In the next month the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, an abortion case out of Mississippi. While nothing is certain, it is likely that the Dobbs decision will limit or overturn previous rulings like Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and return abortion legislative decisions to the state level.
In anticipation of this ruling, the Archdiocese of Denver has prepared the following FAQ on what this would mean in Colorado and has highlighted some key principles for promoting a culture of life in our archdiocese.
WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND?
Previous Supreme Court rulings (Roe v. Wade; Casey v. Planned Parenthood) prevent states from having abortion bans during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. In 2018, the state of Mississippi enacted a 15-week abortion ban, that has been blocked by lower courts, but the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on the case (Dobbs v. Jackson) in 2021. The question the Supreme Court is considering is whether all pre-viability abortion bans (before 24 weeks) are unconstitutional. It is expected that the Supreme Court will release its decision in June 2022.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL OUTCOMES?
The fact the Supreme Court agreed to take this case would indicate some change is likely coming.
Most legal experts are predicting that the decision will either completely over-turn Roe and Casey, or at least set a new standard for what sort of abortion restrictions can be implemented at the state level.
Regardless, this has the potential to be a major win for life at the national level and allow for more pro-life protections to be passed by state legislatures.
WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR RESTRICTING ABORTION ACCESS IN COLORADO?
Sadly, not a lot. While the decision will likely allow for states to enact stricter abortion restrictions, Colorado’s legislature, as currently composed, is not likely to do so anytime soon.
In fact, the state legislature recently passed HB22-1279, which codified in state law unlimited abortion access for the full 40 weeks of a pregnancy.
Therefore, abortion will remain readily available within the state, and it is likely the abortion industry will continue to promote Colorado as an “abortion destination and sanctuary.”
With that in mind, the Archdiocese of Denver has developed some guiding principles for how we will continue to work to promote a culture of life in Colorado. The list is by no means exhaustive of all the ways Catholics can participate in pro-life causes but nonetheless offers several key areas to focus on as a Church.
LEGISLATIVE & LEGAL
• If Roe v. Wade is overturned or limited, we will praise God for this important national step forward in the effort to save precious lives, while also acknowledging that there is much more work to be done in Colorado in order to promote the intrinsic dignity and sanctity of all human beings, from conception until natural death.
• We will speak out against political and social efforts to promote abortion and will continue to stand against efforts to codify abortion access into state law and the state constitution.
• Legal and legislative efforts regarding abortion can be worthy of our time and participation, but we recognize political efforts alone are not the key to establishing a culture of life in Colorado.
OFFERING LOVE AND SUPPORT FOR MOTHERS, FATHERS, AND FAMILIES
• We will continue to highlight, promote, and support our archdiocesan and parish ministries that offer true care for women and families.
• We will ensure our Catholic parishes are places of welcome for women facing challenging pregnancies or who find it difficult to care for their children after birth, so that any mother needing assistance will receive life-affirming support and be connected to appropriate programs and resources where she can get help.
• We will help Catholics recognize the needs of pregnant and parenting moms in their communities, enabling parishioners to know these mothers, to listen to them, and to help them obtain the necessities of life for themselves and their children.
• We will show Christ’s mercy to anyone who has received or participated in an abortion.
CONVERTING HEARTS AND MINDS
• Recognizing that we live in a state where many people have rejected or are unaware of the truths of the Gospel, we are committed to approaching our society with an apostolic mindset.
• We are mindful that people need to be shown Christ’s love and compassion, before they will be ready to understand and embrace many of the Church’s teachings: “The Church’s primary stance before and unbelieving world is not the imposition of law, which assumes knowledge of its existence and purpose, but the invitation, under an attitude of mercy and hope, into a relationship with the living God and incorporation into the new humanity, to an entirely new way of being and of seeing, one that liberates.” – Page 63, From Christendom to Apostolic Mission
• We will continue to pray for those who receive, perform, promote, or assist with abortions that they will have a profound and total conversion to Jesus Christ and His Church and come to cherish the gift of life all stages. They will come to believe that abortion is unthinkable.