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Roe v. Wade: Could the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs case come Monday?

Security fencing was erected outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the leak of a preliminary draft opinion in a pivotal abortion case that could decide the fate of the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide. / Katie Yoder

Washington D.C., May 14, 2022 / 05:25 am (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s scheduled release of one or more opinions on Monday is fueling speculation that it may issue a decision then in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

May 16 marks the first “opinion issuance day” since the leak of a draft opinion in the case that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

When the court announced that Monday would be a decision day, “I think everybody’s ears kind of perked up,” Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel for the pro-life group Americans United for Life, told CNA.

While the court traditionally waits to issue decisions in bigger, more controversial cases like Dobbs until the end of the court’s term in late June or early July, the leak of the draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., threw into question that expectation.

In the wake of the bombshell leak, first published by Politico on May 2, several pro-life leaders and organizations have said they believe the court ought to come out with the decision quickly.

"The unprecedented leak is an attempt by the Left to corrupt the Court’s deliberation process and bully the justices into changing their majority opinion,” Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told CNA. “For the sake of the Court's own integrity, it would be appropriate to release the opinion as soon as possible.”

In response to the leak, abortion activists protested outside of justices’ private homes and attacked Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. At the same time, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. stressed that the “work of the Court will not be affected in any way” by the leaked draft, which the Supreme Court confirmed is authentic. 

Roberts and the eight other justices met in private for the first time since the leak on Thursday, May 12, the Associated Press reported. Justices could decide Dobbs on Monday, legal experts say, or they could decide any of the 37 other cases that have yet to be ruled on before the court breaks for summer recess.

Glenn of Americans United for Life outlined several possible outcomes. Justices might want to get the decision out of the way now, as people protest outside their homes, and attempt to diffuse the situation. She could also see justices waiting until June to show that the pressure and tactics directed at them do not influence the court’s behavior. 

Justices could also still be working on the main opinion or concurrences and dissents.

“It could be just a timing issue,” Glenn suggested. “They can't release it on Monday because it's not finished.” 

Monday is the earliest scheduled date for the justices to issue a decision in Dobbs. The latest date they could release it is more uncertain.

While the last Thursday of June usually marks the end of the Supreme Court’s term, Glenn said that, “depending on how all of this changes their schedule or if there are a lot of concurrences and dissenting opinions — more than normal — they very easily could go into July.”

Lauren Muzyka, an attorney who serves as the president and CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, outlined two possible outcomes regarding the timing of the decision.

She told CNA that the leak, “rather than forcing the Justices to move more quickly than they’d originally intended, might actually convince them to stick to their ground and maintain their original schedule, simply out of principle.”

“Still, knowing that Justice Alito and his family have been taken to a secure location for protection right now and other Justices have been given increased security as well,” she added, “I also wouldn't be surprised if Chief Justice Roberts made a decision to push it out Monday.”

Muzyka said that, regardless, the pro-life movement’s mission remains the same: empowering women to choose life.

“Even with the furor out there at the moment — pregnancy centers and churches being vandalized plus violent commentary on social media and television — that’s not going to stop the pro-life movement from reaching mothers in crisis with the news that they have options, resources, and they deserve better than abortion,” Muzyka concluded. “And I don’t think it’s necessarily going to move the Supreme Court to change direction, either.”

How do we know if we are listening to God's voice, or our own? This author has some advice

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. / Carrell Jamilano

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 05:04 am (CNA).

Discernment is hard. How do we know if the voice we’re listening to is God’s, or our own? 

What is Roe v Wade? Six things to know.

Capitol police placed fencing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, during oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in an attempt to separate rallies by abortion supports and pro-lifers. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Denver Newsroom, May 13, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

You’ve heard of Roe v. Wade — and you’ve probably heard that the U.S. Supreme Court may be about to overturn it. 

But what exactly is Roe v. Wade, and why does it matter whether it’s overturned?

Here’s what to know:

Roe v. Wade was a legal case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in January 1973. 

“Wade” refers to Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. “Roe” is the pseudonym of Norma McCorvey, a Louisiana woman who had filed a lawsuit in Texas to get an abortion, which was illegal at the time. Despite her involvement in the case, McCorvey never actually got an abortion. In fact, she eventually converted to Protestant Christianity and later to Catholicism, and engaged in pro-life ministry in her later years. 

In their opinion, the justices ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. The legal reasoning centered on the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which the court interpreted as conferring a "right to privacy" for women seeking abortions. 

The makeup of the court at that time, which issued the ruling by a 7-2 vote, was entirely male — the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, would not arrive at the court until eight years later. 

Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in the case 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.”

What effects has Roe had since the decision was made?

