What would happen if Roe vs. Wade were overturned?

A 2017 file photo shows the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in an official group portrait. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Following news of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impending retirement, the nation’s highest court is in for a tumultuous few months. Justice Kennedy, a Catholic, was the court’s perennial swing vote on a number of high-profile rulings, from legalizing same-sex marriage to abortion law. Depending on President Trump’s next appointment, his departure will likely lead to a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

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Justice Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, a pro-life Republican, but he cast the deciding vote in a 1992 case that upheld Roe v. Wade.

President Trump recently told Fox News that he would “probably not” ask his potential SCOTUS nominees about their votes on Roe, he acknowledged his own plans to “[put] conservative people on [the court],” and said he would leave regulating abortion to the states.

Will Roe v. Wade be overturned?

Richard Doerflinger, former associate director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and current fellow at the University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, believes that it is unlikely that Roe would be overturned all at once.

Even if Roe were overturned, Mr. Doerflinger says, the decision by itself would not lead to any restrictions on abortion but would allow for more debate on the issue.

“It would free both sides in this debate to argue their case and try to reach at least a majority consensus on what is just and what the society will bear,” Mr. Doerflinger says.

“The result would likely be different in different states and different in the same state from one year to another, as with most issues in our democracy,” he says. “But the pro-life viewpoint would not be excluded in principle from that debate, blocked in advance by what the court calls a constitutional right.”  

But coming back from a “bad” court decision takes time and requires a well-reasoned, step-by-step process, according to Mr. Doerflinger. For example, Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled that segregation was constitutional according to the principle of separate but equal, was only overturned in 1954 with the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Mr. Doerflinger calls this “the most time-honored path.” Through this lens, it could be argued that the process toward the reversal of Roe has already begun.

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that upheld the right to an abortion, he points out that not many people noticed how the majority of Supreme Court Justices stopped naming the unborn with the biologically incoherent phrase “potential life” but referred to to state’s interest in “protecting the life of the unborn.”

“Even the Casey court said that if Roe was wrong, its error lay not in its regard for women’s rights, but in its relative disregard for the status of the child. Let’s set the justices free to begin exploring that insight,” Mr. Doerflinger says.

On the Supreme Court’s empty seat and Mr. Trump’s impending nomination to fill it, Mr. Doerflinger says, the president will most likely choose someone who is “widely respected as a careful legal thinker” rather than someone with an obvious pro-life or pro-choice stance.

Could a new court result in more restrictions on abortion?

Regardless of Mr. Trump and the court’s future actions on Roe v. Wade, some analysts are expecting far-reaching restrictions on abortion.  

Current laws in some states require abortion clinics to follow the same safety regulations required of ambulatory surgical centers. At present, some abortion practitioners need to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in order to be involved with addressing potential complications with patients.

Mr. Doerflinger says that aside from meaningful safety regulations, restrictions on abortion might include effective “informed consent” requirements. A medical professional may be required to discuss the humanity of the unborn with women seeking abortions or ask to them to review the possible physical or psychological aftermath of abortion. Germany, for example, requires that pregnant women attend a counseling session on alternatives to abortion before the first trimester.

Mr. Doerflinger also suggests that the court might allow a legislative ban on elective abortions in the last months of pregnancy (already approved by some states and the House of Representatives as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) and leeway for government funding to promote natural births over abortions.

The government could also forbid the mailing of abortifacients and other abortion-inducing drugs, which are currently legal, as they once did with the Comstock Laws of 1873 and 1909, which criminalized the mailing of drugs and contraceptives. These federal acts, Mr. Doerflinger says, were supported by pro-life outreach groups for many years.

Mr. Doerflinger adds that the pro-life cause is broader than seeking legal restrictions on abortion, however. “Simply changing the law has never been enough by itself—and if one does not win the battle for public opinion, who would pass the laws or vote for those willing to do so, in any case?

“Caring for the needs of pregnant women, educating and motivating others and passing good laws are and always have been equally essential, as certainly the Catholic bishops’ pastoral plan has declared since 1975,” he says.

Correction, July 5: The year of Plessy v. Ferguson was 1896, not 1986. Also that ruling did not legalize segregation per se, but upheld the principle of separate but equal.

Correction, July 27: The article has been updated to clarify Mr. Doerflinger’s opinion about how Roe v. Wade may be overruled.

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J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Good article. Not likely to happen soon. But a lot Would go back to individual state law if it does.

Luis Gutierrez
1 month 1 week ago

What would happen if Roe vs. Wade were overturned? Not sure, but surely canon 1024 must be overturned. Canon 1024 ~ "A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly." This canon is an artificial contraceptive and abortifacient of female priestly vocations. It makes me want to vomit.

