In what is a landmark opinion, on Friday the U.S. Supreme Court has ended the legal basis for federal abortion rights. In the 6-3 vote, a conservative, mostly Catholic majority overturned Roe v. Wade. The ruling will lead to immediate significant restrictions or bans on abortion in more than 20 states.
To the pro-life movement the decision published on this day, which Catholics celebrate as the Feast of the Sacred Heart, is a monumental victory won after a bitter 5-decade fight for the protection of the unborn.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three were appointed by former president Donald Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment. The ruling declares Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were “egregiously wrong from the start.”
“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito continued. Chief Justice John Roberts while upholding the Mississippi law (which bans abortion after 15 weeks), did however not join his conservative colleagues in overturning Roe. The Court’s three remaining Democratic appointees wrote “With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.”
Outside responses to the ruling varied wildly. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement, which read:
America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This truth was grievously denied by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized and normalized the taking of innocent human life. We thank God today that the Court has now overturned this decision. We pray that our elected officials will now enact laws and policies that promote and protect the most vulnerable among us.
Unsurprisingly, at pro-abortion organisations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, the mood is glum. Democrat House Speaker (and self-identified Catholic) Nancy Pelosi called the decision “radical” during her weekly press conference.
The ruling comes more than a month after a leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, published by Politico, caused uproar with pro-abortion politicians and activists, while invigorating pro-lifers. Many speculated that the leak may have been a way of pressuring judges into changing their votes (or to incite hatred and threats against them, the harsh reality of which Justice Kavanaugh recently learned). Right after the leak and the outrage that followed, Justice Clarence Thomas said that “we can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want.”
In anticipation of the vote, Catholic churches had already been alerted by law enforcement that a radical group calling itself “Jane’s Revenge” is “calling for extreme violence” against churches nationwide. According to an internal document obtained by Newsweek, a “Night of Rage” targeting churches and pregnancy centers, had been planned for 8:00 p.m. on the night the decision was released.
Now it is up to pro-lifers to brace for impact and, most importantly, not give in to undue pressure themselves.