WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 decision June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its nearly 50-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in this country. The court’s 213-page ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization was not totally unexpected due to the leak of an opinion draft a month earlier.
The ruling emphasizes that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The Dobbs case focused on an abortion clinic in Mississippi opposed to the state’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s reversal of its long-standing abortion ruling brings abortion policy decisions to the state level. At least half of states plan to ban or restrict abortions with this decision in place.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. Casey v. Planned Parenthood is the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe. Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice John Roberts, in a separate opinion, said he agreed with the majority that the Mississippi abortion restriction should be upheld, but he said the court should not have overturned its Roe decision.
In a statement released on June 24, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said he is very pleased that the Supreme Court has now effectively overturned Roe v. Wade that for decades has directed abortion legislation in this country.
“The decision is proper for both moral and legal reasons. In recognizing this decision, however, it is abundantly clear that the work on behalf of human life is not over; it has now just moved to a new arena and has assumed new urgency,” Bishop Tobin said.
A truly pro-life celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade would lead to cooperative efforts to pass legislation protecting life, women’s rights and motherhood, said an editorial in Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. Those efforts should include finding ways to protect maternal health and lower the maternal death rate, assist poor women, provide or expand paid family leave and control access to guns in the country, said the piece written by Andrea Tornielli, editorial director at the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.
The Vatican published the editorial June 25, the day after the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the United States, giving individual states the power to legislate abortion. The court ruling, Tornielli wrote, “could provide an opportunity to reflect on life, the protection of the defenseless and the discarded, women’s rights and the protection of motherhood.” Throughout his pontificate, the editorial said, Pope Francis has advocated for the protection of all human life, including the life of unborn children, “the most defenseless and innocent among us.”
In light of the local needs of women and their children, Bishop Tobin has directed diocesan staff to increase the support offered to women and children through existing diocesan programs, and to be alert to other and new ways of providing assistance to women, children and families.
“While rightly insisting that abortion is evil, the Catholic Church also recognizes the particular needs that many women encounter when they are pregnant. For several years already, the Diocese of Providence has responded to this need with important programs such as St. Gabriel’s Call that provides personal and material assistance to pregnant women, new moms, and their infant children; and also the Cabrini Fund that offers financial scholarships to assist parents with child care expenses. These programs have supported women and children, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, for many years,” he said.
The Catholic Church’s efforts to assist women facing difficult or unplanned pregnancies include supporting Catholic health care, pro-life pregnancy centers and services offered by Catholic Charities across the U.S., along with a new initiative called “Walking with Moms in Need,” which aims to engage every Catholic parish “in providing a safety net to ensure that pregnant and parenting moms have the resources, love and support they need to nurture the lives of their children.”
Rhode Island Catholic contributed to this article.
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