After almost fifty years, the Supreme Court today ruled on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allowing Mississippi to ban abortions after fifteen weeks and ruling that there is no constitutional right to abortion, overruling both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on the case was leaked almost two months ago, wherein Justice Alito argued that Roe was poorly argued and had no actual footing in the Constitution, sparking protests in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, and around the country, as well as attacks on churches and pro-life pregnancy help centers. Today’s ruling confirms what pro-abortion rights advocates feared and what pro-life advocates hoped for and fought for for five decades.
There has been a lot of confusion on what Roe allowed and what changes this ruling represents. Many people thought that Roe simply allowed for abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and/or when the woman’s life was in danger, or when a pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. In fact, Roe allowed for abortion for virtually any reason at any time up to the point of birth, and forbade states from outlawing abortion, regardless of the sentiments of the people in any particular state. What this change means is that the legal standing of abortion and/or any restrictions placed on the procedure will be returned to the state legislatures, for the representatives of the people of each state to determine. As such, there will be states, such as Missouri, where abortion will effectively be outlawed, and states, such as California, where there will be essentially no changes in their abortion regime.
Here in Tennessee, there is a trigger law that takes effect in thirty days. After thirty days, performing an abortion in Tennessee will be a Class C felony, carrying a prison sentence of three to fifteen years and a maximum fine of $10,000. There are no penalties for the woman who receives the abortion. The only exceptions are for pregnancies that pose a risk of serious injury or death to the mother, and it is for the doctor to ascertain that.
While this is a time to celebrate, it is no time to rest on laurels. There is still a great deal of work to be done. I am convinced that the great majority of abortions are sought by women, or girls, because they genuinely feel they have no other option. I think it’s possible to empathize with women and girls who are carrying difficult pregnancies, without justifying abortion as a legitimate option for handling their difficulties, just as it’s possible to empathize with a single mother who is struggling financially to provide for her children without justifying killing her children as a legitimate option. Simply put: killing innocent people is never justified, and is never a solution to a problem, no matter how severe.
That doesn’t mean opponents of abortion can simply say, “Killing your child is not an option!” and leave it at that. Pro-lifers have never taken this attitude. Pro-lifers have always stood up for both the mother and the child in providing real options for both, even if that fact has not often been advertised by our secular culture. Now more than ever, however, the Church and the pro-life movement need to step up to create real options for women and their children. I am confident that will happen. There are pro-life pregnancy help centers in most major cities in every state. Here in Tennessee, assistance can be had through a number of agencies and organizations, including:
Pregnancy Help Center here.
Hope Resource Center here.
Catholic Charities of East Tennessee here.
Families First here.
Choices Chattanooga here.
No woman or girl should face an unplanned or difficult pregnancy alone. It is imperative that those who respect life be available to these women and girls. It’s the right thing to do.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.