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Roe v. Wade is overturned. What happens next?

Map of the United States. / Shutterstock

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 24, 2022 / 08:26 am (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 issued a 6-3 ruling overturning the seminal decisions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with the immediate effect of returning the question of abortion policy to the states. 

What other effects have already happened or will soon happen as a result of this decision? Here are three quick things you need to know:

  1. In these states, abortion is now completely illegal, with a few exceptions:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Idaho

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • North Dakota

  • Oklahoma

  • South Dakota

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Wyoming

In other states such as Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Georgia, lawmakers have passed pro-life measures such as bans on certain methods of abortion, bans on abortions done for eugenic reasons, and bans on abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Here’s a list of states with “heartbeat” bans (excluding those states that also have a total ban):

  • South Carolina

  • Georgia

  • Ohio

  1. Several states in the country have passed laws to protect abortion within their borders.

Most notably, some states such as Colorado, Washington D.C., and New York allow abortion up until the point of birth. These states, and the District of Columbia, have passed some form of explicit protection for abortion:

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Washington, D.C.

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • Nevada

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • Oregon

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • Washington

In a few cases, state supreme courts has found a “right to abortion” in the state constitution:

  • Alaska

  • Kansas

  • Iowa

  • Montana

In these states, the abortion landscape could be somewhat ambiguous, at least until the state legislatures act to make their statutes clearer:

  • New Mexico: Pre-Roe ban repealed in 2021, but not much else in its statutes governs abortion.

  • Michigan: 1931 pre-Roe ban is still on the books, though a court temporarily blocked it on May 17.

In terms of U.S. territories, the Penal Code of Puerto Rico prohibits abortion except to save the life of the mother. However, in 1980, the decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico in the Pueblo v. Duarte case effectively made abortion legal at any point in pregnancy because of the broad interpretation of “the life and health of the woman” that it mandated. A bill currently under consideration in Puerto Rico would limit abortion to the 22nd week of gestation. 

  1. The decision promises to play a major role in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Abortion has the potential to be a major issue in the November elections in the U.S., but early polling suggests economic problems such as inflation may play more of a role. 

According to a December poll from the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, cited by FiveThirtyEight, just 13 percent of Democrats named abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they wanted Congress to address in 2022. That number could be higher now.

Some Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have already indicated that abortion will be a key issue in this year’s midterm elections, with Biden saying in a statement last week that “we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

There have already been attempts in the Senate to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law, but so far these have failed, with Democrat Joe Manchin joining all the senate Republicans in opposition. Political observers have speculated that even if Democrats abolished the filibuster rule — which requires 60 votes to break a filibuster from the minority — they may still not have enough votes to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade. 

Plus, there is a chance that, in light of the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court could strike down a federal law attempting to codify abortion rights. 

BREAKING: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in historic abortion decision

Breaking News / CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2022 / 08:24 am (CNA).

The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic 6-3 decision released Friday that brings a sudden and dramatic end to nearly a half-century of nationwide legalized abortion in the U.S. 

The opinion, in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is widely seen as the Supreme Court’s most highly anticipated and consequential ruling since Roe. It not only overturns Roe, the landmark 1973 abortion case, but also Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that affirmed Roe.

"Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority," the opinion states. "We now overrule these decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives." You can read the full opinion below.

The Dobbs opinion was written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion. Thomas and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgement. Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

"In overruling Roe and Casey, this Court betrays its guiding principles. With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent," the dissenting opinion reads.

The decision does not ban or criminalize abortion, nor does it recognize an unborn child's constitutional right to life. But in one, breathtaking stroke, the court’s action sweeps away entrenched legal barriers, created and strictly enforced by the federal judiciary, that for decades have blocked states like Mississippi from heavily restricting or prohibiting the killing of unborn children in the womb.

In the process, the decision ushers in a new era of abortion politics in the U.S., with the battleground now shifting to state legislatures. Those democratically elected bodies are now free to debate and regulate abortion as they see fit, as happened throughout American history before the Supreme Court federalized the issue.

“An entirely new pro-life movement begins today. We are ready to go on offense for life in every single one of those legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House," Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life American President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Friday. "Over the next few years we will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives by limiting the horror of abortion in many states."

Speaking from the White House Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden, a Catholic who ardently supports legalized abortion, called the court's opinion "a tragic mistake."

"It's a sad date for the country, in my view, but that doesn't mean the fight is over," Biden said. He called for Congress to codify Roe and the legal framework it created into federal law.

Acknowledging widespread anger and disappointment at the court's decision, Biden called for demonstrations to remain peaceful, saying, "Threats and intimidation are not speech."

