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Overturning Roe vs. Wade

06/29/2022 12:08 PM | Ma Christina A Astorga


The overturning of Roe vs. Wade does not stop abortion or even reduce it, if that was the purpose of the conservative members of the Supreme Court. It was a draconian measure, part of the radical agenda of the right conservative, which only created chaos and deepened social fissures. Abortion is a social problem, and unless its social roots are addressed, draconian measures only instill fear and cause violence, but it does not solve the problem.

Any extreme position regarding abortion results in extreme consequences. By criminalizing abortion, the government overextends itself by intruding into deeply personal moral choices of women as free and autonomous human beings. Criminalizing abortion removes the right of women to privacy as instituted in the Constitution. They can now be charged of felony when they take recourse in abortion.  It would only make abortion more dangerous, for criminalizing abortion would not stop women from seeking abortion, but seeking it now without the protection of the law. They would be easy targets of unscrupulous abortions under the cloak of the night.

What is needed are more social amelioration programs that help reduce abortion, by providing women more access to child care, work benefits, employment opportunities, educational benefits. Adoption should be made a more attractive option, by facilitating the adoption process, and providing all the necessary assistance for women to bring their pregnancy to full term, and to ensure the care for their child until he or she is adopted. The goal is to protect the life of the fetus as well as to support women. When women are supported, fetal life is also protected.  When women are left to their devices, as their male partners take flight, or as social institutions neglect them, they are forced to take final recourse in abortion. Opponents of abortion sometimes talk as though the woman is out to “get” the fetus, hell-bent to kill the life in her womb. Only in extreme situations, at the steepest personal and familial cost, do most women opt for abortion as the lesser of two evils.  

John Paul II views abortion as an instance of the domination of the weak by the strong. This, however, is true in a double sense.  Vulnerable life in the womb is attacked, but women are also victims of structural injustice. John Paul II recognizes the fact that some women as acting under duress and as lacking other options. Supporting the lives of the unborn is a special duty of parents, but they require structures of support in order to do that.  Addressing the social roots of abortion is also addressing a sexual culture that is promiscuous and irresponsible, where abortion is resorted to as an easy and ordinary means, and a patriarchal culture where abortion, as Stanley Hauerwas puts it, is the “coercive method men use to free themselves from responsibility to women.”

Jolting the legal system, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade has created problems that would have long-term social consequences. A middle position should have been the re-examination of  Roe vs. Wade, so that it does not degenerate into abortion on demand, but allows abortion with restrictions and exceptions which are reasonable, ethical, and legal.

Christina A. Astorga


  • 06/30/2022 9:22 AM | Dolores L Christie
    Christina, I agree with your comments that the question is much more complicated. Overturning Roe, BTW, did not criminalize abortion. It sent the question back to the states (cowards). Interestingly, the court overturned a New York STATE law on guns, usurping states rights right, before this decision. And we are supposed to believe that is consistent?? Can't wait to see what they do with gay marriage and contraception. Hmm. Wonder if Clarence Thomas will work to overturn inter-racial marriage as well?
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  • 06/30/2022 1:44 PM | SimonMary A. Aihiokhai
    Thanks Christina for this reflection. Following your thought trajectory, I do believe that the Church, which has been a major lobbyist for the undoing of Roe v. Wade ought to see this moment as one saturated with prophetic grace to help nurture a culture of support for women, especially those from historically minoritized communities that will be affected by the Supreme Court's decision. It is one thing to state that one is opposed to abortion, it is another to embrace a radical ethic of life that insists on the dignity of all persons. Our Church has failed in its support to embrace a radical ethic of life in the cultural wars that have defined our nation's history. The fixation on fetus life at the expense of a culture of life for all affected by poverty, racism, sexism, gun addiction, hegemonic posturing of the United States in the world and the region that has caused a migration crises in the Americas beg for an ethical response from all of us who claim the identity of members of the Church.
    As you noted, abortion is not a choice made from freedom but one forced upon women by the social and cultural systems that diminish the lives of women. I add to this by stating that the diminished lives of women also lead to the diminishing of all lives. Our lives are webs of communion that only function well when we uphold the dignity of all. In this case, women's dignities have not been addressed squarely by the Court and by our society, including our Church. Perhaps, this ruling can serve as a wake up call for the Church (all of us) to rethink its stance on these issues. Silence on the Church's part is itself a public stance.
    Thanks for this multi-ponged approach to the social discourse on this decision by the Court.
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