Abortion, the Sacred Heart and the Road Ahead

EDITORIAL: The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was a true manifestation of Jesus’ mercy on our country.

A member of Bound 4 People, a Christian group, holds a baby while praying after the Supreme Court issued its opinion on Dobbs overturning Roe v. Wade.
A member of Bound 4 People, a Christian group, holds a baby while praying after the Supreme Court issued its opinion on Dobbs overturning Roe v. Wade. (photo: Allison Bailey / AP )

One year after Dobbs, it still seems a bit surreal to refer to Roe in the past tense.

For 49 years, the Supreme Court’s confounding ruling in Roe v. Wade forced on America a false consensus on abortion that never actually existed.

Few Americans would have agreed in 1973 that a woman should be able to abort her child at any time for any reason, but that’s what Roe and the court’s subsequent abortion rulings effectively allowed. States that recognized the inherent dignity of every human life, as the Catholic Church does, were powerless to untangle Roe’s twisted legal lock hold, but pro-life Americans never gave up the fight. Their perseverance and prayers were rewarded at last, on June 24, 2022. As Catholics, we appreciate the significance of that date: It was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Truly, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision was a manifestation of Jesus’ mercy on our country.

It is fitting to celebrate the first anniversary of that historic event, as large numbers of people are expected to do at a special rally that leading pro-life groups are hosting at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In the past year, a growing number of states have adopted laws to limit or effectively ban abortion. Such pro-life victories were unimaginable before Dobbs, and the courageous state lawmakers who made this happen deserve praise for their efforts.

But while Roe is dead, the mindset that abortion is health care and unborn babies are disposable commodities is very much alive. 

Recognizing that sobering reality, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, struck the right tone in a statement he released ahead of the Dobbs anniversary.

“Even as we celebrate, we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts to protect human life,” Bishop Burbidge astutely observed.

“Despite this momentous legal victory, sobering and varied challenges lie ahead of us. Over the past year, while some states have acted to protect preborn children, others have tragically moved to enshrine abortion in law — enacting extreme abortion policies that leave children vulnerable to abortion, even until the moment of birth,” he pointed out.

“In this shifting political landscape, we persist confidently in our efforts to defend life. The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so,” Bishop Burbidge said. “The task before us begins with our knowledge of the truth and our courage to speak it and to live it with compassion.” A silver lining of the deplorable violence and hate last year’s court ruling unleashed was that it shone a light on the work of little-known pro-life pregnancy centers across the U.S. that have been quietly putting Bishop Burbidge’s words into action. Most are small and poorly funded; many of them have come under physical or legislative attack in the past year.

Chances are, there’s one near where you live. Get to know them. Find out how you can help. If there’s not one locally, maybe there ought to be, and maybe you or your parish ought to start talking about getting one going. 

Political action and electoral victories are critical, of course, if we hope to build on the life-affirming momentum that Dobbs provided. But don’t underestimate the power that diapers, baby formula and a little compassion can have to change hearts and minds in the places where we live.

A Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Virgin of Guadalupe,

Patroness of unborn children,

we implore your intercession

for every child at risk of abortion.

Help expectant parents to 

welcome from God

the priceless gift of 

their child’s life.

Console parents 

who have lost that gift 

through abortion, 

and lead them to 

forgiveness and healing through the Divine Mercy of your Son.

Teach us to cherish

and to care for family and friends

until God calls them home.

Help us never to see others as burdens.

Guide our public officials

to defend each and every 

human life through just laws.

Inspire us all to bring our faith into public life,

to speak for those 

who have no voice.

We ask this 

in the name of your Son,

Jesus Christ, 

who is Love and Mercy itself.


Source: USCCB