Catholic bishops respond

Friday's ruling marks a watershed moment for the Catholic Church and the wider pro-life movement in the United States, which have painstakingly sought Roe’s reversal since the landmark 7-2 decision was handed down on Jan. 19, 1973.

"America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement following the opinion's release.

"This truth was grievously denied by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized and normalized the taking of innocent human life," the Catholic bishops continued. "We thank God today that the Court has now overturned this decision." Gomez is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Lori is chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

"Today’s decision is also the fruit of the prayers, sacrifices, and advocacy of countless ordinary Americans from every walk of life. Over these long years, millions of our fellow citizens have worked together peacefully to educate and persuade their neighbors about the injustice of abortion, to offer care and counseling to women, and to work for alternatives to abortion, including adoption, foster care, and public policies that truly support families," the statement continued.

"We share their joy today and we are grateful to them. Their work for the cause of life reflects all that is good in our democracy, and the pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nation’s history."

Decision conforms to leaked draft

The outcome of Dobbs came as little surprise, since the final opinion substantially resembled a draft written by Alito in February that was leaked to the press on May 2.

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, directly challenged both decisions, because it bans abortion weeks after 15 weeks, well before the point of viability.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division," the opinion states.

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives," the opinion states.

Roberts writes own opinion

In his opinion concurring in the judgment, Roberts called for a narrower ruling.

"The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases," his opinion reads. "A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case."

"My point is that Roe adopted two distinct rules of constitutional law: one, that a woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy; two, that such right may be overridden by the State’s legitimate interests when the fetus is viable outside the womb," he added at another point. "The latter is obviously distinct from the former. I would abandon that timing rule, but see no need in this case to consider the basic right."

This is a developing story.

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1-year challenge: Knights of Columbus aims to raise $5M for pro-life clinics, maternity homes

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Mansfield, Mass., Jun 23, 2022 / 18:12 pm (CNA).

The Knights of Columbus announced Thursday a new goal to donate at least $5 million to pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes across the United States and Canada by June 30, 2023. 

“As Knights, we are called to courage and self-sacrifice,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in a press release. “Standing for life means making personal sacrifices for women and children in need — being willing to give of our time, skills and financial resources, and accepting the fact that the fruits of our labors are often hidden.”

The Knights of Columbus (KofC) is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, with more than two million members in 16,000 councils worldwide. 

The new call for funding of pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes comes at a time when many centers across the country are paying out of pocket for increased security measures and repairs. 

Those new infrastructure developments at centers are a direct result of the many vandalisms that have occurred at pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation. 

The vandalism began in early May when the news outlet Politico leaked a Supreme Court draft ruling showing that the justices may have been prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The new initiative is called Aid and Support After Pregnancy or “ASAP” for short. ASAP aims to raise the money by calling on all U.S. and Canadian councils to increase donations to pro-life pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and “other organizations which give direct assistance to new mothers and/or babies.”

“Mothers and children need our help now more than ever,” Kelly said. 

The KofC has a strong history of supporting pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation. One of the organization's projects is its Ultrasound Initiative, which has provided pro-life pregnancy centers in all 50 states with more than 1,500 ultrasound machines since 2009.

The KofC says its members have volunteered at pro-life pregnancy centers for more than 1.7 million hours collectively from 2018 to 2021. Over that time, the KofC donated more than $18 million in funds and supplies to pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes, according to the press release.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to note the end date of the fund drive is June 30, 2023.

Records of Jews who sought Vatican help during Holocaust to go public

Pope Francis receives a facsimile of a 1919 letter by Adolf Hitler for the Vatican archives during an audience with a delegation of Simon Wiesenthal Center at the Vatican, June 22, 2022. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Relatives of Holocaust survivors and victims can now look through the files of more than 2,700 Jews who sought help through Vatican channels to escape Nazi persecution before and during the Second World War. The archives have gone public on the internet at the request of Pope Francis.

The files constitute “a heritage that is precious because it gathers the requests for help sent to Pope Pius XII by Jewish people, both the baptized and the non-baptized, after the beginning of Nazi and fascist persecution,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, said in a June 23 article for Vatican News.

This heritage is “now easily accessible to the entire world thanks to a project aimed at publishing the complete digitalized version of the archival series,” he said. “Making the digitized version of the entire Jews/Jewish people series available on the internet will allow the descendants of those who asked for help, to find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world. At the same time, it will allow scholars and anyone interested, to freely examine this special archival heritage, from a distance.”

The files are hosted at the website for the Historical Archive of the Secretariat of State’s Section for Relations with States and International Organizations. The archive hosts a photographic reproduction of each document and an analytical inventory that names all those requesting help.

The series pertains to the papacy of Venerable Pius XII, who was elected pope on March 2, 1939, just six months before the start of the war.

