This evening, in an unprecedented leak, Politico broke the news, based on Justice Alito’s majority opinion, that the U.S. Supreme Court intends to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Here, I am not planning on making my thoughts known on the legality of such an action, how it will affect the American political landscape, or any other political question. Suffice it to say, as a Catholic (and one who was adopted to boot), I think that this is a wonderful, life affirming decision, and I am deeply grateful that we can take a step towards ending the murder of the unborn.
What I would like to talk about is how Catholics, and hopefully all Christians, can respond to this landmark decision (should it come to pass). To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, the mistake that both liberals and conservatives make in regards to Catholic perception is that liberals want pity without responsibility, and conservatives want responsibility without pity.
For many women, abortion is done out of desperation. This does not excuse the murder of the unborn, but desperation is not something that we should discount or mitigate. For many, particularly the poor and single, motherhood is terrifying. If you can barely take care of yourself, how can you take care of a child?
This is where Catholics must take an active role. If we are to ban abortion, as we should, we also need to support the mothers and children that are born – regardless of their situation. If a child is born out of wedlock, both the mother and child deserve care and love. There is no excuse, no matter the situation, that allows for the callous discarding of either mother or child.
If we are to encourage a truly caring and equitable society, as we should, moving to ban abortion is only the first and most basic step. It is also the easiest. The next steps that need to be taken need to come from a place of compassion, love and care for all living life, as hopefully support for pro-life legislation did as well. For women who are struggling to give care to their children (or any parent, for that matter), it is not the duty of a Catholic to judge how they ended up in this place of precariousness, or how the parental actions led them to need help. No. It is simply the duty of the Catholic, and of all Christians, to provide love, support and, crucially, material support.
For children that are born into desperate situations, or tenuous ones, or challenging ones, or good ones, or loving ones, or any situation at all – they deserve and are entitled to the support of the entire Christian community.
If this decision truly does get enacted, and this wonderful change does happen in our society, we, as Catholics, must remember that this is only the first step. Care for the downtrodden, the poor, the defenseless and all those on the margins of society. Now is not the time to celebrate victory – if victory has even truly been achieved. Now is the time to take the truly Christian approach and help those in need.