By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Pro-life advocates express joy regarding historic decisions issued one week apart – that the U.S. Constitution and the Iowa Constitution do not confer a right to abortion — but acknowledge that their advocacy efforts must continue.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, in the process of upholding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks. “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the 6-3 opinion stated.
Further, the Court’s majority found that “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.” This decision paves the way for many state legislatures to determine their own policies regarding abortion. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the Court’s opinion, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joining. Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring with the judgment. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion.
One week earlier, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed its 2018 decision that recognized a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. However, the Court did not decide what constitutional standard should replace it. “Here in Iowa, abortion is still legal. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) is advocating for the ‘Protect Life Amendment,’ which would allow Iowans to pass laws protecting preborn children,” said Tom Chapman, executive director of the ICC, the public policy voice of Iowa’s bishops. The Iowa Supreme Court also sent back to a lower court a 2020 law requiring a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion.
Iowa’s bishops, in a statement made before the U.S. and Iowa Supreme Courts’ decisions, affirmed the dignity and value of every human life and welcomed the possibility of saving countless unborn children as well as sparing women and families the pain of abortion.
“We exhort our nation to prioritize the well-being of women, children, and families so that no woman ever feels forced to choose between her future and the life of her child,” the bishops said in their May 23 statement. “Through its charity agencies, and the independent efforts of its members, the Catholic Church is supporting all women in addition to the child in the womb. We accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, and during the early years of parenthood, through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need. The Church provides abortion-healing ministries, most often called Project Rachel Ministry, so that women and men receive forgiveness, healing, and spiritual renewal through Christ’s infinite mercy.” The bishops also encouraged support for the “Iowa MOMS” bill, which the Iowa Legislature later passed as part of the state’s human services budget (funded at $500,000).
“In all these ways and more, the Catholic Church witnesses to the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death, and works to build a true culture of life in our nation. No matter how the Dobbs case turns out, we have a responsibility and opportunity to take action to support the dignity of the human person and the common good.”
Johnson County Right to Life issued a statement about the Roe v. Wade decision, saying,
“Thank you for your tireless advocacy, fasting, and prayers for life! Over the years, many people have stayed on the sidelines and out of the conversation about abortion. We pray this monumental decision will awaken hearts and minds to our educational outreach and the availability of resources for women and families at the local level.”
The organization also advocates for passage of the Protect Life Amendment and noted, “We cannot establish a just society until every person receives protection under law, from conception to natural death. We pray for our country and our state, that the preborn would be protected, that women and men who have experienced abortion will find forgiveness and healing, and that those struggling with difficult pregnancies will find help and hope.”
“Now is the time to begin the work of building a post-Roe America,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in its June 24 statement. “It is a time for healing wounds and repairing social divisions; it is a time for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love.”
“As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue our service to God’s great plan of love for the human person, and to work with our fellow citizens to fulfill America’s promise to guarantee the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.”