Gerald McGrane
1 month 1 week ago

Are you saying Jesus got it wrong? Is St. John Paul II in his explanations of the sacramental meaning of males and females and how that also relates to male priesthood is wrong?

Mary Kambic
1 month 1 week ago

Excellent analysis of the issue of Roe v Wade. For prolife progressives, this issue is quickly overtaking the important crisis of the immigrant children being separated from their parents. I did notice that last weekend, at the rallies against the Trump policy on immigrants, Planned Parenthood support signs appeared in the crowd. Considering that the Women's March coordinated some of the events, this abortion issue could co-opt others' concern for the children being separated from parents, which many oppose, regardless of their stand on abortion rights. Those of us who support social justice and are opposed to abortion will need to be on watch now so we are not silenced, as happened at the first Women's March. This offended me as so many Central Americans are Catholic.

Patrick Byrne
1 month 1 week ago

There are a few factual inaccuracies in this article. The legal issues underlying abortion, as well as the potential pathway to overturning Roe, are much more complex than the article recognizes. I put a summary in my comment below.

Sorry to hear that people may have tried to silence you at the Women's March. I think we disagree on the abortion issue, but I support your right to have and express your own opinion!

Be well!
-Pat

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

I marched in the first women's march in Boston and no women were kept from marching or holding whatever sign they chose and there were religious women out there too. Pro-lifers seem to feel victimized if they are not given a special platform but your cause is not owed that. Everyone with a cause needs to stand up for it on their own and argue its merits. Considering that abortion rates and maternal death rates are higher in countries where abortion is prohibited, you will have a harder time supporting your cause based on it's merits more and more.

JAMES NAZZAL
1 month 1 week ago

Overturn or not, it really doesn't matter - Scotus or the states each have their ways... Bottom line for me is the use of "Pro Life". This has nothing to do with "Pro Life" - it's really soley about "Pro Birth" . The baby MUST be born...then it's on its' own. Child care? Nope. Education? Nope. Health Care? Nope. Living wage? Nope. Just be born, then kiddo, your on your own. Great Catholic theology!

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Yes and that is why you will see an immediate increase in abortions in America if they overturn Roe. Every other Country in the world that restricts abortion rights has higher abortion rates. This has been true for decades. They also have higher maternal death rates in these countries.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 1 week ago

Nora
You been incessantly making the claim that there is "a cause and effect relationship" between restricting abortions and a subsequent increase in the Abortion Rate. That alleged "cause and effect relationship" is an artifice of your own and is not supported by the abortion statistics you will undoubtedly begin to recite.

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

Stuart you may feel free to look them up on line at both the sites for World Health Organization and Guttmacher. Whether you wish to make the connection or not, the W.H.O and Guttmacher have done so. There is no reliable contradictory source indicating what I have shared is false in any way. The statistics speak for themselves (and that is all that I have claimed). So you can choose to believe abortion rates are higher having nothing to do with the fact that ALL of the countries where the abortion rates are highest also have the strictest abortion rules or have criminalized abortion but I am not willing to believe that is a mere global coincidence, and neither is any secular reliable health organization. If you have reliable contradictory statistics that give evidence higher rates of abortion occur where laws are less strict, please feel free to offer that information and its source.

The one exception to the rule appears to be Sweden which has a high rate despite fairly easy access to abortion. However, that does not mean that if Sweden were to make access more difficult that it would not still increase the abortion rate in this country even more.

Pat Henning
1 month 1 week ago

Wait! “Ronald Reagan, a pro life Republican”? No way! Sure, he and his party gave that image.

As a retired staffer at the California Assembly and Senate, let me assure you that when the Legislature passed the most liberal abortion legislation in the U.S., Regan did not lift a finger against it (e.g., sendinding the bill back for further edits, or a veto) and SIGNED IT INTO LAW.

Frank Bergen
1 month 1 week ago

" Depending on President Trump’s next appointment, his departure will likely lead to a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court." I would opine that the court has had a solid conservative majority with Justice Kennedy. He is himself solidly conservative, just not socially conservative. I think he comes close to being a true libertarian who has voted pretty consistently for the rights of the person, whether human or corporate. I'd like to see a justice who would argue for not taking or deciding cases that are not yet ripe for decision. Such was, i believe, Roe v Wade in 1973.

Patrick Byrne
1 month 1 week ago

There are two factual inaccuracies that Mr. Doerflinger seems to have communicated, or perhaps he did not communicate them and they were misunderstood. I hope that the editors will address them.