Some requests written by Jews or on behalf of Jews sought help to obtain visas or passports, to find asylum, or to reunify families. Others sought freedom from detention or transfers to a different concentration camp. They sought news of deported people or asked for supplies of food or clothes, financial support, spiritual support, and more.

Requests went through the Secretariat of State, and Church diplomatic channels would try to provide “all the help possible,” said Gallagher.

In 2020, when this archive was first opened to researchers, Vatican officials described the documents as “Pacelli’s List,” using the family name of Pope Pius XII to allude to the “Schindler’s List” of the Stephen Spielberg film about a German who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

“Although the two cases differ, the analogy perfectly expresses the idea that people in the corridors of the institution at the service of the pontiff, worked tirelessly to provide Jewish people with practical help,” Gallagher said.

Critics of Venerable Pius XII have said he did not do enough to oppose Nazism or to help Jews during the Holocaust. His defenders point to the pope’s record before and during the war, including significant evidence of Vatican assistance for Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis.

The archive series is 170 volumes in total, about 40,000 digital files. About 70% of the material will be made available immediately, but the final volumes are still being integrated into the collection, the Holy See Press Office said in a June 23 bulletin published in the English, Italian, and Hebrew languages.

Most of the Secretariat of State’s foreign relations files were named for geographical subjects, not for a race or religion of people. The Ebrei Archival Series was named “Jews” or “Jewish people” in Italian because “its aim is to preserve the petitions for help from Jewish people all over Europe, received by the Pope during the Nazi-Fascist persecutions,” the press office said.

In the mid-20th century, the Section for Relations with States was known as the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, equivalent to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Msgr. Angelo Dell’Acqua had a diplomatic role in this office called minutante. He and his office oversaw requests from Jews and sought “to provide the petitioners with all possible assistance,” the archive page says.  Dell’Acqua would later become a cardinal and vicar-general of Rome under St. Paul VI.

Some of the Jews who wrote seeking Catholic aid were baptized Christians, but many were not. Many petitions were written by intermediaries on behalf of Jews.

“Thousands of people persecuted for their membership to the Jewish religion, or for merely having ‘non-Aryan’ ancestry, turned to the Vatican, in the knowledge that others had received help,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher’s article in Vatican News recounted the case of Werner Barasch, a 23-year-old German university student of Jewish background who was baptized in 1938. His historic file has documents from his effort to be released from a concentration camp in Spain. On Jan. 17, 1942 Barasch wrote to an Italian friend and asked her to seek the intervention of Pius XII through the apostolic nuncio in Madrid.

Barasch wrote: “with this intervention from Rome, others had been able to leave the

concentration camp.” He said he had hoped to join his mother who had fled to the U.S. in 1939 “to prepare a new life for me.” He needed the help “of someone from outside” so that the authorities would grant his release.

“There is little hope for those who have no outside help,” said Barasch’s letter.

The Vatican file shows the Secretariat of State addressed the case in a few days’ time and “newly” brought it to the attention of the nuncio to Spain. There is nothing more to the paper trail. Like the majority of cases, the Vatican files say nothing about what happened to Barasch.

“In our hearts, we immediately inevitably hope for a positive outcome, the hope that Werner Barasch was later freed from the concentration camp and was able to reach his mother overseas,” Gallagher said.

This hope was fulfilled. Barasch was a known Holocaust survivor who recounted his story at the age of 82 in a video interview now at the online collections of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. He was released from the Spanish camp a year after his appeal to the Pope. In 1945, he was able to join his mother in the U.S. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Colorado before working as a chemist in California.

“As for the majority of requests for help witnessed by other cases, the result of the request was not reported,” Gallagher said.

About 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

On June 22, Pope Francis received an international delegation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group that counts 400,000 member families in the U.S. The delegation presented to the pope a copy of an original report authored and signed by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler in which he called for the destruction of the Jewish people. The document is dated Sept. 16, 1919, long before the Nazis took power.   

“What began as one man’s opinion would become state policy of Nazi Germany 22 years later, which led to the systematic murder of one-third of world Jewry,” Marvin Hier, founder and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said at the meeting. “This document shows the power of words and is a warning for everyone to take threats of any demagogue seriously.”

Hier noted anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic, which the Simon Wiesenthal Center said confirm “surging anti-Semitism.”

He also used his remarks to criticize a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons, which the Vatican has supported. Hier also criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russia was adopting the same tactics as Hitler’s Germany.

The pope accepted the gift of the historic document, which will be placed in the Vatican Archives.

In his remarks, Pope Francis stressed the importance of “recalling history so it can be of service to the future.”  He denounced anti-Semitic attacks. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he said the 1919 letter from Hitler showed that the Nazi leader did not care about the German people but only about promoting a dangerous ideology.