In a long, somewhat rambling piece about the bishops and abortion appearing in the September Commonweal, Peter Steinfels makes a crucial point. It’s been made before by others, but it bears repeating at this moment when the Supreme Court, in the term beginning October 4, is widely expected to reverse or significantly modify Roe v. Wade, its 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe.
Even if the court does that, writes Steinfels, former editor of Commonweal and former New York Times religion writer, it will leave a host of issues requiring “a shift in the culture” in a prolife direction for their final resolution. And that, one might add, will make persuading the Supreme Court to reverse Roe and Casey look like child’s play by comparison. The court has scheduled Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization—the big abortion case everyone is watching—for oral argument December 1.
As someone who devoutly hopes the Supreme Court does indeed overturn those noxious decisions casting the mantle of law—and the Constitution, no less—over abortion, I say amen to that. But suppose Roe and Casey are overturned: what then?
This first phase will continue far into the future as the legislative battles proceed. Meanwhile a second phase will also have begun—a long-range struggle to change minds and hearts and bring about that across-the-board “shift in the culture” in a prolife direction of which Steinfels and others speak.
Both sides in the abortion wars like to cite polls showing that the weight of public opinion favors them, and both are well aware that the results of polls depend largely on how the questions are worded. Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle no doubt got it right when she wrote recently that “outside of the activist base,” most people’s views on abortion tend to be “a context-dependent and contradictory muddle.”
Considering that the major media, Hollywood, and one of our two major political parties have been in the pro-abortion movement’s back pocket for the last several decades, that speaks well for the basic decency of all those muddled Americans.
Half a century ago the U.S. bishops’ conference adopted a Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities that provided dioceses with a practical program of steps to take in fighting the abortion war in its public policy dimension. Without backing off from policy advocacy—it’s still very much needed, after all—mightn’t this be the time for the bishops also to put in place an updated Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities that gives equal, urgent attention to the difficult challenge of shifting the culture in a broadly, inclusively prolife direction? The answer to that should be obvious.
Full story at Catholic World Report.
If women follow the science, they will see that their unborn baby is fully human. If they follow their fear, they will deny it and resort to abortion. Banish the fear, not the baby.
Subsidiarity is the principle of acting at the simplest level. If some bishops would just get out of the way instead of commenting on every political thing, impeding priests in their ministries, and allow the gospel to unfold in people’s lives, then perhaps the life movement would flourish. Everything doesn’t have to be top down corporate or political model.
Why does the article not state which of the two major political parties is in the back pocket of the abortion industry? I’m so confused… terrible reporting. Where do I go to learn the vital fact that the article’s author omitted?
Back pocket, just google it.
I agree with the article for the most part. In the long run it is more important and more difficult to change hearts than to change laws. I think 50 years ago the bishops got it wrong.
Contraception necessarily leads to abortion. Humane Vitae was right, and there’s a 53 year record to prove it, read the document, look at the culture.
Actually, DV, abortions are down from their lowest level in decades, rom the headlines I read. I think contraception prevents abortion.
They are both grave sins. Do not do them.
Be generous and let your babies be conceived and born.
I promise never to abort or contracept. Ok?
How about promising never to have gay sex?
So now you are defending contraception as a good thing YFC? It is not and some forms actually cause an abortion.
Morning after pills cause abortion too but aren’t counted along with surgical abortions. Though surgical procedures are down, babies are still being killed
Contraception and abortion are evil siblings, both are still condemned as grave sin.
Amen Deus Vult. Amen!
How does contraception lead to abortion? The sinful, contracepting couple is committing a grave sin.The availability of contraceptives encourages immoral behavior, and deceives people into thinking that “sex is free.” A married person may try to hide adultery, and a single person may try to hide an illicit affair, by use of immoral contraceptives. But contraception is not always reliable, and the sinful couple may suddenly find out that a baby is on the way– and may decide on abortion, as an “easy fix,” to hide their sins. Or else, a baby may be killed by the contraceptive itself, as many contraceptive methods prevent implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall, after fertilization, or conception.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is lifelong, between one man and one woman only, just as the Bible states. And the married couple must be open to child-bearing, in their conjugal union. Church-approved Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes are also available in many Catholic churches.