The first is that the majority in the Roe v Wade opinion did not name abortion as a constitutional right. The majority qualified the right to abortion, invoked by Ms. Roe, as "fundamental" and therefore entitled to protection from the Texas statutes in question under the due process clause. This is not my opinion, it is a fact. It is the same due process clause that was used to incorporate the second amendment and apply it to the states. Whether or not a person thinks that the precedents of the Court were applied correctly is another matter, though notably the "history and tradition" rationale that was used in the Second Amendment case derived from yet another due process case, which itself came well after both Roe and Casey. Judges do not deem rights as constitutional: they deem laws as unconstitutional when they think it appropriate.

The second is that Roe cannot be overturned until Casey gets overturned first. Mr. Doerflinger correctly points out that their recognition of the state's interest in the life of the unborn caused them to turn away from their usual levels of scrutiny and invent a new framework altogether: the undue burden test. So if Roe is to be overturned, then the courts will first have to address the undue burdens test, and ONLY THEN will they be able to decide whether or not the invoked right to abortion is entitled to protection under the due process clause. In so doing, the Court will have to confront its entire body of due process jurisprudence: not a task that I envy.

Who is to recognize unenumerated rights, if not the courts? "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Do not take my word for it, just ask Justice Roberts (then Judge Roberts). The pertinent dialogue starts at 17:24.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?188507-1/roberts-confirmation-hearing-day…

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 1 week ago

Patrick
Like your analysis and think it is a correct delineation of the legal aspects of "abortion rights" mess.
As to "other un-enumerated rights " ...are those defined by the State Courts by way of the 10th Amendment?
And if they are to be defined by State Courts then I suppose they are still reviewable in Federal Court under the Due Process Clause..
Suppose a State Court determines based on scientific evidence that the fetus/child is "a person" and thereby triggers the conflict between the "Choice rights of the Mother" and "the right to life of the child" .....then what happens at the Federal review level?

Patrick Byrne
1 month 1 week ago

Stuart,

The whole unenumerated rights thing is pretty hairy. I'm not really familiar with any specific examples from state constitutions and state courts. The general way that they have been recognized at the federal level is: 1) state makes law; 2) person breaks law, or attempts to break law and the state prevents them from doing so; 3) person sues in federal court, asserting that their actions were protected under the due process clause. Some of the ones they have determined to be "fundamental" are privacy, self-defense, the right to have and raise children as you see fit, the right to marry. There are others, check out this wikipedia page for a good summary of the history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substantive_due_process

As for your fetus/person question, this has already happened... sort of. In Louisiana, there is a statute that defines an embryo as a person entitled to full juristic rights. Sofia Vergara, of "Modern Family" fame, and her then-boyfriend had made embryos together in vitro and froze them in the state of California. Sofia wanted to discard them after they broke up, and the ex-boyfriend sued her in the state of Louisiana. The judge in Lousiana threw the case out because the ex-boyfriend did not have standing (the two did not have any significant ties to the state), so they never reached the "is an embryo a person" question. It is hard to find a non-skewed telling of the facts because the subject matter it is so polarizing, here is a link to the judge's decision if you are interested:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/1184999/court-decision-in-ve…

Who knows what will happen. IVF has a very uncertain future, the feds don't want to touch the issue with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. Once they decide to legislate on it then any federal law should preempt the state laws, but even that is not a certainty.

Be well!
-Pat

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 1 week ago

Pat
At some point Due Process for every action nullifies the 10th Amendment which I recollect was put last as "a coda" to what many of the Founders believed necessary to create wall to further intrusion by a central government on the States which created it. At some point the repetitive use of Due Process clause will put this issue squarely before the Court. The recognition of "personhood" would seem to be the ultimate right of a State.

Patrick Byrne
1 month 1 week ago

Yea it certainly seems like they might reach the issue sooner or later. The thing is, once the unborn get full juristic rights then they are persons just like you and me, legally speaking. It would therefore seem odd for a state to classify the unborn as persons and then decide to label abortion as anything other than homicide (by the person performing it) in the form of a contract killing (by the person requesting it). Each hypothetical crime would carry a sentence of 10 years to life, or execution in some cases.

So many unknowns and hypotheticals. I plan on waiting until the President makes his pick before engaging in too much speculation.

Nice chatting with you. Be well!
-Pat

Patrick Byrne
1 month 1 week ago

PS It is not the right to choice, per se. The way that the decisions have evolved since Roe (Casey in the early 90s on up to Hellerstedt a few years ago), the right is now recognized as one of bodily autonomy: this is why so-called "partial birth" abortions are illegal. The state cannot regulate it until the fetus is "viable". This makes a lot of sense when you think about it: the state could not save the life of the unborn even if they wanted to before the point of viability (when the unborn is capable of prolonged life outside the body of the mother, about 20-23 weeks of gestation depending which doctor you ask). After that the state has a say if it wants, but not before.

