Rejoice and Work in the Post-Roe Present

Praise God! What else can I say – can any of us say – in response to this incredible moment in U.S. history? And indeed, as I wrote this on Friday afternoon, I saw that the phrase “praise God” was trending on Twitter, right below the headline “U.S. Supreme Court strikes down landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.”

As you have no doubt heard by now, on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court has resoundingly overturned Roe, the 1973 decision that invented a “Constitutional right” to abortion. The Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 majority to uphold Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In doing so, the majority overturned two key decisions protecting access to abortion: 1973’s Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, decided in 1992.

The justices who voted to overturn Roe and Casey were Justices Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas. Justice Roberts issued a concurring opinion, in which he supported the majority in their decision to uphold the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that was the subject of the decision; however, he disagreed with the majority’s decision to completely toss out Roe, instead of taking a more incremental approach. Dissenting were Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer.

In the no-holds-barred majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito argued that Roe was “egregiously wrong” from the start. By wielding “raw judicial power” the justices who first handed down the “exceptionally weak” Roe put the decision “on a collision course with the Constitution.” In Roe, argued Alito, “the Court usurped the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people.”

Furthermore, instead of settling the abortion issue, as the justices who originally voted for Roe had hoped, Roe and Casey (the companion case handed down the same day as Roe) have “enflamed debate and deepened division.” Alito concluded, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

 

Decades of Sacrifice

It is difficult for me to believe that I am reading those words.

For nearly 50 years, countless pro-life activists have shed blood, sweat, and tears to see this day. From the day that Roe was first handed down in 1973, there have been many individuals who felt the injustice of legal abortion so deeply that they were compelled to drop everything, and to commit themselves to working full time to save the lives of unborn children.

Some of them spent untold thousands of hours standing in front of abortion facilities, in rain or shine, reaching out to women in crisis, offering them hope and love in their moment of doubt and fear. Others opened pregnancy care centers or even whole networks of such centers. Others with a gift for politics drafted legislation or lobbied legislators to chip away at legal abortion, gradually shifting the legal consensus in the direction of life.

Countless others, unable to devote themselves full-time to the task, nevertheless committed huge amounts of their spare time and resources to the fight. For nearly 50 years, hundreds of thousands of people have gathered every year at the National March for Life in D.C. on January 22, mourning the anniversary of Roe, that day of infamy. Many others have volunteered in their local schools, legislatures, pregnancy centers, or have ensured that they raised children who embraced the gift of life.

Many of these pro-life warriors did not live to see this day. Nearly five decades have passed since Roe, during which untold millions of unborn children have died at the hands of abortionists. At one time or another in varying degrees, we were tempted to lose hope, fearing that the pro-aborts were correct when they said that the “tide of history” was on the side of abortion, not life.

Today, we know, as we always knew in our hearts, that this was not true. The tide has changed. Evil never has the final word. Though the black clouds of injustice and murder cover the land, we know that behind those clouds shines the bright sun of truth and justice.

On Friday, which was fittingly the great Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as the Nativity of John the Baptist, whom the Scriptures recount “leapt” in his mother’s womb, those clouds were rent asunder, and rays of light shone through. No doubt the many deceased pro-life greats such as Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., Joe Scheidler, and March for Life founder Nellie Grey (whose birthday, in another miraculous confluence of events, was on Friday!) are having a giant celebration in heaven right now, knowing that their work was not in vain.

woman hope sun

 

Babies Already Being Saved

The effect of Friday’s decision was immediate.

As many pro-life leaders have noted in recent weeks and months, overturning Roe does not mean that abortion automatically becomes illegal nationwide. Instead, it means that the issue goes back to the states, whose citizens and elected representatives must decide abortion law on a state-by-state basis.

However, many pro-life states have long been preparing for this day, passing various “trigger” laws that immediately go into effect with Roe gone. Other states have pre-Roe bans still on the books, which means that with Roe out of the picture, abortion immediately becomes illegal in those states as well.

As an astonishing testament to the fact that America has long been trending pro-life, as many as twenty-six states already have banned, or are expected to largely or completely ban. abortion. In the case of the thirteen states with “trigger” laws, most of those bans have already gone into effect.

And already, we are seeing the life-giving consequences. Within hours of the decision, reports began to emerge of abortion facilities closing their doors, and sending staff home. One estimate suggested that a quarter of the abortion facilities in the U.S. would immediately close with Roe gone.

