Roe Vs Wade Overturned in USA
By Joe Burns & Matty Maslen
Last month, in America, Roe vs Wade was overturned 50 years after it was sworn in, meaning that women no longer have a federal right to abortion. Now, the legality of abortion is a decision for individual states to make.
This comes at a time when restrictions to abortion rights have been increasing in states across US. In 2021 over 100 abortion restrictions were set, surpassing the 2011 record of 89. (https://states.guttmacher.org/policies/). Ultimately, women’s ability to access abortion healthcare in the US has been severely limited.
In the USA this issue has become a touchstone for the ‘culture wars’ that exist there. It would be a tragedy if the issue became as polarised in this country. It is a subject that needs much more open debate within the Catholic community around the world.
All life is precious, but we need to recognise that the reasons for women choosing abortion are complex and various.
We also need to consider what are the social policy actions that actually result in reducing the number of abortions. The evidence is that banning abortion has negligible impact on the number of abortions and only results in putting women in danger from obtaining illegal abortions.
Equally, women’s’ bodies should not be used for political point scoring, which is at the root of a lot of the rhetoric in the USA.
Sr Joan Chittister, a US religious, has put it like this:
Like so many issues it is complicated – and, as a Catholic community, we need to talk about it in a more open way.
One mother in our diocese put it to us like this: “I’ll often be struck by the complexities of an issue and my position will change as my understanding grows. On this issue I am clearer. I wish I lived in a world where abortions weren’t sometimes the best choice for the women who find themselves with a pregnancy they can’t continue with for all sorts of reasons. But that’s not the world we’re in. I want equality and a flourishing life for others, I’d love for that to include every unborn child but I also want protection in law for those women who need to choose otherwise. We don’t care enough for each other as it is, neither here in the UK nor in the USA. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty grow each day and we see no reduction in levels of abuse and neglect of women and children. Creating legislation that claims one thing but does another thing entirely doesn’t reflect the values of my faith.”