposed to happen?
In May of 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case involves a law in Mississippi that bans most abortions after the baby reaches 15 weeks. Jackson Women’s Health, as the only abortion provider in the state of Mississippi, sued, saying that the law is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade. In response, Mississippi essentially asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade as bad law, and barring that, to at least allow states to limit pre-viability abortions.
While it is impossible to speculate what will happen, we hope that the Supreme Court will do the right thing and allow states to once again limit or prohibit abortion, and in doing so, protect millions of preborn children and their mothers from this tragedy.
If Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturns Roe v. Wade, doesn’t that mean women in the US will no longer be able to get abortions?
No. All that this decision could mean is that each state will decide which restrictions it will allow on abortion. In states such as California and Vermont, abortion will continue to be permitted at least up until 24 weeks (when evidence shows that preborn babies feel pain).
Isn’t having a ‘patchwork’ of different state laws on abortion dangerous?
States are supposed to have the freedom to make decisions and legislate for the “health, safety, and welfare” of citizens within their borders. Since our country’s inception, states have enacted differing laws on almost every issue imaginable. Yet as of right now, the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) prevent the American people, through their elected representatives, from fully protecting pre-born human life.
Fears about thousands of women dying from back-alley abortions should abortion laws return to the states have been proven to be unfounded, as the claims that thousands of women were dying from illegal abortions at the time of Roe were made up for political purposes. The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a chief advocate for legalizing abortion, said he and his fellow advocates invented the "nice, round shocking figure" of "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year" from illegal abortions. While any death is a tragedy, the number of deaths from “back alley” abortions do not approach these numbers. In 1966, before the first state legalized abortion, 120 mothers died from abortion. In 1972, when abortion was still illegal in 80 percent of the country, the number dropped to 39 maternal deaths from abortion.
Further, women seeking abortion are overwhelmingly not seeking abortion to protect their health from a “dangerous” pregnancy. In fact, women seeking abortions overwhelmingly report they are not doing so for “health” reasons: a 2013 survey shows only 6% cited any concern for their own health among the reasons for the abortion.
A groundbreaking 2012 study of abortion in Chile published in a peer- reviewed scientific journal found that Chile's abortion prohibition in 1989 did not cause an increase in the maternal mortality rate (MMR). On the contrary, after abortion was prohibited, the MMR decreased by 69.2% in the following fourteen years.
Isn’t overturning Roe just forcing religion on people?
When asked if abortion is a religious issue, the Supreme Court has said no. Moral concern about abortion reaches far beyond any one religion, and these laws have the legitimate secular purpose of encouraging childbirth over abortion. The fact that some religions oppose abortion doesn’t change this. “That the Judeo-Christian religions oppose stealing does not mean that a State or the Federal Government may not, consistent with the Establishment Clause, enact laws prohibiting larceny.”
Abortion advocates claim that, “however we may feel about abortion,” we should not impose our views on others. But they do not hold themselves to this standard. How we feel about abortion - or rather, what we recognize it to be –is the whole issue. If abortion is a wrongful attack on human life, as millions of American women and men believe, it is wrong to prevent states from legislating against this injustice.
Who will help the women who can’t get abortions?
The Church will never cease to do what it has always done - to pray, work, and serve until the day when every human life is protected in law, and welcomed in love. Until that day comes, and ever after, we will continue to care for women and children in need, so that every mother has the support to joyfully choose life.
Through the expansive social ministries of the Church, we do a lot to help mothers in need, but there are tremendous opportunities on the local and parish level to reach out to women who are pregnant and to provide them with the support to choose life. That is why the Church has started “Walking with Moms in Need,” a parish-based ministry where parishes “walk in the shoes” of pregnant and parenting women, so that they have the emotional and material support they need, so that no one gets left behind.
Pro-life Americans of all faiths have stepped forward to found thousands of pregnancy care centers, and could be counted on to provide even more help as needed. Pro-life activists have been helping these women over the last nearly half-century.