Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Murphy

10/23/2008 (6 years ago)

USCCB Pro-Life Activities (www.usccb.org/prolife/)

Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an "intrinsically unjust law" we are morally obliged to oppose. Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life.

Highlights

By Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Murphy

USCCB Pro-Life Activities (www.usccb.org/prolife/)

10/23/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


WASHINGTON, DC (USCCB)- Catholic Online sets forth for our readers the strong, clear and direct Joint Statement issued by Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop William Murphy, the Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which rejects the false dichotomy suggested by some, calling for both opposing Roe v Wade and working to provide further social support for women and children:

"In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2007), the Catholic bishops of the United States urged Catholic voters to form their consciences in accord with the Church's moral teaching. We emphasized that: "Both opposing evil and doing good are essential obligations" (No. 24). Unfortunately, there seem to be efforts and voter education materials designed to persuade Catholics that they need only choose one approach: either opposing evil or doing good. This is not an authentically Catholic approach.

Some argue that we should not focus on policies that provide help for pregnant women, but just focus on the essential task of establishing legal protections for children in the womb. Others argue that providing lifeaffirming support for pregnant women should be our only focus and this should take the place of efforts to establish legal protections for unborn children. We want to be clear that neither argument is consistent with Catholic teaching. Our faith requires us to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision knocked down laws against abortion in all 50 states, fabricating a constitutional "right" to abortion that continues to haunt and divide our society. Within two days of that decision, the Catholic bishops rejected it as "bad morality, bad medicine and bad public policy." We called for a comprehensive response: exploring "every legal possibility" for challenging the Court's tragic error and restoring legal safeguards for the right to life of the unborn child; helping to pass laws to "restrict the practice of abortion as much as possible" in the meantime; and educating society to the need to safeguard the child and support "more humane and morally acceptable solutions" for women facing problems during pregnancy.

Recently, some have called on the Church to abandon most of this effort. They say we should accept Roe as a permanent fixture of constitutional law, stop trying to restore recognition for the unborn child's human rights, and confine our public advocacy to efforts to "reduce abortions" through improved economic and social support for women and families.The Catholic community is second to no one in providing and advocating for support for women and families facing problems during pregnancy. Catholic hospitals, charitable institutions, and thousands of pregnancy aid centers, provide life-saving care and compassionate alternatives to the violence of abortion. We have advocated for universal health care coverage, generous family leave policies, increases in the minimum wage, humane welfare policies for women who are pregnant or caring for young children,expanded funding for WIC and other nutrition programs, and a federal children's health insurance program that includes coverage for unborn children and their mothers. Because some women still feel pressured by economic hardship and lack of support to resort to abortion, our task in this regard is far from over.

These efforts, however, are not an adequate or complete response to the injustice of Roe v. Wade for several important reasons. 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.

Providing support for pregnant women so they choose to have their babies is a necessary but not sufficient response to abortion. Similarly, reversal of Roe is a necessary but not sufficient condition for restoring an order of justice in our society's treatment of defenseless human life. This act by itself would not automatically grant legal protection to the unborn. It would remove an enormous obstacle to such protection,so the people of the United States and their elected representatives in every state could engage in a genuine discussion of how to save unborn children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion. Both approaches to opposing abortion are essential. By protecting the child's life to the maximum degree possible, improving life-affirming support for pregnant women, and changing the attitudes and prejudices imposed on many women to make them see abortion as an acceptable or necessary solution, we will truly help build a culture of life.

In light of a wide range of attempts to interpret Church teaching or imply that outside materials represent the teaching of the Church, we wish to affirm that Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is the teaching that has been approved by the body of bishops of the United States. As we explained in that statement, "We encourage Catholics to seek those resources that are authorized by their own bishops, their state Catholic conferences, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Mitch McConnell says he will wipe out Obamacare with simple 51-vote majority Watch

Image of In the waning days of President Barack Obama's presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is vowing to overthrow his signature legislation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the waning days of President Barack Obama's presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is vowing to overthrow his signature legislation. Health care reform, better known as "Obamacare" has been a cause of disagreement with conservatives and ... continue reading


Moves made to oust John Boehner from Speaker of the House position Watch

Image of Rep. Mark Meadows [not pictured] declared his intention a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess. Described as a rare procedural move, it's by far the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner's [pictured] speakership.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many of his fellow conservatives and Republicans were taken by surprise when North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said he was trying to oust Speaker John Boehner. Many say it's a bad idea, coming just before August recess. Others say such a move could plunge the House of ... continue reading


Ivana Trump hotly denies that ex-husband Donald Trump ever raped her Watch

Image of Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her. "I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is ... continue reading


HILLARY LIED! Inspector General says personal emails contained classified information Watch

Image of Only allowed to review a sample of 40 out of the total of 30,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's private email server, four of those emails contained classified information.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton's personal email account "contained classified information when they were generated," "remain classified today" and "should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system." Those are the findings of the U.S. Intelligence ... continue reading


GLOVES ARE OFF: Donald Trump denounces Bush, Walker and Clinton as being beholden to donors Watch

Image of Speaking east of Des Moines, Donald Trump was most concise in his attack upon Walker. Criticizing the Wisconsin governor's handling of his state's economy, Trump accused him of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At a "free-wheeling" press conference, GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is putting no cap into the money he is going to pour into his campaign. A self-made billionaire in real estate, Trump denounced Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Scott ... continue reading


Nuns vs. Obama: Obama Administration refuses to exempt Little Sisters of the Poor from regulation forcing them to distribute birth control Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The national debate over the Affordable Care Act is heating up. A Romantic Catholic group of nuns, who manage a nursing home around the world called the Little Sisters of the Poor, continue their fight against the law's debatable contraceptive mandate. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Millions upon Millions of United Kingdom aid money funneled to the Clintons Watch

Image of The Clinton Health Access Initiative spends its funds on improving the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Influential people, falling sway to a former United States president - and his wife, with eyes on the White House, it was learned that tens of millions of pounds of United Kingdom aid money has been siphoned through charities linked to Hillary Clinton. LOS ... continue reading


Displeased with 'attack' editorial, Donald Trump bars Iowa newspaper from campaign event Watch

Image of It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends. Displeased with an editorial published in the Des Moines Register, asking him to withdraw from the 2016 presidential race, Donald Trump ... continue reading


FLAT-OUT LIE: Ted Cruz says fellow Republican Mitch McConnell lied about Export-Import Bank Watch

Image of The denouncement was a highly unusual one, even if Ted Cruz has made no effort to disguise the fact that he has called out his fellow Republicans for wrongdoing.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Well-known for his reputation fieriness, Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor last week and said that Mitch McConnell told a "lie." The Texan lawmaker accused the Senate majority leader of deceiving him and the rest of the GOP conference over McConnell's plans for ... continue reading


Destroying the Competition: Will Donald Trump launch a third-party candidacy? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Donald Trump has made numerous headlines during his campaign, so far. He has received criticsm from both the Republicans and the Democrats; it can even be said that the Republican party is "shooing" Trump away, making him an outsider. Is this the smartest move for ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2015 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter