Many are saying the Dobbs case has a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. Do you agree?
Certainly. This case presents this question to the Court: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Under the governing precedents of Roe and Casey, there is a constitutionally protected right to abortion and states may not place an “undue burden” on it before viability. So, the question presented goes to the heart of the matter.
Of course, there are a number of ways the Court could handle this case short of overturning Roe and Casey. For example, it may affirm the constitutional right itself, but articulate a different test than the current “undue burden” test, or it may reconsider the role of viability in evaluating laws restricting abortion.
Many people are talking about what a “post-Roe” country could look like. What could the legal landscape of the United States look like, in terms of abortion law, if Roe is overturned?
A post-Roe legal landscape will better reflect the different views our pluralistic society holds on abortion. If Roe is overturned, all this means is that abortion regulation will again become the province of the states (as it was before 1973) and different states may be more restrictive or more permissive, as their constituencies demand through the legislative process.
We already know that some states, either legislatively or judicially, allow abortion in almost every instance. For example, New York and Illinois have very permissive abortion laws. The state supreme court of Kansas recently found a natural right to abortion in its state constitution which will likely invalidate many of its state restrictions on abortion. Overruling Roe would have little impact on the law in such states.
Some have speculated that since abortion rates are highest in places that already have such permissive abortion laws, if Roe were overturned, the national abortion rate would not be impacted dramatically. Those seeking to promote a culture of life, and a culture that supports women and embraces pregnancy and motherhood, would still have work to do.
Of course, overturning Roe would give more latitude to those states that wanted to protect human life more vigorously than is possible under the Roe/Casey regime. Pro-life advocates would need to persuade legislators and voters of the wisdom of this and to be creative about laws, policies, and initiatives to help women and families welcome children more readily.
Do you ever feel you are treated differently from others because you are a pro-life woman?
Frequently, I experience the presumption that, because I am a professional woman with an advanced degree, I must be pro-choice.
We hear a lot about the pro-life position being “anti-science” or “anti-intellectual.” Do you face this accusation often? If so, how do you respond?
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I do not experience this accusation often. I think many people today, familiar with incredibly detailed ultrasound photos of their siblings or their own children, are reluctant to deny the obvious humanity of the unborn child.
Rather, I experience more frequently the arguments that (1) the pro-life position fails to promote women’s equality (refuted in our brief); (2) women’s healthcare includes abortion access (which depends on the faulty premise that fertility and pregnancy are “diseases”), or (3) the pro-life movement only demonstrates concern for unborn children (which Helen Alvaré has convincingly called the “lazy slander of the pro-life movement”.)
Have you always considered yourself to be pro-life, or was there a moment or event that convinced you of the position?
For me this has always been a very personal matter as I was the child of a “crisis pregnancy” and my husband and I were blessed to adopt our four children, three at birth through private placements by their birth families and the littlest one through foster care.
The reality of the pressures that my mother, and the birthmothers of our children, may have experienced has informed my thinking about how we might best respond generously to women in need to support them and their children.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.