The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade was a great victory for the pro-life movement and an answer to the prayers and hard work of those committed to the pro-life cause during a journey of nearly half a century.
Our voices have been heard, and we’re overwhelmed with joy.
The decision—which found there is no constitutional right to abortion and left it to individual states to regulate the practice, or ban it altogether—was a momentous event.
We join all who are offering prayers of thanksgiving for the countless innocent lives that will be saved.
Along with the bishops of New York State, we also acknowledge the wide range of emotions associated with the decision, officially Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and we recognize that it’s a judicial victory, not a cultural one.
The culture remains deeply divided on the issue of abortion access, and it’s clear that the pro-life movement’s work is not over. There is still a lot to be done in helping support women across the country who may feel uneasy and troubled by the high court’s ruling.
While we rejoice in the Dobbs decision, then, we understand that this is not a time to celebrate.
Indeed, the reversal of Roe will not immediately change anything here in New York, where our state laws guarantee continued access to abortion as before. In fact, the numbers will likely rise in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision as women from states with limited or no access will travel here for abortions—as they will to other states with few or no restrictions.
There is much that needs to be done to change the culture and build a culture of life, including the enactment of family-friendly policies that welcome children, support mothers, cherish families and empower them to thrive.
Fortunately, we’ve had successful models here like Good Counsel Homes and other mother and child missions such as those organized by the Sisters of Life. But these and similar efforts must be multiplied many times over just in New York alone.
Most importantly, it’s now time to step back from confrontation and allow the love that’s at the foundation of the pro-life witness be first thing that people encounter.
“[June 24] is a day to ask for God’s help in winning minds and hearts to understand and to accept the precious gift of life from the moment of conception onward and to create the kind of conditions in society where no mother feels she has to choose between her future and the life of her child,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in remarks after the court’s announcement.
He called on the Church and society to redouble their efforts to help women in difficult or unplanned pregnancies, noting the bishops’ 2020 initiative called “Walking With Moms in Need” which aims to engage parishes to do exactly that.
So, yes, the road ahead will likely not be smooth and some may become discouraged.
But we can and must continue making the case for life even when it’s a lonely exercise. We’ve achieved a critically important goal in building a culture of life. The journey continues, along with our prayers.