Tim Donovan
1 month 1 week ago

As a long-time registered Democrat from age 18 in 1980 until about. 2011, I then became a registered.Independent in 2013 because neither party fully represented my views. In about 2013 I reluctantly registered as a Republican, although I very frequently disagree with typical Republican party policies. I oppose capital punishment, favor stringent gun control laws, and favor reasonable laws and regulations to protect our environment. I favor war only after all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted. Civilians must never be.deliberately targeted, and I believe the use of nuclear weapons would be horribly immoral. I favor reasonable government assistance to the millions of Americans in need. Among many others, these include people who are disabled (I 'm a retired Special Education teacher who worked with children with brain damage, physical disabilities, and/or behavior disorders), the homeless, senior citizens, the mentally ill, veterans, the seriously ill, people addicted to drugs (either illegal or legal), victims of human trafficking (forced prostitution or forced labor), abused children, and battered women of men. I don't want to be sexist or engage in stereotyping, but I believe women are likely to be battered than men. I support immigration reform and oppose the separation of children from their parents. When I worked in a group home with disabled men, several of my co-workers were immigrants from Liberia. They had fled from a brutal civil war seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Although unpopular, I support providing a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants. First, because many are fleeing from violence or extreme poverty in their native countries. Second, many immigrants are gainfully employed at difficult jobs that many native born Americans are averse to performing (such as agricultural work). Also, I know several Muslims, and have read a good book called "A Brief History of Islam ." With the exception of a small minority of Muslim terrorists ( including the Islamic State/ISIS which fortunately is deteriorating in numbers and influence and Boko Haram, a Muslim terrorist group primarily active in African nations) I believe most Muslims are good, peaceful people, so I oppose the wholesale denial of admitting people from Muslim-majority nations into our country. However, I do believe that maximum legal protection should be restored to the unborn. The 1973 U. S. Supreme Court decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton legalized the violence of abortion for any reason up until the time the unborn infant (or fetus, which is latin for "young one" ) is viable. As noted in a recent article in the Washington Post, according to the respected Gallup poll, as has been largely true for years, only about 25-30% of Americans favor legal abortion for any reason, about 20% oppose all legal abortions, and about 50-55% favor legal abortion only under "some circumstances." It was stated in the Post article, but Gallup has found that if this group of Americans polled, among this group legal abortion is opposed for most reasons. While I don't believe legal rights necessarily are based on majority opinion ( at one point in our nation's history-in the early and even mid-19th century, the majority of Americans either supported or were indifferent to legal slavery) the respected Gallup poll demonstrates that a significant majority of American women and men oppose our present laws that favor legal abortion for any reason. Also, polls,indicate that many people of different faiths oppose legal abortion-on-demand. In addition to the anti-abortion views of many Catholics, surveys demonstrate that the majority of evangelical Christians, as well as members of the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, Orthodox Christians, members,of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims oppose legal abortion under most circumstances. Also, many mainline Protestants favor significant legal restrictions on abortion. I have always supported a constitutional amendment to restore legal protection from fertilization to natural death, except under the rate circumstances needed to prevent the death of the pregnant woman. However, as has been pointed out by the former representative of the Catholic Bishops Pro-life Committee (by the way, I assume he was quoted because America is a Catholic publication, but I think given that the pro-life movement in my experience has supporters of many different faiths, that a pro-life supporter of another faith should have been quoted) overturning Roe and Doe will return abortion regulations to the states, where our elected representatives will make the laws. This will, unfortunately in my view, mean the legal killing of the innocent unborn will continue in many circumstances in many states. However, it's likely that state laws which prohibit tax-funded abortions under most circumstances, bans on particularly brutal, inhumane late term abortions, parental consent for minor girls (with the possibility of a judicial bypass) and informed consent (providing women with information about adoption, child support laws, and the option to view their ultrasound, and the possible effects of both abortion and childbirth) will be maintained or passed. Roe v. Wade has been criticized by many legal scholars, even those who favor legal abortion, as being poorly reasoned. Professor Mary Ann Glendon, in an excellent book which I read, "Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse," which examined many different issues, noted that Professor Laurence Tribe, who supports legal abortion, felt that Roe was poorly reasoned and went considerably beyond a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution in its implications . Justice Ruth Bader Gingsburg, some years ago, stated that she believed Roe was too broad in legalizing abortion. In another excellent book that I read, "Rights of Life: The Scientific Evidence of Life Before Birth," obstetrician /gynecologist Landrum Shettles, M.D. (who incidentally isn't a Catholic and supports legal contraception that isn't abortive in nature) makes a compelling case that abortion kills a human being based on the science of biology. As he puts it, Roe came about based on "sociology, not biology." He notes that his friend, the late Alan Guttmacher, M. D. , who was a former President of Planned Parenthood, acknowledged that a new human being came into existence at fertilization. He did eventually reverse his position, but as Dr. Shettles noted, it was most likely based on cultural considerations. Shettles also notes that an editorial in the California Journal of Medicine in 1970, while favoring the legalization of abortion acknowledged that abortion killed a human being, but that it was "necessary" to present the so-called abortion rights arguments in socially acceptable terms. In 1963, in a pamphlet titled "Plan Your Family for Health and Happiness," Planned Parenthood