The immediate effect was the legalization of abortion throughout the entire United States, until roughly the end of the second trimester. Abortion was already legal in some form in several states — such as Colorado, Hawaii, and New York— before Roe changed the status quo for the entire country. 

Abortion rates in the U.S. rose in the years following Roe, peaking at an estimated 1.4 million per year in 1990. In 2019, the latest year government figures are available, there were an estimated 630,000 abortions. 

Since Roe and Casey, every state regulation on abortion that has been proposed or passed has had to be viewed through Roe’s legal framework of “strict scrutiny”, and later through Casey’s “undue burden” standard. Dozens of state regulations have been struck down by courts over the years for being out of step with Roe, and thus unconstitutional. 

Is there a chance Roe could be overturned now?

Yes. A case currently before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a 2018 Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case centers on the question of “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, making it a direct challenge to Roe and Casey. 

What will happen if Roe is overturned?

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the question of abortion legalization or restriction will return to the states. State policy would vary widely on the question of abortion, with the practice being automatically outlawed in several states, and explicity protected in others. 

If Roe is overturned and women who would have chosen an abortion are unable to get them, many more babies and mothers will need care than previously. Pro-life organizations are marshalling resources to offer support. 

That said, abortions will continue in states which have passed laws to protect access to it, and some states, such as Colorado, have explicitly positioned themselves as destinations where women can travel from states with restrictions to avail themselves of abortions.

The federal government under President Joe Biden has attempted preemptively to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, which if passed would supersede state-level pro-life laws, but such attempts so far have failed. 

What will happen if Roe is not overturned?

There are a number of scenarios that could come to fruition that involve Roe remaining in place. 

If the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe, but upholds Mississippi’s 15-week ban, other states with a court-blocked 15-week bans, such as Arizona, could see their laws come into effect. Additionally, other pro-life states may pass 15-week bans now that they are constitutionally allowed to do so. 

​​If the Mississippi law is struck down, and Roe and Casey are affirmed, it would be a devastating setback for the pro-life movement, which has pinned its long-term legal strategy on someday having a “conservative” supermajority on the Supreme Court, as is the case today.

So… How likely is it that Roe v. Wade will be overturned? 

A leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been confirmed to be genuine though not necessarily final, suggests that the court is indeed poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The draft, reported on May 2 after being leaked to Politico, shows the court siding with Mississippi, as well as a thoroughly repudiating Roe and Casey.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito writes in the 98-page draft document, which is labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The Politico news report said that four justices had joined Alito in the majority, three are preparing dissents, and Chief Justice John Roberts — often a swing vote — had not yet settled on a side.

Whatever the court ultimately decides, the consequences for the country will be enormous.

Colombian bishops lament court's approval of assisted suicide

null / HQuality/Shutterstock.

Bogotá, Colombia, May 13, 2022 / 15:59 pm (CNA).

The Colombian Bishops’ Conference said it was deeply pained by the Constitutional Court’s Wednesday ruling decriminalizing assisted suicide, and urged the authorities to make decisions aimed at protecting life "and not its destruction."

Spanish bill would allow girls 16 and 17 to get an abortion without parental consent

Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero speaks after the Council of Ministers, March 3, 2020. / La Moncloa - Gobierno de España via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2022 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

Spain’s coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez intends to propose a bill that would legalize abortion without parental consent for 16 and 17 year old children.

Pilgrims in Fatima offer prayers for peace in Ukraine

Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on May 13, 2022. / Screenshot from Radio Espérance YouTube channel.

Rome Newsroom, May 13, 2022 / 11:36 am (CNA).

May 13 marks the 105th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary in Fatima.

Church leaders and scholars to explore St. John Paul II’s ‘natural law legacy’

Pope John Paul II in 1996. / Vatican Media

Warsaw, Poland, May 13, 2022 / 08:57 am (CNA).

Speakers will include papal biographer George Weigel and Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk.

The modern miracle of Fatima

Image of Our Lady of Fatima in Lisbon's cathedral. / Kate Veik/CNA

Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

While men in the trenches of World War I faced chemical gasses and industrialized weaponry that wrought unprecedented human carnage, an Angel of Peace appeared with a message.

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Edward Deliman

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Edward M. Deliman, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia.

The resignation was publicized in Washington on May 13, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

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German bishops' president asserts 'the need to develop the Church's teaching'

Bishop Georg Bätzing at the closing press conference of the spring plenary meeting of the German bishops’ conference. / Martin Rothweiler/EWTN.TV.

Denver Newsroom, May 12, 2022 / 17:23 pm (CNA).

The president of the German bishops’ conference has expressed his belief that Church teaching needs further development, in response to critique of the synodal path in that country.