Pro-Life in Post-Roe America
The overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court sent shockwaves throughout the country. Coverage saturated news headlines and social media. Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe on a federal level; the majority ruling of the Supreme Court stated that there was no basis for a right to abortion in the constitution. The decision went from the federal to the state level. Yes, the pro-life movement gained a significant victory and it is worth celebrating that an untold number of lives were saved. Abortion has not disappeared from our nation, however. Where should the pro-life movement go next?
While the U.S. Constitution has no basis for a right to abortion, the question returns to the states. Michigan voters just added a radically pro-abortion amendment to their state constitution; California has offered itself as a “sanctuary” for those seeking abortion. Florida, on the other hand, has a pro-life governor and has passed a few pro-life laws in the last few years. The lay of the land varies depending on one’s state and governor.
This brings up an important point for election season: your vote is crucial to the pro-life cause. State and federal congressional seats now carry more weight in the post-Roe world. Whereas Roe had to get reversed by the Supreme Court, now pro-life efforts will be engaged in the spheres of state and local courts and legislatures. Here again: your vote is crucial in advancing pro-life laws. The abortion agenda has progressed to a radical point. As each election cycle goes by, it has become harder and harder to morally justify voting for pro-abortion candidates based on their stance on “social justice” issues.
In addition to elections, the cause has shifted to include pharmacies. The Food & Drug Administration now allows retail pharmacies to dispense the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone. Contacting the major retailers is an important step.
As the abortion issue continues to polarize the country, we must turn to the Queen of Peace. Pray the rosary! There is no stronger prayer against the activity of the evil one. The rosary has won battles, defeated heresy, and more recently, fought on behalf of Nigerian Catholics against Boko Haram. We do not know when Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph, but every rosary said is extra graces in God’s hand.
Engaging with the Other Side
This is admittedly tough for two main reasons. First, the debate often hinges on a definition of truth rather than on science. Second, the emotional weight of this issue (on both sides) makes it even more complicated. Throw in various healthy and unhealthy ways of responding to conflict and the result is a very complicated discussion on a divisive issue.
Science is a valuable ally in engaging with someone who is pro-abortion, but I think the roots of the abortion problem run deeper. We cannot discount the fact that many people on the pro-abortion side are working from a completely different definition of truth. The Catholic paradigm holds that truth is founded on God and His revelation. For secularists who have a lukewarm to zero religious affiliation, many hold a relativistic view of truth. That is, what one person believes is “true” for them is just as valid as another person holding a different “truth” for them.
Matt Fradd discussed this problem of truth on his “Pints With Aquinas” podcast with therapist Dr. Gerry Crete (8 minute snapshot here; full, 2-hour episode here). Embedded in that is the key question: what does it mean to be human? Catholics and moral relativists arrive at very different answers to that question just as they answer the “truth” question differently. Implicit in bringing up truth and the human person underlines that abortion is not purely a religious issue. It is an issue of the natural law and thus incorporates reason and logic. When encountering a person in favor of abortion, don’t feel like it has to be a matter of religion.
The emotional weight of abortion also brings a lot of baggage to the conversation. How many lives have been touched by it? Not just the mothers, but also the fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends. What about other elements, like the presence or absence of the father, substance abuse, poverty, or a woman being afraid of other factors in her life? Please do not read those as justifications for abortion. These are all wounding in one way or another, which then influences behavior and things we say. So when discussing with someone that’s pro-abortion, consider this factor of emotional weight.
Supporting Those in Crisis
Out of all the factors, this is the most important one. In an era of overwhelming news and information, I do not think even the most carefully-worded social media post (or blog post) matters as much as action. Believing in the sanctity of human life is crucial. Social media posts have their place and it is important to stand up against abortion in those arenas. Yet one of the best ways to work against abortion is to take away the customer base. Support women who are pregnant and who might otherwise get an abortion. Let them feel loved, valued, and most importantly, not alone. What are the best ways to do that?
Learn what resources already exist in your areas—both your state’s right to life affiliate (directory here) and your local pro-life crisis pregnancy center—and support the heck out of them. Give baby clothes and diapers; donate money as you are able; attend their fundraising dinners; volunteer to serve as a mentor or in some other capacity. Please note you likely have something to offer as a volunteer even if you’re not a nurse, social worker, or professional counselor.
If you come across a woman or a father considering abortion, be a kind, listening ear. God chose to place you there, in that conversation, in the path of that person. A referral to the local crisis pregnancy center is great and be sure to stand firm against abortion—but not before you exhibit a Christ-like love and concern.
Let us commend our country and this cause to Our Lady. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!