stated, " An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. " Yet less than a decade later, Planned Parenthood, which now performs over 330,000 of the almost 1 million abortions performed annually in our nation, reversed it's position. I hardly think that this reversal was due to any new biological information. In fact, the physician who "created" the first "test tube/in vitro fertilization" baby, Dr. Steptoe, was quoted as saying words to the effect in 1 978 (which I believe-please correct me, the date may be off by a year) that "I saw her" when she was a few cells, and I saw her when she was born, and "she (meaning Louise Brown, the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization) was "beautiful" then, and she's beautiful now. Faye Wattleton, the president of Planned Parenthood from 1987-1992, admitted in an interview with Ms. Magazine (May/June 1997), " I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not me is a sign of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus. " Author Naomi Wolf, also a supporter of legal abortion, said in The New Republic (October 16, 1995), "Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a language of self-delusions, fibs, and evasions...We need to contextualize the right to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death." Philosopher Peter Singer, another legal abortion advocate, in his book " Practical Ethics, " (1993), states, "...,there is no doubt that the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being." Many more confirmations that fertilization is the beginning of a new human being could be provided. One more hopefully will suffice. Keith L. Moore, in his 2 008 book "Before We Were Born: Essentials of Embryology," noted that " (the zygote), formed by the union of an occyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being. " Another excellent book that I read was "Aborting America," ( 1979), which at the time was praised by America. Written by Bernard Nathanson, M. D., he was an atheist of Jewish heritage, a gynecologist who was a co-founder of what's now known as NARAL Pro-choice America, and for about 18 months in the early 1970's was the medical director of what at the time in New York City was the largest abortion facility in the Western world. He personally performed about 5,000 abortions, and in his words "presided over" 75,000 abortions. He presented both arguments for and against legal abortions, though even as an atheist he acknowledged based on biological evidence that the unborn were human beings at the early stages of life (he used the euphemism "alpha" to return to an unborn human/embryo/fetus). At that time he still favo red legal abortion under most circumstances, although he did favor significant legal restrictions. Dr. Nathanson over a period of many years became an agnostic, a believer in a Supreme Being, and finally converted to the Catholic faith. But I think it's significant that Nathanson concluded that abortion was the deliberate killing of a human being while he was still an atheist, based on biological evidence. I heard a compelling speech by Dr.. Nathanson years ago at the University of Delaware in which he provided convincing arguments against legal abortion (frankly, I don't know if he had converted to the Catholic faith at that point). In "Aborting America," Dr. Nathaniel admitted that the number of deaths that he and NARAL claimed resulted from women dying from illegal abortions was " greatly exaggerated. " He said he assumed that most of his "abortion rights" colleagues also knew the numbers were false, but that they justified the fabrication because they knew the exaggerated numbers would impress lawmakers. Of course, the death of a pregnant woman from an illegal abortion is tragic. But I'd like to make several points. First, many many thousands of Americans die every year from drug overdoses (whether from illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or other drugs or from legal drug overdoses from prescriptions of opoids for pain). Yet I hardly think that we should legalize such drugs. With opoids, the medical community must train doctors to not overprescribe opoids for pain, and perhaps the government could enact legal penalties such as large fines for doctors who deliberately overprescribe drugs. Also, according to Time (November 6, 2017) firearm-related deaths rose in 2016 "largely due to spikes in gun violence in major cities like Chicago" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016,_there were more than38,000 gun-related deaths-- 4,000 more than in 2015. About two-thirds of gun violence deaths are suicides. Again, although I support stringent gun control laws to hopefully help save some human lives, it seems clear that despite laws, people will always to one extent of another murder other people with guns (or by other means). Personally, I feel strongly about gun violence, as I strongly oppose the violence of legal abortion. When my Dad died in 1994, I discovered a handgun in his bank safety deposit box (I presume it belonged to my late Uncle--my Dad, although a Navy veteran, basically abhorred guns as he also opposed legal abortion). I immediately turned the gun into my local police department. Perhaps community gun but back programs with payment for each gun turned into the police would be helpful.
I do have sympathy for women who experience unplanned or difficult pregnancies, as well as women who've had abortions. When I was 19, my 19 year old best friend who was in college found out that his 17 year old girlfriend who was a senior in high school was pregnant. Despite being unmarried and fairly young, as well as still both pursuing their educations, they chose life for their unborn baby (my friend's girlfriend gave birth to a son ) one month after she graduated at 18 from high school ) and they got married nine months later. They were able to complete their educations with hard work and the assistance of their families, friends and (without being immodest), me. I was among a number of people who enjoyed frequently caring for their son, as well as buying him clothing and some toys. My one friendless a,civil engineer, and his wife (who became a close friend) became a pharmacist. Also, my sister's friend became an unmarried mother late in her teenage years after she'd completed high school. Again, it was difficult, but with the support of her family, friends and to a modest extent me (who got clothes for her baby daughter from a crisis pregnancy center) she was happy and in time met a good man (not the father of her baby) who she married. I also know several women who have had abortions. Sadly, one young woman, who was the girlfriend of a friend of mine (who wasn't the father of the developing baby) apparently accepted her violent choice. Another woman, who spoke before my parish pro-life group, had an abortion, regretted her decision, and on occasion spoke about the regret she felt from aborting her unborn baby to other pro-life groups. Finally, the friend