In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton struck the right note when he declared June 24 an annual holiday and shut his office down for the day. “[F]or half a century, Americans have had to live under these illegitimate, illegal, and unconstitutional dictates of a partisan, willful Supreme Court,” said Paxton in a statement. “No more. Today, the question of abortion returns to the states. And in Texas, that question has already been answered: abortion is illegal here. I look forward to defending the pro-life laws of Texas and the lives of all unborn children moving forward.”

Meanwhile, in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem made it clear that that state’s trigger law had gone into effect, and that abortionists would be subject to prosecution if they violated that law.

In other words, children are already being saved today from abortion. Every day that Dobbs, rather than Roe, is the law of the land, is a day that hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of unborn children are saved from a premature death.

 

Pro-Aborts Respond with Violence, Rage

In the leadup to Friday’s decision, pro-abortion extremists had threatened – and perpetrated – violence, in response to the possibility of losing the “right” to kill unborn children. The most egregious instance was the attempted murder of Justice Kavanaugh, which was foiled only when the would-be assassin had a run-in with U.S. Marshalls outside Kavanaugh’s house.

In the weeks before the decision, numerous pro-life pregnancy centers and churches were vandalized. Several pro-life centers were firebombed, causing extensive damage. Others were subject to obscene, pro-abortion graffiti, or had windows that were smashed, or staff that received threats.

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” has claimed responsibility for many of these attacks. The group, which can only rightly be called a domestic terror organization, presents itself as a decentralized network of numerous activists and groups.

“We have demonstrated in the past month how easy and fun it is to attack,” they wrote in a statement posted to their website on June 15. “We are versatile, we are mercurial, and we answer to no one but ourselves. We promised to take increasingly drastic measures against oppressive infrastructures.” They added, ominously, “Rest assured that we will, and those measures may not come in the form of something so easily cleaned up as fire and graffiti.”

In the days leading up to the decision, they began blanketing D.C. with pamphlets calling for a “night of rage” in response to the decision. “THE NIGHT SCOTUS OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE HIT THE STREETS YOU SAID YOU’D RIOT,” read the flyers. “TO OUR OPPRESSORS: IF ABORTIONS AREN’T SAFE, YOU’RE NOT EITHER. JANE’S REVENGE.”

As of this writing, this “night of rage” has largely failed to manifest. However, there have been additional acts of vandalism targeted at pro-life centers, and some pro-abortion protests have become unruly, leading to arrests. One pro-life pregnancy center in Colorado was set on fire Saturday morning, the day after the decision. Meanwhile, churches and pregnancy centers across the country have increased security in response to the threats.

It is indeed egregious and scandalous that the Biden administration remains relatively silent over the attacks on churches, pregnancy care centers, and pro-life organizations. This is domestic terrorism, and it must be denounced.

 

Pray, Support Mothers in Crisis, Get Involved

As I mentioned several weeks ago, now is the time when all pro-lifers must go above and beyond in finding ways to support women in crisis pregnancies.

For decades, the pro-life movement has distinguished itself by its generosity, with pro-life individuals giving huge amounts of their time, talent, and treasure to walk alongside women and the fathers of their children, helping them to face a time of uncertainty and fear with courage and hope.

Even as government has showered billions of dollars in public largesse on places like Planned Parenthood, we have responded by instituting vast support networks of pregnancy care centers, often entirely with private funds and donated time.

And yet, somehow, we must find a way to do even more.

One way of showing gratitude for the courage of our pro-life leaders, especially those serving in state and federal government, would be to seek out your local pregnancy care center(s) and pro-life organizations(s) and to find ways of supporting them. That can involve a generous donation, or the decision to begin volunteering time. Our task now is to ensure that every woman facing a crisis pregnancy who goes seeking help, finds it.

Texas is one state that is leading the way, diverting funds that were once used to support pro-abortion organizations towards life-saving alternatives. The state has set up a $100 million Alternatives to Abortion program, with the money going to support such things as providing mothers and fathers with classes on pregnancy and parenting, urgent material goods such as car seats, diapers, and formula, and support for housing.

Hopefully, other states will follow suit, recognizing that as a society there is nothing more important than investing in the lives of the next generation. Life and family are the foundations of a healthy society. With Roe gone, we are now in a position to rebuild on the rubble that Roe left behind, creating institutions and structures that support rather than harm the sanctity of life and the family.

