It often happens that many who consider themselves pro-life, but vote for pro-abortion politicians try to justify their decision by claiming that the law really means little when it comes to reducing abortion numbers. The key, they say, is in providing support for pregnant women so that they don’t feel the need to make the abortion decision in the first place. In a joint statement for the USCCB, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Murphy explain why Roe v. Wade and abortion laws do matter (h/t: Jay):
First, the Court’s decision in Roe denied an entire class of innocent human beings the most fundamental human right, the right to life. In fact, the act of killing these fellow human beings was transformed from a crime into a “right,” turning the structure of human rights on its head. Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an “intrinsically unjust law” we are morally obliged to oppose (see Evangelium vitae, nos. 71-73). Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life.
Second, the many challenges to the Court’s error since 1973 have borne fruit, leading to significant modifications of Roe. Most recently in its ruling on partial-birth abortion, the Court upheld a ban on an abortion procedure for the first time in 35 years, and acknowledged that abortion takes a human life and does serious harm to women.
Third, Roe itself enormously increased the annual number of abortions in our society. The law is a teacher, and Roe taught many women, physicians and others that abortion is an acceptable answer to a wide range of problems. By the same token, even the limited pro-life laws allowed by the Court since Roe have been shown to reduce abortions substantially, leading to a steady decline in the abortion rate since 1980. Bans on public funding, laws requiring informed consent for women and parental involvement for minors, and other modest and widely supported laws have saved millions of lives. Laws made possible by reversing Roe would save many more. On the other hand, this progress could be lost through a key pro-abortion proposal, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which supporters say would knock down hundreds of current pro-life laws and forbid any public program to “discriminate” against abortion in providing services to women.
Along with helping to reduce abortion numbers, overturning Roe v. Wade is also essential to preserving America as a free nation. American law, American freedom was built upon the foundation that all men have the God-given right to life. Given our 30+ year history of denying that right to tens of millions of innocent human beings, I’d say our freedom is in serious jeopardy.
The bottom line, folks, is that both approaches are essential in building a culture of life. We must work to protect the right to life of the unborn while also providing support for pregnant women and changing hearts and minds about abortion and human sexuality.
Our Bishops are doing an excellent job this year, by the way. Bishop Hermann has a wonderful column in the St. Louis Review urging voters to Save Our Children! And Bishop Finn has been busy in KC offering help to Catholic voters which includes a joint pastoral letter with Archbishop Naumann of KC, Kansas on Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens, a statement on FOCA and its supporters and answering whether Catholics can support a pro-abortion candidate.