who I mentioned who became pregnant in high school and chose life for her baby had an older sister who had an abortion because of an unplanned pregnancy. Although I firmly disagreed with her decision, I didn't (and don't) harbor feelings of "hatred" towards her. In fact, she was very fond of her nephew, and we both enjoyed caring for him. Some years later, she did have a daughter, and raised her as a loving single mother. Although I never discussed her abortion with her, I believe she may have in time regretted her choice. I also know a physician who along with his wife may well be the finest, most Christ-like people that I know (we've lost touch over the years). The doctor founded the first alternative -to-abortion agency in our suburban Philadelphia county in the early 1980's. He and his wife sheltered homeless pregnant women (of different races-they happened to be white) in their home for some time. When neighbors would enquire who their "housemates"_of different races were, he would joke that the women were di stant relatives. The doctor also persuaded a county Catholic hospital administered by the Sisters of Mercy some years later ( for a period of time) to provide low cost childbirth to low -income pregnant woman served by the alternative -to abortion agency that he administered. Years later, he became a member of the Board of Directors of "The Mother's Home," a shelter for pregnant women and their born children which provided other compassionate services as well. The home was a former convent, which the parish pastor donated to our county pro-life coalition for the sum of $ 1.00. An anonymous pro-life individual contributed $100,000 to help establish the home. For years I have occasionally contributed modest sums to the home. The doctor's wife not only was a loving mother and spouse, but as a young woman became pregnant after being a victim of rape. She made the courageous decision to give life to her baby and release him for adoption. Finally, this loving couple of devout Catholics adopted an infant who was severely disabled, and I believe was terminally ill as he died not too long after being lovingly cared for by his parents. A cousin of mine many years ago also made a brave loving decision. She was informed a number of months into her pregnancy that her unborn baby had a terminal condition known as anecephaly, in which most of the developing baby's brain is missing. She was informed that she could have an abortion, but despite the heartache involved with carrying an infant who was destined to die not long after birth, she chose life, and her baby did not live long after birth. I don't bring up these people's excruciatingly difficult circumstances to make anyone depressed, but I do think these people not only followed authentic Church teaching, but showed the true spirit of Jesus in being willing to sacrifice comfort in order to be like our Savior who suffered and died for us.
Please forgive my incredibly, undoubtedly ridiculously lengthy remarks. I'll simply end by saying that besides from passing laws to provide maximum legal protection to human beings from fertilization to natural death(which may well be possible in as many states as possible if a justice is appointed who may join a majority to overturn the unreasonably decided Roe and Doe decisions), I believe that those of us who are pro-life regardless of our political party, rrkigion, or lack thereof must support financially and in practical ways of possible the hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers nationwide which provide practical, compassionate care to pregnant women and their bavies. There are a small number of opponents of legal abortion who aren't believers. For instance, the late journalist and writer for the liberal Village Voice, Nat Hentoff. Handoff described himself as a "Jewish atheist" and was strongly in favor of both free speech and civil rights, as he was a former Board Member of the New York State chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He once wrote an excellent column in the Philadelphia Inquired (I'm sorry I don't recall the date, but it could undoubtedly be found fairly easily online). It was titled, "An atheist--and an anti-abortionist, too." Two crisis pregnancy centers which I support with modest contributions when I 'm able are the "Mother's Home" ( the shelter for homeless pregnant women and their babies in my county in suburban Philadelphia that also provides other services and "Mom's House." This is a network of about six homes which provide free quality day care for low-income pregnant women so that they can complete their education . I believe that in addition to reforming our laws and supporting crisis pregnancy centers that those of us who are pro-life must also speak out when possible in a reasonable manner and present well-designed arguments to defend the right to life of the unborn, severely disabled infants who may be threatened with infanticide (philosopher Peter Singer is one proponent of legal infanticide for disabled infants as he doesn't consider them to be "persons". Also, there is a movement to expand physician-assisted suicide in an even greater number of states. Although I'm pro-life, it's difficult for me to admit that because of severe depression many years ago I attempted suicide. Why? Because although I grew up in a loving family and had some good friends, I was fairly frequently taunted with a painful, vile term because some people correctly assumed that I was gay (although I didn't reveal my orientation until I was about 35 (I'm now 56). Although I 'be been faithful to the Church's teaching regarding celibacy/refraining from sex when single for most of my life, many years ago for several years I felt so lonely and alienated that I had sex with men. However, I did realize my error and found forgiveness and consolation from a compassionate priest through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I have found peace with being gay and celibate, although it at times is hard, and I sometimes have a problem with viewing pornography. However, I do my best to read good books and other moral material, and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation each month. I also am fortunate that I have the love and support of family and friends. I think that physician -,assisted suicide, although certainly a difficult matter (and I do regret my suicide attempt, not only because I have found renewed meaning in life but because I caused tremendous emotional pain to my family, friends and some of my co-workers were with whom I had close friendships) is especially a danger to people who are mentally ill, elderly, severely disabled or poor and not able to afford appropriate medical care. I think it's truly unfortunate that the national Democratic party position favors the so-called "right" to kill the unborn, and that there are very few pro-life Democrats in Congress (there are a modest amount in a number of state legislatures, including my home state of Pennsylvania.