And, of course, everyone reading this must do whatever they can to get involved in the battle for life in their own state. With Roe gone, the battle shifts definitely to the individual states (and we must not forget that the issue of contraception and abortion continue to affect U.S. international state policies). Many states, such as New York and California, will continue to be as pro-abortion as ever, and will present themselves as “abortion havens,” to which women seeking abortions can travel in order to have their unborn children killed. For pro-lifers in those states, there is a long battle ahead to translate Dobbs into a pro-life reality. Meanwhile, in pro-life states, pro-life activists must create an overwhelming political consensus on the issue, so that no unborn child in their state need ever again fear for his or her life.

 

Rejoice

And yet, as we gird ourselves for the fight ahead, let us take this opportunity to celebrate.

As R.J. Snell writes at The Public Discourse, “June 24, 2022 is a day to mark, to etch into memory, a day to cry out in joy and celebration. A great injustice has been righted. Gather with your children, your grandchildren, with all those who with the Psalmist sing, ‘exsultate Deo, adjutori nostro, jubilate Deo Jacob . . . insigni die solemnitatis vestrae.’ Rejoice in God our helper, sing aloud to the God of Jacob…”

We mourn the millions of lives lost, due to the hubris of seven unelected judges, who took it upon themselves in 1973 to unconstitutionally steal authority from the American people, and to impose their nihilistic, radically individualistic, anti-life worldview on the whole nation. And yet, we face the future with renewed hope and gratitude.

Many, including Snell, are recalling the words of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, as pointing a path forward for the pro-life movement. And indeed, the words are a fitting conclusion to this column:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves…



About Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing hli@hli.org.

9 Comments

  1. Joan L Johnson on June 27, 2022 at 5:29 PM

    Thank you for this thoughtful article. I have sent it on to the Board members of our Republicans for Life club, here in Vero Beach, FL We will need organizations such as yours to keep us informed on the future pro-choice legal attacks, so that we can be prepared and armed in each state. Thank you for the work you do.

    • HLI Staff on June 29, 2022 at 2:23 PM

      Joan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly at hli@hli.org if you have any questions or are looking for resources.

  2. Denise on June 28, 2022 at 12:51 AM

    I am interested in what the pro life groups have been doing for the past 50 years to support pregnant women . I am not being unkind, I’m just interested in finding out. I live in a town with a clinic that performs abortions long with other services for women . I have never been in there but I have frequently seen the protestors with their signs yelling at women . I have always wanted to ask what they would do for a woman who came to them seeking help . Years ago I went to a pregnancy center to get a pregnancy test . I was planning on keeping my baby . Before I could be tested I had to watch a video showing aborted babies even though I told the lady I was keeping my baby. I found that disrespectful. What is the stance on contraceptives to prevent pregnancy ? What about a woman who has an incomplete miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy?
    Again I was raised in the church but I truly want to know what is being done to help the woman and the babies after they are born . What about the children in foster care ?

    • HLI Staff on June 28, 2022 at 10:24 AM

      You raise some great questions, Denise. As a Catholic apostolate, HLI has always taught what the Catholic Church teaches, that human life is sacred and deserving of protection and care from conception through natural death. Catholic charities have a long history of advocating for and assisting all those in need; showing mercy to others is a tenet of the Catholic faith (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, burying the dead, and giving alms to the poor). There is much evidence to show that pro-life Catholics, Christians and other groups of good will support women before, during and after the birth of their child. I humbly share this video which answers the “complaint” that pro-lifers only care about saving babies: https://www.hli.org/abortion-videos/do-pro-lifers-care-about-life-after-birth/. On it’s face, contraception might seem as if it prevents unwanted pregnancy, but in reality, contraception often does not prevent all pregnancies. According to a USCCB fact sheet 48% of women with unintended pregnancies were using contraception in the month they conceived, and “about half” of pregnancies ended by abortion occur during use of contraceptives. https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/fact-sheets/upload/Contraception-fact-sheet.pdf. Additionally, here is an HLI video answering the question whether contraception prevents abortion: https://www.hli.org/abortion-videos/does-contraception-prevent-abortion/. Medical treatment for miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or other life threatening health-related issues is always allowed. Real doctors always try to save both mother and child; the death of either one is unintended and not desired. Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent child. The point is to “get rid of” the child. Big difference, especially to that child who could have been you or I. It is far more compassionate to build a culture of sexual responsibility and to provide mothers and families with what they need to raise their child or assist them to place their child with a willing couple through adoption. There are more couples waiting to adopt in this country than babies aborted! In HLI pregnancy care centers around the world, women are being helped with pre-natal care, maternity clothes, diapers, formula, parenting classes, clothes for infant and toddlers, help to find housing, counseling, crib and car seat, tuition to go back to school… where there’s a need, HLI’s AMAZING donors enable us to fill it!

