August 10, 2018
retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has propelled Roe v. Wade more prominently into public
discourse. As the confirmation process for his replacement moves forward, pro-abortion
groups are spreading misinformation about Roe
as they raise alarms about its purported demise.
Novena for the
Legal Protection of Human Life, which began on August 3, urges our
prayer and fasting for the intention that this change in the Supreme Court will
bring our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law
and welcomed in life. It also seeks to dispel the misinformation spread by pro-abortion
groups by sharing accurate facts about Roe.
are a few of those facts:
Roe and Doe legalized abortion through all nine
months of pregnancy
people don't realize that Roe v. Wade
legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe says abortions may not be restricted at all during the first
three months and in the second three months may be regulated only for the
mother's health. After fetal "viability," Roe
allows abortion to be prohibited, but still mandates an exception for the
woman's life or health.
But in Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the Court defined "health" to include "all
factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's
age—relevant to the well-being" of the mother. In most states, this is broad
enough to permit virtually any abortion in the seventh, eighth, or ninth months of
pregnancy if any of these reasons is
If Roe is overturned, the democratic
process—not the courts—will determine abortion policy
Roe, all states permitted abortions
necessary to save the mother's life, and some permitted abortion in additional
circumstances. But Roe deemed any
prohibition on abortion as unconstitutional.
Roe is overturned, policy decisions
about abortion will be made by the citizens of each state through the
democratic process, rather than by courts. Some states will place limits on
abortion, and others will likely have few limits.
abortion license is not widely supported
advocates claim that Roe enjoys broad
public support, and some recent polls seem to provide evidence for this claim. But
most polls don't explain Roe's
extreme abortion license, and some misrepresent it. For example, a 2016 Pew
Research Center poll claims 69% of Americans favor Roe v. Wade and 28% oppose it. But the poll wrongly describes Roe as establishing "a woman's
constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of
pregnancy." The fact is, Roe made
abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy and for virtually any
vast majority of Americans oppose the policy of nearly unlimited abortion
dictated by Roe, and most believe
abortion should not be legal for the reasons it is most often performed. A May
2018 Gallup poll shows that 65% of Americans said abortion should be illegal in
the second trimester and 81% said abortion should be illegal in the last
trimester. A 2018 Marist poll shows that a majority of
women said either that abortion should never be permitted (9% of respondents)
or permitted only in cases of rape, incest, and to save the woman's life (42%).
can easily share these and other facts about Roe with their elected representatives and others by signing up for
the Novena at www.usccb.org/pray.
Greg Schleppenbach is the Associate Director of the Secretariat of
Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For
more information on how you can join in the bishops' pro-life activities, please