The promises and perils of a post-Roe America

Now that Roe no longer guarantees abortion on demand, what is next for America and pro-lifers to help the cause of life?

Pro-life demonstrators in Washington celebrate outside the Supreme Court June 24, 2022, as the court overruled the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision. (CNS photo/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

After 49 years, God has granted our petition. We have offered so many rosaries, so many prayer services, and so many Masses. To these we have added countless hours of work – protests, litigations, research, technological innovations, and dollars. Praise God, the monstrous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that contradicted the very purpose of law has finally been overturned. The law should protect its citizens, not sanction their destruction. A lethal error has at last been rectified.

In striking down Roe, the Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has, in one sense, rewound America to 1972, when abortion was still part of the democratic process. Its legality was then debated in state legislatures, with citizens actively involved through the primary process and letter-writing campaigns. The day before Roe was decided, abortion was illegal in 30 states, and in the 20 others, it was limited to varying degrees.

With Roe overturned, abortion will again be treated differently in each of the 50 states. In anticipation of Roe’s demise, just this year Florida has banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Texas and Idaho have banned it after six weeks, while Oklahoma has outlawed abortion from fertilization. All these states allow for exceptions in very limited cases, and all stipulate the woman who procures the abortion cannot be prosecuted, but any doctor or other facilitator involved in the act can be prosecuted. Other states will probably follow suit soon.

Meanwhile, blue states have hurried to codify abortion laws. In 2019, for example, New York passed the Reproductive Health Act that allows abortion in the state for any reason and allows for tax money to finance them via state Medicaid. Since the leaking of the Dobbs opinion, Governor Kathy Hochul and others have decided this comprehensive abortion sanction is not good enough; they want to amend the state constitution to enshrine abortion as a civil right for all New Yorkers.

With all this as a backdrop, now that Roe no longer guarantees abortion on demand, what is next for America and pro-lifers to help the cause of life?

First, we must recognize that the battle against abortion will last for another 49 years, if not longer. So we have to pace ourselves for a marathon. Part of the reason is the nature of this struggle: “life vs abortion” is a battle between good and evil, which has raged since Adam’s sin and will continue to rage until the end of time. There will always be evil in the world – murders, thefts, adulteries, abortions – as long as there are people. But we cannot tolerate any of these evils being called good, as abortion has been. Given the nature of this struggle, then, we first and foremost have to rely on God and continue the prayer campaigns with as much earnestness as before Roe. Victory over evil is only possible through Him.

Second, we must continue the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., each January as an opportunity to bring together all pro-lifers, who are now fighting slightly different battles in different places, in common cause. No longer would we have to terminate the March at the Supreme Court in protest of Roe. Rather, we can stop at the Capitol Building with new goals: that Congress outlaw abortion on the federal level and that preborn babies be recognized as protected persons under the law.

Third, the pro-life movement must continue to focus on its core issue, one that appeals across generations, geographies, and ethnicities: the humanity of the unborn child. We exist as a movement to defend the most fundamental right, the right to life, for those who cannot defend it for themselves. Improvements in ultrasound and incubation technologies continue to make our argument easier and easier. All rejoinders from the other side – slogans such as “my body, my choice”; “reproductive health”; “women’s rights” – are distractions from the real issue. We must respond not on their terms, but ours. They must confront the humanity of the child waiting to be born. After all, every abortion supporter is an abortion survivor.

Fourth, office holders and office seekers in the Republican Party will not only have to pledge their pro-life bona fides, but they will also have to articulate cogently how exactly they will promote legislation to protect life in the womb. Moreover, they must do so in a way that will attract moderates who may support abortion in some instances. Those who cannot do this should not receive the party’s nomination for state or federal office.

Fifth, with Roe overturned, a new front of the battle for life is now opened. The first front where we have been fighting will still be contested: convincing others of abortion’s evil. The second front we will have to fight now is where abortion is illegal to any degree, we have to double down with providing resources for those women facing crisis pregnancies. Countless entities like this exist throughout the country. We will need more, and they will have to be better supplied and supported by all pro-lifers. Whereas ultrasound machines have been used to convince abortion-minded women to bring their children to term, now is the time to build more of what I will call Gianna Houses, homes for unwed mothers to have their babies and then live in for a while as they get back on their feet. Such endeavors are huge investments in time, money, and aggravation, dealing with everything from local zoning laws to disgruntled neighbors. But if we are serious that we want to make abortion unthinkable, then we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Sixth, and related to this, pro-lifers have to continue to make the argument that to be pro-woman is to be pro-life. Abortion does not liberate women; it entraps them. Today, with some abortion supporters somehow confused over what a woman is, emphasizing that motherhood is the essence of femininity is a common sense, and winning, approach. Those who have subscribed to contradictory terms as “pregnant persons” or “chest feeding” deny the essence of what it means to be a woman. Such patently silly talk will drive some disaffected women to seek fellowship with other political groups. Pro-lifers should be ready to greet them through purchasing television and internet advertising that showcases young, happy moms who know that to be a woman is to be a mother.

