True Democracy!

A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: All Americans who cherish our democratic traditions ought to welcome the overturning of Roe — even those who support legal abortion.

An American flag flies behind security fencing outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.
An American flag flies behind security fencing outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 1, 2022 in Washington, DC. (photo: Drew Angerer / AFP/Getty)

Every year on July 4, Americans gather to celebrate the many blessings that we continue to enjoy, through the grace of God and our shared commitment to our nation’s foundational democratic principles. This year, Independence Day follows on the heels of the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, which has overturned the so-called constitutional right to abortion that was created 50 years ago by the Supreme Court’s earlier and ill-conceived Roe v. Wade decision. 

For faithful Catholics and other pro-life Americans, the Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade is cause for special rejoicing on the Fourth of July in 2022. In fact, all Americans who cherish our democratic traditions ought to welcome the overturning of Roe — even those who support legal abortion. That’s because the Supreme Court’s decision will return authority over abortion law to state legislatures, where it previously resided throughout our nation’s history until 1973. There was never any sound constitutional justification for the Supreme Court’s intervention at that time, stripping away that democratic authority from the states and instead making federal judges the final arbiters of abortion law. So in setting aside Roe, the current court has reinstated a true democracy with respect to abortion, by allowing legislatures to conform their laws to the majority will of each state’s citizens.

Unfortunately, strident abortion activists are not willing to acknowledge this truth. According to them, the American people must not be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to do with respect to legalizing abortion. 

They insist that the right to end an unborn life transcends every other consideration.

Deplorably, many of those who subscribe to this view also believe that it’s justified to suppress the viewpoints of those who stand up in defense of unborn lives. Ever since Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority decision in the Dobbs case was leaked in May, a wave of reprehensible attacks have occurred against churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. Shadowy groups with names like “Ruth Sent Us” and “Jane’s Revenge” have stirred up these acts of arson and vandalism with ugly rhetoric, such as a manifesto calling for a “Night of Rage” to take place in the wake of the release of the Dobbs decision. The residences of conservative Supreme Court justices, most of whom are Catholic, have also been subjected to ugly protests, staged by activists who contend that judges are only allowed to hold opinions that align with the demands of the abortion lobby.

Thankfully, at the time of this writing, no deaths or serious injuries have occurred as a result of the pro-abortion violence. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh was targeted for murder in early June by an armed man who told police after his arrest that the leak of the Dobbs draft opinion was one of his primary motivations for trying to kill Kavanaugh. It’s important to note that the incitement to potential violence hasn’t been confined to online manifestos by sinister and little-known activist groups. Ever since it became clear late in the last decade that, with the appointments of new conservative justices, a majority of Supreme Court judges might be inclined to overturn Roe, prominent pro-abortion politicians have warned the court not to tamper with the nation’s legal abortion framework. 

Perhaps the most disturbing example of this came in 2020, when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is now the Senate majority leader, publicly threatened two of the new judicial appointees. “I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer blustered in a speech delivered from the steps of the Supreme Court building. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer apologized the next day for his choice of words, and he has repeatedly insisted that he didn’t mean to incite violence with his intemperate language, claiming that he meant only that there would be “political consequences … if the Supreme Court, with the newly confirmed justices, stripped away a woman’s right to choose.” Perhaps we should take the majority leader at his word, but the fact remains that he threatened by name Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who are judges, not politicians. 

More fundamentally, the very fact that Schumer felt justified in employing such over-the-top rhetoric highlights the profoundly anti-democratic posture of the abortion-rights movement, including its most prominent current political supporters — Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. All three Democratic leaders have publicly declared that any weakening of America’s constitutional framework of legal abortion must never be allowed to occur, under any circumstances. 

And in advance of Dobbs, they joined forces to push for passage of the draconian and misnamed Women’s Health Protection Act, a pro-abortion bill that would mandate abortion on demand nationally right up to the time of birth, in hopes of forestalling pro-life state legislatures from enacting future laws restricting abortion. Only the Senate filibuster has so far thwarted them from securing this goal. 

Pro-abortion politicians at the state level have been similarly hostile to the expression of pro-life viewpoints. Alongside their own extravagant denunciations of the content of Alito’s draft Dobbs opinion, they have committed to do everything in their power to advance abortion rights. 

Their hostility to the pro-life pregnancy centers that are now under attack has also been striking. In New York state this has been particularly evident. Instead of rallying in defense of the Buffalo-area pregnancy center that was the target of a June 7 firebombing, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature moved forward on June 13 with legislation that subjects all of the state’s pro-life pregnancy centers to an unwarranted 18-month investigation of their operations by the state’s health commissioner. This probe is an obvious bid to shut down these centers, on the alleged grounds that they limit women’s access to “accurate, non-coercive health care information” and “a comprehensive range of reproductive and sexual health care services.”

Similar political efforts intended to interfere with the operations of pro-life centers have been undertaken previously in California and other stridently pro-abortion jurisdictions. It’s utterly shameful that these pro-life facilities, which exist solely to serve both mothers and their babies, both before and after birth, are being targeted in this manner by politicians. In keeping with America’s democratic protections of freedom of speech and action, these pregnancy centers, which selflessly model the pro-life movement’s “Love Them Both” approach, should be allowed to provide their services without state intrusions that are transparently motivated by the desire to impose a pro-abortion ideology.

Ahead of our Independence Day celebrations this year, American Catholics can unite prayerfully in support of our democratic freedoms, particularly as they apply to the issue of abortion. We also need to pray fervently that the anti-democratic threats by abortion extremists, of increased violence in the wake of the release of the Court’s final Dobbs decision, do not come to pass.

God bless you, and God bless America!

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