by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
God willing, as you receive this week’s Leaven, I will be in Washington, D.C., with many other Kansans participating in the annual March for Life. This year’s march comes at a very critical moment for the pro-life movement.
Each year, the march concludes in front of the Supreme Court building. This year, our prayers for wisdom for our U.S. Supreme Court justices will be even more intense, as they deliberate on a Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Health Care. Observers of the court predict that they will render a decision in June.
The Mississippi Legislature enacted a law that prohibits abortion beyond the 15th week of pregnancy. According to the previous decisions of the Supreme Court, states have the ability to regulate abortion after the child has reached viability, capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb. Viability is currently considered to be achieved around the 24th week of pregnancy.
In reality, however, even after viability, an abortion can still be procured if bearing the child will have adverse effects on the health of the mother. The court has defined a pregnant woman’s health so broadly that abortionists can and do destroy the lives of children well beyond the 24th week.
There are good reasons to hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to uphold the 15-week standard or even give states greater latitude to protect the lives of unborn children.
It is fascinating to read the oral arguments regarding the Dobbs case. There are essentially two arguments made by abortion advocates as reasons why the Supreme Court should rule the Mississippi statute unconstitutional.
First, there is the argument of precedent. Essentially, the Roe v. Wade and the subsequent Casey decision have governed public policy regarding abortion for our nation for almost 50 years. Abortion advocates argued that to overturn or significantly change the court’s current position on the issue of abortion will somehow weaken and diminish confidence in the court.
The second argument asserts that abortion is a fundamental human right and the lives of many women will be negatively impacted if abortion became illegal or access to abortion was limited. It is amazing to claim as a human right the ability to kill innocent children.
Those making the argument to strike down the Mississippi statute claim that the lack of access to abortion will damage women. Essentially, the two arguments converge to make a case that Americans have come to rely upon abortion and without access to abortion women will be handicapped in their professional and personal lives.
Abortion advocates view abortion as the most fundamental and necessary woman’s right. From their perspective, without abortion, women will always be disadvantaged, second-class citizens.
Interestingly, in making the argument for the necessity of abortion, the proponents had to acknowledge the easy availability of contraceptives is not sufficient to protect women from the burden of pregnancy. They admitted that the most widely utilized contraceptives had an overall 10% failure rate and half of those individuals seeking abortion had been using contraception.
From reading the oral arguments, the impression is that pregnancy is imposed upon women. There is no acknowledgment that pregnancy results from choices made by men and women to engage in sexual intercourse.
Of course, there are pregnancies that result from rape, including date rape, where the woman did not have a choice. These cases demand special attention and care. However, pregnancy resulting from rape is not the circumstance for the vast majority of abortions.
Abortion becomes “necessary” in a culture where sexual intimacy is considered a fundamental right. In the United States, after the sexual revolution 60 years ago, it is presumed that two consenting individuals have a right to be sexually active, no matter if they are open — much less prepared — for one of the possible natural consequences of sexual intercourse: the conception of a new and unique human life.
Abortion proponents acknowledge that states could have an increasing interest in the plight of viable unborn children who are able to survive outside the womb of their mothers. However, their rights are always subordinated to the right to abortion.
It is fascinating that abortion has been promoted in our time as a woman’s right. In reality, abortion was the dream child of promiscuous men who desired for women to be always available to them for pleasure.
Abortion is not the friend of women. It is part of an ideology that the liberated woman must become like a man, denying her fertility and the great gift of being able to nurture a new human life within her womb.
Those who believe that abortion is the great solution to unplanned pregnancies have never accompanied a woman who is suffering grief and guilt from the abortion of a child — oftentimes from decades ago.
Authentic feminism advocates: 1) for public policies that support and value the unique maternal gifts of women; 2) for workplace policies that accommodate the needs of pregnancy and child care; 3) for a culture that esteems the unique and irreplaceable role of mothers for a healthy society; and 4) for a society that holds fathers responsible to care for and support financially their children.
Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Dobbs case, the eyes of the nation will be on Kansas in August. Kansans will vote on the “Value Them Both” amendment, the first state referendum on abortion after the court’s decision. On Aug. 2, the people of Kansas will decide whether the Kansas Supreme Court decides abortion public policy for our state or the people of Kansas through their duly elected state senators and representatives make those choices.
Kansas voters will decide whether we become a destination haven for abortion or whether we become the national model for public policies that protect the lives of innocent children and their mothers from the human tragedy that results from each and every abortion.
This past December, I sent a letter to every household of the archdiocese inviting parishioners to make a special one-time donation to our Respect Life ministries. Your gift will help to: 1) communicate the truth about the “Value Them Both” amendment; 2) increase resources for women in the midst of unplanned or difficult pregnancies; 3) provide high quality post-abortion healing and forgiveness ministry for men and women who now deeply regret their participation in abortion; and 4) help our church better serve children that are languishing in the foster care system.
I thank the many who have already made generous donations. I encourage those who have not yet responded to please consider making a sacrificial gift helping our church protect innocent children and surround pregnant mothers with love.
Together, we can make Kansas the national model where women are cherished and innocent children are protected.