December 17, 2021 | The Pillar
Editor’s note: The Supreme Court case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization has the potential to revisit, or even revise, much of the settled jurisprudence around legalized abortion in the United States. So — what makes this case, and this moment, different?
Charlie Camosy sat down with Patrick Brown, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Kathryn Lopez, director of the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society at the National Review Institute, to talk about where things stand, and what comes next for the pro-life cause.
Camosy: I think I know the answer to this question, but let me ask it anyway: why do you think this a key moment for the pro-life movement when it comes to thinking about how we respond to, for lack of a better way of saying it, abortion demand?
Brown: If the Court does allow the Mississippi law [banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy] to stand, we’re going to be in a whole new ballgame. States will have much wider latitude to protect children in the womb, but the pro-choice side will also be energized and fighting hard to make those victories hard to come by.
So, if we want to achieve meaningful pro-life victories, it’s going to be important to reduce the need for abortion, not just reduce access to it. We have to show that we are accompanying women facing crisis pregnancies through public policy as well as through the heroic work so many centers and volunteers already do.
Lopez: This is really a time for choosing, to borrow a phrase. Do we truly stand with women, and children, and families, in ways beyond what we’re doing now?
The people who are on the front lines of the pro-life movement do tremdnous work at women’s care centers and maternity homes. I often point to the charism of the Sisters of Life, founded by the late Cardinal O’Connor in New York, as the way we are all called to live to some extent. They, as consecrated religious, are set apart, showing us what we ought to be striving for. Do we live our lives as heralds of the Gospel of Life?
One of the most important initiatives I’ve seen, perhaps in my life, is the Walking with Moms in Need initiative from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s not another document that goes largely unread — it is a challenge to each and every parish in America to do exactly what the name suggests. The materials they provide guide a self-assessment, to see what the parish does and what the needs are.
One of the disadvantages we have as Catholics is, because the institutional Church is so enormous, we can tend to assume needs are being met. This is absolutely [what we assume] when it comes to foster care and adoption.
If a scared pregnant woman stopped you while you were kneeling after Mass or during a midday prayer visit, would you know how to help her avoid having to have an abortion? Would the parish secretary or pastor know what to say or do if she knocked on the rectory or parish office door?
Even more fundamentally, do the young women — and men – know who would support them if they found themselves pregnant unexpectedly? Or would they think we would be all judgment? We really need to live the culture of life more radically.