The Future of Abortion in America
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: Pro-abortion state governments are moving aggressively to codify abortion rights, but pro-life advocates are also mobilizing to protect the sanctity of life.
By the end of its term in June, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to deliver a decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case that hopefully will remove the pro-abortion legal straitjacket that the court’s earlier Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood decisions have imposed on our nation for almost 50 years.
Anticipating this outcome, many pro-life state governments are moving to pass laws that sharply restrict access to abortion, or even to ban the life-ending practice entirely by amending their state constitutions. Recognizing that the future of abortion is in jeopardy, the Biden administration and the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership attempted — in concert with the abortion lobby — to pre-empt pro-life gains at the state level by enshrining abortion rights legislatively at the national level via passage of the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” Fortunately, this horrific pro-abortion bill, which would have been worse than Roe, failed at the end of February in the Senate.
Attention is also beginning to focus on Kansas, a state with a long and difficult history in the battle over abortion. As part of the state’s Aug. 2 primary elections, voters will be asked to consider an amendment that would explicitly clarify that the Kansas Constitution does not contain a right to an abortion. The ballot initiative would effectively overturn a 6-1 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 that ruled that the state’s Bill of Rights included such a right. While the ballot initiative would not automatically bring an end to abortion procedures in the state, it would set the stage for doing so. This ballot initiative is being watched very closely by groups across the nation because it will be the first public vote following the expected release of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case.
While these are encouraging signs, the potential return of primary authority over abortion to state governments also has a dark side: Pro-abortion state governments are mobilizing aggressively to protect and enhance abortion rights in their own backyards — and in some cases are positioning themselves to project the culture of death more broadly, by serving as “sanctuaries” where women from pro-life states can come to obtain abortions.
California is the most glaring example of this abortion extremism. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom last year commissioned a report on the “Future of Abortion,” drafted by Planned Parenthood and a coalition of other abortion providers and lobbyists. Among other things, the abortion lobby’s post-Roe wish list demands that the government of California pay for travel expenses incurred by women who come to the state for abortions and that it reimburse abortion providers when out-of-state women can’t pay for abortions themselves.
Obviously, forcing faithful Catholics and other pro-life Californians to fund these abortions would be an egregious breach of their conscience rights and of religious freedom. Apparently, this is of no concern to the Democrat-controlled California Legislature, which is in the process of enacting the abortion industry’s requests into law, or to Newsom, who publicly pledged “we’ll be a sanctuary” at the time of the release of the “Future of Abortion” report.
Legislation intended to shore up abortion access, by amending state constitutions to enshrine abortion, and to expand abortion funding has recently been passed or is under consideration in a number of other states, including New Jersey, Vermont, Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Others, including most notably New York and Illinois, enacted extreme pro-abortion legislation in 2019, with the same overarching goal of entrenching the life-destroying procedure in the event Roe was overturned.
Connecticut is another state where the problem of a pro-abortion government is particularly acute. As in California, the legislature is pushing forward an array of pro-abortion measures, including a bill that would make the state a “sanctuary” for out-of-state abortionists who have broken the law in their home states. Another bill being advanced would place language in the state constitution acknowledging a right to abortion, augmenting a previous 1990 measure that codified Roe into state statutes. And the state government has also targeted another bill at pro-life pregnancy centers.
The state is also home to some of the country’s most stridently pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who, as the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee, has spearheaded the Democrats’ ongoing campaign to overturn the Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funding of most abortions.
All this might seem to indicate that Connecticut is very rocky ground, in terms of being able to plant the pro-life seed. But it’s actually a state that faithfully pro-life Catholics should look toward for guidance about how they will need to respond if America’s abortion landscape is indeed redrawn by a favorable Dobbs decision later this spring.
Instead of withdrawing in dismay from the Nutmeg State’s public square in the face of the abortion lobby’s decades of dominance, the pro-life movement there is ratcheting up its efforts to bear witness to the sanctity of human life and to convert others to the cause of outlawing abortion. In mid-March, the first Connecticut March for Life was held directly outside the capitol in Hartford. An ethnically, politically and religiously diverse crowd of more than 2,000 proclaimed their pro-life message so loudly that the legislators inside had to declare a recess until the march had concluded.
A single gathering like this, unprecedented though it was, can hardly be expected to shift Connecticut over to the pro-life ledger all by itself. But with time, the collective prayers and efforts of those who join in pro-life advocacy can change enough hearts and minds to work political miracles. Catholics across America know this to be true. It was precisely this sort of collective mobilization, highlighted annually under the banner of the annual March for Life in Washington, that has brought the nation to the brink of repealing Roe v. Wade.
If that happens, though, we must remember that our work is anything but complete. We know that the struggle to completely abolish abortion will continue, and pro-abortion forces will remain politically ascendant in Washington for the time being. So we will be obliged to maintain our efforts at the federal level, striving to ward off the inevitable bid by Planned Parenthood and its political allies in Congress and the White House to undercut such a significant pro-life legal victory.
Even more, we will need to raise the level of our spiritual and political engagement to unprecedented heights at the state level. Going forward, this is where we can have the greatest impact, and this is also where we need to do even more to step up our commitment to pro-life initiatives that provide help and material support to women facing crisis pregnancies.
Above all, we need to recognize that this is first and foremost a spiritual battle. We need to continue to pray fervently for the day when every unborn baby is protected from the evil of abortion, in every state, city and town throughout our nation. Irreligious cynics will scoff that the power of prayer could ever bring about such a day, but as believers we know better. As Jesus reminds us, “for God, all things are possible.”
God bless you!