Patty Bennett
1 month ago

Wow! In reading your comment, I can't help but think of one of the lines from a film: "You've really had a wonderful life..." Thanks for sharing your many experiences and wisdom. Surely you've helped many people, and have a lot to teach others! You're giving great example of what "the mystical body of Christ" means.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

We will see probably an immediate increase in abortions in America if they overturn Roe v Wade. Every other Country in the world that strongly restricts abortion rights has higher abortion rates. This has been true for decades according to the World Health Organization and other very reliable sources. They also have higher maternal death rates in these countries. The U.S. has never managed to keep any illegal drug from being sold widespread within its borders and the abortion drug will find organizations willing to push it, even illegally, as a matter of principle and upholding women's right to choose. So what we will have is states in the South illegalizing it and their women going over to northern states, or Canada, or ironically Mexico, to get abortions (so the rich women and upper middle class women have nothing to worry about if they want an abortion) or women having dangerous abortions using the pill version without dr. supervision.

Nothing life promoting is likely to result for either the unborn or women if Roe V Wade is overturned - just a lot more death. But if deaths are increased due to the increased use of abortion pills then at least we probably won't know about it unless the women have complications or die. So we can feel good about ourselves and how we put a band aid on a heart attack and told God - see God - mission accomplished. We didn't have help women or support them with better health care, or daycare or paternity of maternity leave. We just criminalized abortions and hid our heads in the sands to avoid acknowledging the predictable results. Just like when we elected Trump.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 1 week ago

Nora
As noted above you continue to assert "a cause and effect relationship" between restricting abortions and an increase in the abortion rate. You distort the WHO statistics when WHO makes no such claim nor does the Guttmacher Institute which would be quick to make that argument if it could. This argument is an artifice of your own creation.

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

Actually, the WHO has indicated by its statistics that they do believe there is cause and effect. Otherwise there is no point in telling the world about these statistics and both organizations have done so. However, once they overturn Roe v. Wade, I am sure you will get to see the U.S. coincidently increase its abortion rate having nothing to do with increased restrictions on abortion too.

Call me wildly speculative but if the same issue comes up in every country of the world, except one, alongside only one other very likely causal issue also being present in every one of those countries too, I am going to bet that it is a cause and effect situation happening. Just like if there is DNA from a serial rapist present at a rape scene, I don't really hesitate to make that rapist my number one suspect for the crime. Am I absolutely certain he did the rape? Nope. But most likely he did.

Michael Barberi
1 month ago

Nora,

If you read the Guttmacher Institute Reports on abortion in the U.S., you will know that the overwhelming majority of women who have abortions in the U.S. do not use and misuse contraceptives. Abortions are primarily caused by unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. This can be eliminated or significantly reduced through the proper use of contraceptives. Ironically 80% of Catholics worldwide practice contraception but some young women (mostly single) do not take them either because they can't afford them or because they are being careless and irresponsible. Think about how many unplanned pregnancies and abortions could be saved by better contraceptive education, and/or better public funding of contraceptives for those who cannot afford them.

