From staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON — On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its nearly 50-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to 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, and some already have, including Texas which has a “trigger law” outlawing abortion once Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“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.
Alito, writing for the majority, said: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.”
In the Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Edward J. Burns expressed gratitude for the court’s decision, calling for continued prayers for the sacred right to life.
“Recognizing both the laws of nature and God’s divine plan, we acknowledge that life begins at the moment of conception. At that moment of conception, the child has the right to be born, the child has the right to life,” Bishop Burns said. “Since 1973, we have prayed and marched for the right to life. We are grateful that this day has come and give thanks to God for the gift of life. Let us continue to pray that all will come to acknowledge this sacred right to life.”
Bishop Burns said the Diocese of Dallas will continue offering support for women in need through the efforts of the Catholic Pro-Life Community, Catholic Charities Dallas, crisis pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and other pro-life organizations within the diocese.
“We will also continue offering support through our three crisis phone lines (1-800-BABY-DUE, 214-557-5286, or 972-BABY-DUE) and we look forward to the opportunity to grow together in our goal to continue to offer as much additional support as possible to mothers in need and encourage them to make use of these resources,” the bishop said.
With the decision, Bishop Burns called on the faithful to join together in prayers for peace and understanding.
“Let us now all join together in prayer asking God our Heavenly Father to bless our country with peace and help us seek understanding for one another and respect for life during this time,” Bishop Burns said.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the decision a “historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers.”
“We pray that our elected officials will now enact laws and policies that promote and protect the most vulnerable among us,” said the June 24 statement by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, and Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops also issued a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We celebrate with grateful hearts the historic decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade. The state of Texas will again have the ability to protect and defend children in the womb at all stages,” the statement read. “We are grateful the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott have already passed a law prohibiting elective abortion, which will become effective 30 days after the final ruling is issued.
“We pledge to redouble our efforts to work with Texas legislators and all others of good will to reinforce current support systems for pregnant mothers with insufficient support, their families, and children in need of adoption or foster care,” the statement continued. “This decision begins a new chapter of light in American history with the end of legal elective abortion in Texas. It requires that we become intentionally more aware of the needs of pregnant mothers and fathers of the unborn in our own parishes and communities by listening to them, seeking understanding, and helping them obtain the necessities of life for themselves and their children. May we continue to lovingly support mothers and fathers in welcoming and caring for God’s gift of life.”
Back in Dallas, the Catholic Pro-Life Community, the Respect Life Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, also applauded the decision.
“This is a momentous day for life,” said Geralyn Kaminsky, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Community. “This decision corrects an egregious wrong and returns authority over abortion laws back to individual states. We are so proud of our lawmakers who have led the way in making Texas a pro-life state. But our work is not done yet, far from it. We have a responsibility to walk with moms who believed that abortion was their only option, and we will walk with them until they can walk on their own.”
Kaminsky noted that for almost 30 years, CPLC has supported mothers in crisis and assisted them financially, spiritually, and emotionally through its Project Gabriel Ministry.
“There are countless resources available to moms and families throughout our community and our country,” Kaminsky said. “We meet moms where they are in their situation and provide the assistance they need to choose life and save their child. The CPLC partners with pregnancy resource centers, food banks, maternity homes, medical doctors, and private donors, as well as a host of other resources that enable us to provide necessary assistance that will put a pregnant or parenting mom in better circumstances to love and care for her child.”
Carol Zimmermann of Catholic News Service contributed to this report.