Seventh, and finally, there is the problem of what to do in blue states where a vast majority of the population supports abortion. We cannot throw up our hands in surrender. Rather, our model has to be the pre-Roe pro-lifers who worked very hard to get pro-life legislators into primaries and then into the general elections. In areas where the voting population is mixed, we have to do the same: encourage loyal, pro-life Americans with the needed charism to run for local office. Pro-lifers are unlikely to win the governor’s seat in New York or California, but we can try to recapture the statehouses to pump the brakes on unlimited abortion license in those states.

The road ahead is difficult, yet full of promise, especially as it follows our long desired and long petitioned goal of overturning Roe. We are right to rejoice in that victory today. But now we must return to fight a new war in the army of Christ the King. We received the sacrament of confirmation for precisely this purpose: to have the grace to fight for Christ. So let’s keep praying and be ready to play the hero’s part as the pro-life movement enters a new, uncharted phase of its existence.


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About David G. Bonagura, Jr. 22 Articles
David G. Bonagura, Jr. teaches at St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York. He is the author of Steadfast in Faith: Catholicism and the Challenges of Secularism. and Staying with the Catholic Church: Trusting God's Plan of Salvation.

15 Comments

  1. The idea of continuing the March to the Capital is great for multiple reasons, not the least being that our peaceful marches will finally defuse the narrative by leftist America that conservative America is defined by January 6th, which they treat as the equal of Pearl Harbor.
    And post Roe America is now going to make it impossibly hard for all the wimpy Catholic leaders who have been doing nothing by taking refuge in “Well, we don’t like abortion, but it’s the law of the land after all.”

  2. Marching in Washington would be ridiculously obtuse. With the overturning of Roe, which the March in Washington was all about, efforts now must turn to each state. It’s less glamorous, for sure, but that was the point, wasn’t it? Now Cupich needs to march on Springfield. Tobin on Trenton. McElroy on Sacramento. Gregory on DC City Hall. … oh my, sadly I’m almost laughing. Maybe the cardinals’ buddy Biden will help them.

    • Do you seriously think there will not be legislative battles at the national level? And at the executive level? The power to give aid to states that still provide abortion can still be implimented by the Feds, not to mention their international support, all of which was also what the March was “all about.”

  3. As we celebrate this victory and prepare to continue the fight against abortion in the legislative arena, let us show some gratitude toward the flawed man who appointed three of the Justices who overturned Roe (and none of the dissenters). He is not my preferred candidate for 2024 right now, but it is past time for many haughty Catholics, who rightly or wrongly agree disagree with him on other issues and abhor his style, to give credit where it is due.

    • Well said. He had the guts to actually do what he said he was going to do. And he did what other Republicans talked about doing but never did. Give credit where credit is due.

      • Couldn’t agree with you more…. Thank God for Pres. Donald J. Trump!! I pray he will run again in 2024 and is President again… Make America Great Again I pray.

  4. The end of Roe v. Wade means the end of the Democrat/Commie party. As in ancient times, pagans derived their powers from human sacrifice, often killing infants. Democrats derived their demonic powers from the mass slaughter of unborn babies. This power will decline and time goes on. It will decline because the Spiritual battle will favor Life. Nevertheless, the battle will continue, as the essay has outlined.

  5. A battle was won it took 49+ years but the “war” continues on several fronts. Blue states where they will and are pushing to become the abortion mill capitol of the USA (maybe even thee world in some cases). The battle will continue for the hearts and souls of those who still believe it is right to abort a child for reasons that include everything from gender to potential/possible birth defects, autism, etc.. The battle will continue with those who have a false understanding of “freedom” that is determined by selfishness instead of selflessness. The war is not won, this battle long and hard was, now it is time to re-commit to the war for LIFE, the anit-lifers vs. the pro-lifers at every stage of human deveopment. .

  6. This is just the beginning.
    ALL the coverage I have seen outside of CWR & Crisis has been painting a picture of how tough it will be now on women who thought they could kill their children at home and who now might have to drive a few hundred miles to do it. At the same time pro-lifers are painted as, well, just terrible people – if you are approached by a ‘journalist’ and asked your opinion of the ruling, please be VERY careful how you answer, and it might not be a bad idea to have a recorder on you just in case.

    Or maybe you can just say – if it’s growing it’s alive.

  7. We need to call out anyone who uses the term ‘anti-abortion” by pointing out that abortion supporters are “anti-life”

  8. Following the teaching and hallowing of the angelic throng at the Nativity of Jesus Christ, we Catholics affirm, ALL PEOPLE OF GOODWILL whether Christian or not, wish to be addressed in terms of life and truth AND THEY WELCOME IT WHEN IT COMES TO HAND – not in terms of death and lies.

    ‘ As never before, with this Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, Catholic bishops need to publicly call out all politicians, both Catholic and non-Catholic, for their complicity in crimes against humanity. And they must refuse Holy Communion to politicians who self-identify as Catholic Christians. ‘

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/beyond-dobbs-reflections-on-abe-lincoln-roe-and-the-rights-of-the-unborn/?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=usa

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