How Should We Think About the Dobbs Decision?
Let’s foster a culture of life and respect and love in our beloved country.
Last week, we learned that the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson reversed the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 (and Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992). There are a number of perspectives from which we can view the decision as the national discourse continues to heat up and explode.
First, it helps to view the decision from the vantage point of abortion supporters. It is important to ask why there are those who advocate for abortion so vehemently. Is it because they believe so strongly in the right of the federal government to enact law and make policy on the local level? Is it because they erroneously think “a clump of tissue cells” is not a human person? Or is it because they want access to unfettered sexual license without consequences? The first two possibilities may be true in some cases, but my experience leads me to see that the latter is most often the case. Abortion supporters have bought in to the lies of the Sexual Revolution: that sexual promiscuity is a must because we are an “animal” species, and that women need to be liberated from the oppression of marriage and child-rearing. Quite simply, this decision limits sexual license. People who will engage in sexual activity must do so with more responsibility (at least a little bit more) today than they have for the last half-century
We can view the decision as social commentators and historians. There is no doubt that this is a landmark Court decision. It overturns a legal precedent that was nearly a half-century old. Still, to assess its value we must also look at the fruits of the Roe decision over the last 50 years. There have been 50 to 60 million abortions in the United States since 1973. That’s an entire generation of American potential wiped out. We also have seen divorce and domestic violence rates rise precipitously. Contraception and abortion are not the answers to these problems; they are the causes of these problems. Beyond those trends from the past, this decision will also mean a flurry of legislative and social activity going forward. We will continue to see protests and angry people shouting through megaphones, perhaps with grotesque costumes. This engagement could go on for at least a year or two in some states, while legislators debate the legality of abortion and access to it. While this happens, we can be engaged in charitable conversations that illuminate facts for others.
We can view the decision as constitutional and legal scholars. Quite simply, there never has been a right to an abortion in the Constitution. There is not even an expressed right to privacy, from which the “rights” to contraception and abortion were derived. Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal lion of the Court in the last generation, admitted this reality during her term on the bench. These “rights” have been made up and “found” in the “penumbra of the Constitution” to perpetuate a secular cultural agenda. Abortion is not a question of federal law, and it never should have been. In our legal system, murder, which is the intentional killing of viable human life, is a state-level crime. To be consistent, questions of the killing of pre-born human life ought to reside at the state level also. And, finally, there is a strong legal argument to be made that the 14th amendment of our Constitution causes state-level laws to be applicable at the federal level. Thus, there ought not be any need for an additional federal statute.
We can view the decision as scientists. We are not mere animals. Pregnancy is the result of a human act gone rightly. It is not an “accident,” the result of an act of sexual intercourse gone “wrong.” Moreover, monogamous sexual intercourse, without contraception, and pregnancy have incredible mental and physical health benefits for the partners involved. Physiological and hormonal connections are made and solidified between the man and woman, giving them the desire and ability to connect on the deepest emotional level, to navigate together through life’s toughest situations and to be devoted solely to that one person. It is fascinating that loving sex and pregnancy lead us to fulfill the Creator’s plan for human biology.
We can view the decision as a child who wants more children in the world. I have five children at home, and I know dozens of families that have at least four children. All of these families readily admit what my wife and I experience at home: the children beg the parents to have another baby, or they simply assume that another baby is quickly on the way. Children want more children in the world. Maybe it’s because they want more playmates, but it’s also because children intuitively understand the inherent value of each new life. They want to love on that baby, feed and change that baby. They want to share the love that they have been given. This is surely one element of what Jesus means when he tells us that we must “become like children” in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven — and whoever receives a child in Jesus’ name receives Jesus himself (see Matthew 18:1-6).
Finally, we must look at the decision as Catholics who advocate for and support life at every stage. Now that abortion is no longer a federal “right,” we have even more diligent work to do. And we cannot simply advocate for state-level laws that cease the practice of abortion. We must also engage in the diligent, sometimes messy, work of supporting life at every stage. This includes those who are most vulnerable and on the margins of our society. We must consider how we can help pregnancy resource centers, food banks, medical and mental health organizations, and educational apostolates, just to name a few. We don’t necessarily have to start something new. We simply need to find the organizations and apostolates that we know we can help, and then we act. Finally, we pray and sacrifice. We pray for babies in the womb and mothers who are afraid to bring a baby into the world. We pray for those who are cast aside from society and never experience love. We pray for the organizations and apostolates that are staffing these efforts. We sacrifice our own time and resources to help in the ways we are called by God. We pray for healthy marriages which foster the lifelong, healthy development of all family members. Quite simply, ongoing and diligent prayer and sacrifice will be the fuel for this effort.
Now, let’s go bring truth, goodness and beauty into the world, and let’s foster a culture of life and respect and love in our beloved country.