    • Virginia Burkart on June 29, 2022 at 3:26 PM

      In the West Side of Cincinnati, Ohio there is Pregnancy West who help pregnant women : and in Northern Ky. we have care Net Pregnancy Center. They do sonograms, have classes for Mother & Father,give diapers, food , any additional help or one-on-one,s that they wish to have. I give to them monthly & pray for them.

  3. Mary P. on June 29, 2022 at 1:16 AM

    Praise God! I have thanked Him often this week for hearing and answering our prayers to end Roe v Wade and for getting us closer to ending the tragedy and horror of abortion.

    Sadly, I live in a pro-abortion state (WA), so pro-lifers here still have our work ahead of us. We will continue to contact our state leaders to hear our plea for the unborn, to get pro-life candidates elected to state offices, and to be a presence outside local abortion facilities and a place for pregnant women to turn for help. By the way, we never yell at anyone going in or out of the abortion facility. We hold our signs and pray the rosary and, if approached by pregnant women for help, we escort them to the pro-life center down the street.

    Thank you Fr Shenan Boquet and and HLI priests and staff for all you do for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies! Keep up the Lord’s work! Through Him, we will have victory!

    • HLI Staff on June 29, 2022 at 2:08 PM

      We add our gratitude to God with yours, Mary. You are right, overturning of Roe v. Wade is only a first step. There is much work yet to be done to change the minds and hearts of others. I am reminded of those marching in Washington, DC, at the March for Life; they walk peaceful and prayerful. Those praying outside abortion facilities just want to help women and families.

  4. SharonM on July 1, 2022 at 10:04 AM

    I hope what is on my mind is not too long but it’s something that has bothered me for many years. I was in the era of when contraceptives really took off. I was young, married and not yet really self deciplined as yet. I became pregnant 6 months into marriage for lack of taking them as directed. My expereince with it was in the daily pill form, that is the only method I used. I stopped at 3 children and had a tubligation procedure, therefore never taking any more contraceptives.
    In all branches of my family trees, the only disability was a 3rd cousin with Polio and my grandmother who lost her hearing.
    When my sons grew up and began their families, contraceptives had changed dramatically, 1st the 3 month shot, 6 month shot, yearly shot and 2 mothers of my grandchildren had been on those shots for a few years. For some reason the oldest children of 2 of my sons are special needs (one more severe). I had by then recieved my degree in Early Childhood Education and was working in centers caring for children birth to 7 years old. I began to notice an increase in children with learning and social behaviors. Within a 5 year span my class of 13 (3year) olds went from One child with needs to seven. All different ranges in conditions. I asked these mothers if they used contraceptives and if they didn’t mind telling me ..what kind. They all said “Depo” the yearly shot. Others used it as well so I am not saying all taking it had these results.
    God made our bodies as they are for a reason and for us to mess with such a perfect design for what? Inconveince, lust, all selfish motives. I believe you can’t mess with God’s creation and not expect ramifications from the result. But, my point is, how much did the drug companies know how this could effect future children? Has it been shushed and covered up all these years? I watch my grandson, 18 now with the mind of a 2 year old, and I want to scream….how could we not realize? When I was needing God and Our Savior in my life, he led me to a church and group of people that even more so made me wonder if my gut feelings were in fact right. It was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
    What I noticed over my time with them mostly.. they teach thier children to abstain until marriage and not to use contraceptives…at all. I am sure there were some who fell off the path but the large percent stayed true. There were 3 generations of familes who were dedicated followers and not ONE disability in any children of those familes. There was one teen with a severe disabilty and his family had converted when he was quite young. Did the Lord want me to spefically notice all this? I have tried to talk with many about this, but of course who wants to hear what we did is possibly the cause of all this as time went by and DNA, changed and drugs mutated tissue in children skipping over some generations to hit the next. I just don’t know where to go with my feelings or if it will do any good, so if you read all this.. Thank You! I don’t know if it is worth looking into a or how, I know I can’t do it alone.

  5. […] I wrote last week, the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health […]

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