EWTN Catholic Q&A
Overemphasis on Roe?
Question from Elaine on 01-21-2008:

Hello again! I had another thought which I'd like to express today and hope you will bear with me. I am a practicing Catholic and pro-life. This time of year, of course, pro-lifers hold commemorations of the Roe anniversary and it's often mentioned at Mass. I understand completely why this is done and commend those who do this. However, I believe the pro-life movement at times places so much emphasis on Roe that one can be left with two distorted impressions: 1) that legal abortion didn't exist before Roe, when the Supreme Court suddenly foisted it on an unsuspecting nation out of the blue, and 2) legal abortion will disappear if we can just get Roe overturned. As I am sure you know, Judie, the movement to legalize abortion started long before Roe and abortion on demand was already legal in a number of states (New York and California come to mind, but there were others) before Roe. What Roe did was simply to declare access to abortion a consistutional right that ALL states had to recognize. Also, abortion on demand didn't instantly start up everywhere on Jan. 22, 1973. The states whose abortion laws were struck down had to pass new ones and get regulations in place to implement them. What really happened in most places was that abortion providers who were already operating illegally simply set up shop legally and kept doing what they had already been doing. We have been hearing a lot about the 50 million or so babies aborted legally since Roe. I suspect that if Roe had never occurred or been decided the other way, the number of abortions since 1973 would have been much less but it would still have been very high, perhaps 20 or 30 million. And as I am sure you also know, overturning Roe alone would not end abortion. It would simply allow states to make their own legislation and that would mean many more difficult battles. I realize that Roe is a very, very significant event that merits continual commemoration and I would like to see it overturned some day. But I think pro-lifers would do well to remember that abortion existed before Roe and will continue to exist after it is gone. Prayer and other forms of action besides political will always be needed. Thanks again for your time.

Answer by Judie Brown on 01-25-2008:

Dear Elaine

You set forth the precise reason why the only goal worth pursuing is personhood ... total protection for every innocent person from fertilization until natural death.

Thank you!

Judie Brown