Why the Supreme Court’s Decision Will Save Lives

COMMENTARY: The leaked majority opinion puts abortion policy squarely in the hands of the American voters, not the courts.

A pro-life supporter holds up a rosary as pro-abortion demonstrators march down Michigan Avenue on Saturday in Chicago.
A pro-life supporter holds up a rosary as pro-abortion demonstrators march down Michigan Avenue on Saturday in Chicago. (photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

The leak of a draft of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Mississippi abortion case contained both good news and bad news for the United States of America.

The draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion reverses 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, putting abortion policy in the hands of legislatures (federal and state), instead of courts.

Up to half of the states are poised to end abortion if Roe falls. And Congress will pass protective legislation, as well. This will save the lives of tens of thousands of babies and spare their mothers and fathers the lifetime of regret that can — and often does — follow the choice to end the life of a child. This is certainly good news.

But the unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court decision and the lunatic reaction of the pro-aborts — camped outside the Supreme Court, assaulting pro-lifers, publishing the home addresses of the pro-life justices — demonstrates that our wounded nation is farther than ever from healing. I fear there is not enough willingness to address abortion rationally, and that’s disheartening.

Having devoted the last 34 years of my life to ending abortion, though, I am inclined to focus on the positive. Lives will be saved, and I have to believe that hearts and minds will be changed. In states where abortion will no longer be available, there likely will be an initial surge in women traveling out of state for abortion, with many of these trips funded by companies that would prefer to help kill their employees’ babies rather than finding ways to help these moms choose life. Chemical abortion, with deadly pills delivered by mail, will increase. 

But after the initial hysteria, Americans will adjust to our new reality. Chemical abortion, which is much more dangerous for women than surgical procedures, will show its true face. Pregnancy-resource centers that already outnumber abortion businesses by a wide margin will become even more vital and may even become eligible for taxpayer funding. Imagine the help these life-affirming centers can provide if they were to receive even a fraction of the funding that annually flows to the nation’s No. 1 abortion business, Planned Parenthood.

In 2002, I co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign with Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life, to give a voice to the mothers and fathers who regretted their abortion experiences and were willing to carry signs saying so, giving their testimony in the public square. These are some of the most courageous people I know, so I turned to some of them when news broke that Roe v. Wade might be consigned to history.

Melissa Hemphill is a Silent No More regional coordinator in Idaho. She was 17 years old in 1973 when she got pregnant and her mother insisted she abort her child because the procedure had become legal across the nation. For her, the regret began before she was off the table in the exam room where her child’s life ended. Melissa later had an ectopic pregnancy. After that, she would never conceive again.

Hearing the news that the Supreme Court was on the verge of overturning Roe, she said she welled up with emotion. She told me she knows her mother would not have forced her to have an abortion if it had not been legal. Legality gives permission. The testimonies (see AbortionTestimony.com) on the Silent No More website are full of that exact assertion.

Some 63 million children have been killed by legal abortion in the nearly half-century since Roe. It’s not possible to say exactly how many women have had the procedure because so many women, up to 50%, have more than one abortion. But we know beyond a doubt there are millions of women all over our nation who have regretted making the choice for abortion, women whose jobs, education and relationships — even with future children — were harmed by that choice. With abortion no longer legal in up to half the states, there will be far less suffering, far less regret, far fewer lives derailed.

Babies’ lives will be saved by the overturning of Roe, which is the best news. But similar good news is that there won’t be nearly as many women powerless to undo their decision to end the lives of their own children.

I was not happy when the Supreme Court draft decision was leaked because it undermined our legal system and led to the kind of craziness we have seen outside the court since then. But there is a bright side, and it’s that Americans are talking about abortion now in ways most of them have not in their lifetimes. Generations have grown up with legal abortion, making it a non-issue for the majority of people. Now, it’s on everyone’s radar, and it’s no longer possible to be complacent. 

What those of us in the pro-life movement must do is capitalize on this teachable moment. We have to make people understand what abortion really is. It is not a choice made by a woman and her doctor. The vast majority of women go to free-standing abortion mills whose doors they will never enter again, unless they return for a second, third, fourth or fifth abortion. For many women, like Melissa above, it’s not a choice at all. Many women are coerced by parents, boyfriends or even employers to terminate their pregnancies. But these women are the ones alone on the table, watching the remains of their own flesh and blood filling up a glass jar.

Abortion is an ugly, brutal procedure — go to SeeAbortion.com to see for yourself. It has the power to destroy everything it touches. I hope the draft decision represents what the final decision will be and that the Supreme Court gets out of the abortion-regulation business. After that, what happens with abortion is in our hands. 

We have the power to elect politicians who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public. A different kind of choice is now being offered to us. I’m praying we choose wisely.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

10 Scripture Verses to Strengthen You in Hardship

“The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events …” (CCC 303)