If this court were to reverse Roe, it would basically mean that the court is saying abortion is an issue that should be regulated by state legislatures, just like any other crime or any other medical procedure. It should not have been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, where you had nine individuals setting abortion policy for the whole entire country.
So if it is returned to the states, then we have about 12 or 13 states, including my state of Louisiana, that have passed state constitutional amendments saying that there would be no constitutional protection for abortion, and abortion would become unlawful. It would become criminal for a doctor to perform an abortion. The woman would never be criminalized, because the law would view the woman as the second victim of abortion. That’s because it's such a risk to her, and often she is coerced by others into the abortion clinic. Those constitutional amendments would go into effect immediately.
All of the hard-core blue states, however many of them there are, would likely have liberal abortion laws. Sadly, it would be abortion on demand, if that’s the will of the people in those states.
The other states in the middle would debate abortion law in their state legislatures. Women who were hurt by abortion would tell their stories. Doctors and nurses that were coerced by medical boards to participate in abortion against their will, against their conscience, against their faith, would tell their stories. So you would see a lot of debate, and a lot of people coming out with their stories.
There’s just a host of ways that this could turn out. But it's going to be a chance for all of us, especially as Catholics, to step up and be there for one another through our churches, through our health services, through pregnancy resource centers, through being there at the kitchen table talking to our own sons and daughters.
Do you believe Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has the potential of being a major turning point for women in the U.S., and the pro-life movement in the U.S.?
Oh, absolutely yes. If this court puts abortion back into the proper stance of being in the democratic process, it will take away that false mask that abortion is just something that the court has to deal with. When it's back in your home court, then legislators and citizens have to step up and say, “OK, what am I willing to do so that I can be of service to my family or to my community?” That's how it should be. It's not easy, but this is what democracy looks like.
This will put us back into that position that Catholics are so good at, which is providing health services, social services. We have food banks, we have Catholic hospitals, we have pro-life ministries for pregnant women. This will be our time to shine, and to tell women that they do have a choice, and they can choose life with all the support that they are entitled to as beloved daughters made in the image and likeness of God.
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?
What we have always done with all of the pro-life groups that I've consulted with is that when we have an initiative and we take it to the legislature or the courts, we lead with the science. We always make sure that we have medical doctors talking about the reality of abortion, or the impact on women's physical and psychological health.
When doctors and scientists discuss abortion outside of the realm of politics, there's no question. This is, of course, a human being. That evidence is just unassailable.
And so, the reality is that because the science is so clear that this is a human being, and because it's becoming more clear that abortion hurts women's health, being anti-science doesn't really become part of the debate. The debate is more about whether an industry can be regulated or not. This has gone from asking whether this is a child or not, to whether we should have an industry that gets to do what it wants to do, with no regulation and no protections for women.
What do you hope for the future of the pro-life movement? How can other faithful women support your efforts?
My hope for the future of the pro-life movement is that it continues to be a movement of love in action. That's what I have seen all along. My vision of the future is a robust, young, innovative movement of people providing the services that are needed on the ground, at the local level.
The Catholic Church talks about the principle of subsidiarity. For example, we hold to the principle that local school boards should be making the decisions for the schools because they know their unique needs. The same should happen in the pro-life movement. It needs to be local and tailor-made to the needs that are in each particular community.
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
I would just encourage your readers to pray for the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and to pray for our nation as this next phase comes into being. Pray that we can debate these important life-and-death issues with civility and respect, by speaking the truth in love. I realize that’s a big ask in today’s political climate.
We in the pro-life movement have to model that. The women who are being deceived by this industry are not the enemy. The women who even advocate for this industry are often post-abortive and wounded. And so I always encourage audiences to have compassion for those advocating for the pro-abortion position, because most of them honestly think that they're helping women by getting them out of a bad situation. They're just not aware of how harmful that escape of abortion is. They know not what they do, and our nation will be blessed if we can learn to forgive and to have compassion.
A post-Roe world is going to require a lot of prayer, and a lot of work. The pro-life movement is made up of extraordinary people who are beacons of God’s light and love. A post-Roe world is an opportunity for us to be love in action.
Kate Olivera is executive producer of Catholic News Agency's podcasts: CNA Newsroom and CNA Editor's Desk. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has worked at Catholic News Agency since 2012; and was previously a staff writer at The Catholic Voice in the Archdiocese of Omaha.