Pro-life supporters demonstrate before the U.S. Supreme Court building Dec. 1 as the judges heard oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. PHOTO BY KATIE YODER/CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

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Supreme Court decision hailed as victory for the right to life

A long-awaited day has arrived for pro-life supporters as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.

With a 6-3 decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, the court upheld a Mississippi court’s decision in favor of that state’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court decision, announced June 24, returns the issue of abortion to individual state legislatures to determine whether or not abortion will be legal in their states or to what extent restrictions would be placed on the procedure.

“I’m grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court,” said Archbishop George J. Lucas. “This is something that many people have been hoping for and praying for ever since Roe v. Wade was decided some decades ago.

“The decision’s a major victory for unborn children, their mothers, and really for all of us,” he said. “This brings us back, in terms of constitutional law, closer to our founding where we state that we have a respect for life – it’s a basic right.”

Paige Brown, statewide pro-life activities coordinator with the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), said Roe v. Wade was “an egregious decision that allowed legal discrimination against a class of human beings, so we are very happy that the Supreme Court is returning the issue to the state so they will be able to protect all human life, including pre-born life.”

The archbishop said he believes Nebraska is in a good position to establish and protect a right to life for the unborn should Gov. Pete Ricketts, as is expected, call for a special session of the Legislature to consider a bill to ban abortion.

Earlier this year, pro-life senators were unable to overcome a filibuster when considering LB933, the Human Life Protection Act, a “trigger bill” introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht, that would have outlawed abortion in Nebraska in the event the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

A new bill would likely be very similar to the earlier one, said Marion Miner, associate director for pro-life and family with the NCC.

But by itself, making abortion illegal will not be enough to build a culture of life, he said. “The challenge with converting hearts and minds, I think honestly, is a trust issue.

“If you get on social media or the email chains of the groups that support abortion and read the materials that they put out, the stuff that you see on these forums encourages people to think about pro-life organizations, the Catholic Church and others as anti-woman organizations that really don’t care about people …. That’s the narrative that you see,” Miner said. “One of the challenges that we have is demonstrating that that’s not true.”

“A change in law must be accompanied by cultural changes, especially in support of women, men and families facing difficulty,” Brown added.

“Those needs will be as present as ever,” she said, “but the pro-life movement and the Church are ready to embrace women in their difficulty.”

Archbishop Lucas points to the Catholic Church’s long history of support for people in need, including abortion-vulnerable women in unexpected pregnancies, through Church-affiliated organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, food pantries and other services.

And Omaha-based organizations such as Essential Pregnancy Services, Bethlehem House and Mater Filius have for years assisted with counseling, health care, housing, education, financial support and other support services to help women choose life and to meet their families’ needs following the birth.

“They have a proven record and a lot of really good experience helping women who are in need,” the archbishop said.

“There’ll be a call in the community for greater support for the work they do. If they have to expand their efforts, or new facilities or programs are needed, I’m confident that the leadership of those organizations are well positioned to understand what would be needed,” he said.

“We hear that there are many women who, out of desperation, turn to abortion for a solution to what they see as an insurmountable problem in their life,” the archbishop said, “and that desperation is not going to go away with the Supreme Court decision.”

That’s why the Archdiocese of Omaha also is gearing up to increase its outreach to women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies by signing on to the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This initiative aims to position Catholic parishes as a key source of support by providing compassionate accompaniment and access to parish and community resources during pregnancy and beyond.

“It’s clear to many people that the Church has spoken out against abortion, and we will continue to, but that’s not the end of our interest in the woman and her child,” Archbishop Lucas said.

“We would hope that any woman, any family that is facing a difficult challenge or finding themselves in what they would consider a desperate situation, that they would think, ‘I can turn to my Catholic neighbors and at least share my struggle, and maybe I don’t have to be alone.’”

“But the first step is for us in the Church to make sure we have our own minds and hearts in the right place,” he said.

“I would encourage all of us to pray at this very important moment in the history of our country and ask God to help us see what his plan is for us, as his people, to share the light and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our brothers and sisters … and to be attentive to those who are in need.”