On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a historic decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that effectively overturns Roe v. Wade. In a 6-3 ruling, the conservative majority upheld the Mississippi Gestational Age Act that bans abortion after 15 weeks, a decision that returns the regulation of abortion to the states. Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett wrote the opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts filing the concurring opinion. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan wrote the dissent.
The first page of the syllabus, a summary of the case which is released with the opinion, clearly states the outcome: "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." Futhermore, Justice Alito, who wrote the opinion, states unequivocally, "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision."
The pro-life movement has grown significantly throughout the past 49 years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, as advocates continue to work tirelessly to protect the sanctity of life. Recently, the pro-life community has been hopeful for the reversal of Roe when the Supreme Court majority shifted with President Donald J. Trump's appointments of three Justices who maintain a traditional interpretation of the Constitution (Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett). At the 2022 March for Life, participants acknowledged that this year may be the last march with Roe v. Wade in place. Still, it is well understood that the need to protect life is ongoing, as some states might expand abortion laws while others are more likely to issue restrictions. For instance, states such as California, Colorado, Illinois, and New York may expand access to abortion. At the same time, thirteen states have "trigger laws" in place that are set to go into effect once Roe is overturned --- Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
Catholics likely will notice with profound thanksgiving that this decision comes on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we rejoice and thank God for this victory for the unborn, let us continue to pray for the protection of life from conception to natural death. Those who are pro-life must remain courageous to stand for life by participating in the work of this movement. It is our responsibility to speak for babies who cannot defend themselves, to help mothers always choose life, to encourage men to be protectors of life, and to instruct others in the reality that life begins at conception.
May we entrust ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Chaste Heart of Saint Joseph as we continue to defend the precious gift of life.