It is pure speculation on your part to assert that abortions will increase if Roe v. Wade is overturned. For one thing, it is not clear exactly what overturning Roe V. Wade would equate to. I don't think most people think that abortion will become illegal.

As to the problem, the hierarchy should focus on doing a better job increasing weekly Mass attendance. A 2017 survey found that even among weekly Mass attendees, only 17% of them consult a priest before making important moral decisions (e.g., abortion, divorce, contraception, etc). Fewer consult the Catechism. Most Catholics resort to prayer, family and friends. As you said, we cannot hide our heads in the sands about what the real problems are.

Patrick Byrne
1 month ago

Michael,

You make excellent points.

As for your last point (consulting a priest before making moral decisions), I can only speak from personal experience. The primary reason I did not do so, even during periods when I was attending mass weekly, is that I do not trust that a priest will be able to provide advice from experience. I know what the church hierarchy wants them to say from my reading of the catechism and other church documents (humanae vitae, for instance), and I know that in most cases this priest will have never had to confront these sorts of issues themselves because they have likely never been married or had sex outside of marriage. So my view is, what is the point? Why ask advice from someone who has never been there?

I'm a supporter of allowing priests to marry, or allowing women to become priests. There is no basis for either tradition in scripture, and we know for certain that Gregory VII's celibacy decree was a radical departure from early church tradition. The modern church does not seem willing to even broach the subject. I hope they will soon!

Be well!
Pat

Michael Barberi
1 month ago

Pat,

I agree. Priests have very little knowledge, much less experience, in dealing with sexual issues (regulating births for example) and other sexual matters involving marriage. Sometimes I have a personal counseling session with a priest to discuss theological issues such as same-sex marriage, how homosexuals should be treated and ministered to, and the like. Most times I find that the priest does not believe that sexual relations with same sex individuals in a civil marriage and in the service of love is necessarily 'evil'. A significant percent of priests do not believe that taking the pill for birth control in a marriage is a mortal sin.

I only wanted to point out that the Church has more significant problems to address than 'speculation' about Roe v. Wade. This does not mean I am minimizing the problem of abortion. Abortion or the termination of a pregnancy is a personal and moral matter, not merely a legal one. I don't believe in terminating a pregnancy except to save the life of the mother, and in cases of rape and incest as soon as possible after this immoral and criminal act (e.g., taking the morning after pill which is administered by Catholic Hospitals to rape victims after a negative pregnancy test).

Thanks for your comments.

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

Hi Michael,

I believe you mean well. My comment is certainly due to speculation but speculation based on solid evidence constitutes speculation that should be considered far more likely to soon become reality and fact compared to non-evidenced based speculation. Everything is speculation and theory before it is fact. Statistics are designed to help people and countries speculate future issues in order to defend against the negatives before they become fact.

According to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the U.S. the biggest reason women abort is failed contraception and that rate last stated was about 60% of all abortions. So, yes, better and free access to better forms of artificial contraception would help alongside better education. However, this is something our church would fight against with fury and this Justice would not wish to see taxpayer money pay for this expense since he supported the Hobby Lobby bunch.

Unfortunately, birth control restrictions are often put into place by the same people who seek to restrict abortions. This is why, yes, abortions would drop considerably in nations where they are highest, if the women there were offered free and quality birth control. However, there is no evidence supporting that even that drop would be equal to countries rates where abortion laws are less restrictive, and the countries offer free quality daycare, healthcare, and demand companies pay fairly long maternity and paternity leaves.

In fact, in countries that have the lowest abortion rates, such as Germany, if they were to illegalize abortion, but still offer birth control and the other benefits I mentioned, they could still see their abortion rates rise up. This is due to the fact that even in these countries, women after the first trimester can abort if the fetus is found to be unhealthy. So women who might have waited to see if their child is healthy when abortion was legal, and ascertain it does not have say "Downs" (which is still quite rare), now with abortion illegal may not take the chance, especially, if they are older women who already have other children. Women know that abortion pills are much easier to get illegally than having an actual illegal abortion surgery since no country in the world has successfully kept any illegal drug completely out of their country. So, in this hypothetical case, Germany could see a much greater increase in earlier abortions, except they may not easily be able to monitor that form of abortion because people don't report illegal abortions. So this leaves them with the appearance of a far lesser number of abortions than actually occurred based on lack of information for a true statistic. This constitutes the best way to stick one's head in the sand on this issue.

Ray Temmerman
1 month ago

Do Republicans really want to overturn Roe v Wade? On a moral level, perhaps. But on a political level? If it is overturned, what major rallying cry will they have to gather votes to the Republican party? I suggest Roe v Wade being overturned will either lead the Republican party to the political wasteland, or cause it to reinvent itself into a party which truly cares to conserve the common good. I long for the latter, but suspect the former would be a long interim step.

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