This week, the Question of Faith podcast produced by the Young Adult Ministry Office of the Diocese of Cleveland, tackled the topic of what happens next in the diocese if the Roe v. Wade decision is reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The court heard oral arguments late last year on the question and is expected to issue its decision in late June or early July. However, a draft of the brief was leaked recently.
Mike Hayes, director of the Young Adult Ministry Office, and Father Damian Ference, vicar for evangelization and secretary for Parish Life and Special Ministries, co-host the weekly podcast. The current episode was released on May 10 and can be heard here and on other platforms including Spotify. Mary von Carlowitz, director of the diocesan Office for Human Life, was the guest on this week’s episode.
Hayes said pro-life advocates have been waiting for a reversal of Roe v. Wade for nearly 50 years. SCOTUS issued the decision in 1973 saying women have a constitutional right to choose an abortion without excessive government restriction. If the ruling is overturned, the abortion issue would be returned to the states.
Von Carlowitz said if the decision is overturned, Ohio is one of many states poised to implement strict abortion regulations. She said the Cleveland Diocese and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have been guarded in their response to the leak of the SCOTUS draft decision because at this point, it is only speculation.
However, regardless of what happens, von Carlowitz said the diocese is ready to walk with women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
“We’ve been walking with women, men, grandparents and others for many years,” she said. The anticipated SCOTUS decision will provide an opportunity to reteach and to change minds. She said often an unplanned pregnancy is viewed as a crisis.
“We have the resources and have had them for a long time to help. We want to make sure people know we will walk and journey with them through the pregnancy, delivery and afterwards,” von Carlowitz said. She explained that there are resources to help women during pregnancy, to help them with job, housing and childcare, counseling, education and more.
Hayes talked about a friend who teaches at a high school and asked a group of people how many were pro-choice. Most hands went up. There was concern that a pregnant student would be asked to leave school and that there was a shortage of resources to help. His friend assigned the group a research project, telling them to gather information on what resources are available to pregnant women and teens. She also busted the myth that pregnant students would be removed from school.
“They were amazed at how many resources were available,” Hayes said.
Von Carlowitz said that’s why it’s important to educate people and spread the word so people who need the help would know where to turn. “We need to be sure people can connect with the resources. They should be able to reach out within their own community,” she added.
The Office for Human Life is updating its extensive list of resources that offers information on pregnancy, counseling, human trafficking, post-abortive care, housing, financial assistance, employment assistance, childcare and more.
When faced with an unexpected pregnancy, the most important thing is to take a deep breath and gather information, von Carlowitz said. “Don’t make a decision quickly,” she added. Also, she encouraged women to involve their partners and men to be supportive of the women. “Stop, think, pray and ask her how she feels,” von Carlowitz said.
Father Ference emphasized that men and women complement each other and especially in a situation like an unplanned pregnancy, they need each other. He also mentioned that it’s important to love yourself, too.
“We want everyone to know that this Church is good, merciful and loving. Real love is seeing the face of Christ in another person,” von Carlowitz said. “Let judgment melt away and ask how you can help, how you can walk with the person.”