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Ohio bishops seek further protection for unborn after SCOTUS decision

National Catholic News

June 30, 2022

In the wake of last week’s historic Supreme Court of the United States decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the court continued releasing decisions in other controversial cases, including affirming gun rights and agreeing that a public school coach has the right to pray.

However, none garnered as much reaction as the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which returned the abortion issue to states. The gist of the 6-3 decision was that there is not a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Reaction from both sides was swift and fallout continues since the June 24 decision was announced.

In Ohio, Attorney General David Yost immediately filed a motion in federal court to dissolve the injunction that prohibited enforcement of the state’s Heartbeat Law, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The court dissolved the stay.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio issued a statement June 27 saying the state’s Catholic bishops were “grateful a federal court lifted the injunction on Ohio's Heartbeat Law. Now, unborn children are legally protected from abortion at the moment a heartbeat is detected.” The bishops said they also are urging “the Ohio General Assembly to pass further protections for all unborn children and consider transformative family policies that help parents and children flourish in Ohio.”

They said their commitment to “protecting and promoting life includes providing resources and accompanying women during and after pregnancy through our numerous social service agencies and parishes. Let us not tire of forming a culture of life in both personal encounters and public policy that reflect God’s immeasurable love for each human life from conception to natural death.”

Mary von Carlowitz, director of the Diocese of Cleveland Office for Human Life, called the SCOTUS decision historic and “a day that will long be remembered. It's a historic moment not only in the nation, but in the life of the Church.” She said prayers have been offered since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 and reaffirmed.

“This is truly a day of praise as we enter this new post-Roe world as instruments of love, mercy and compassion for all women, the preborn and the family,” von Carlowitz said after the decision was announced last week.

She noted that her office has many resources available to help pregnant women and to support post-abortive women. Von Carlowitz said the diocese will use its resources to continue walking with and supporting those women as it has done for many years.

Cleveland Bishop Edward Malesic said he wholeheartedly applauded the decision that reversed what he called “the grave injustice of 1973, when Roe v. Wade decided that a whole class of human beings, the preborn, are outside the protection of the law and had no constitutional right to life. Since that decision, more than 60 million innocent lives have been sadly ended. Now that Roe is overturned, states will again be able to protect the lives of preborn children and in doing so, also protect millions of women from the tragic consequences of abortion.”

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said the bishops’ first thoughts were “with the little ones whose lives have been taken since 1973. We mourn their loss, and we entrust their souls to God, who loved them from before all ages and who will love them for all eternity. Our hearts are also with every woman and man who has suffered grievously from abortion; we pray for their healing, and we pledge our continued compassion and support. As a Church, we need to serve those who face difficult pregnancies and surround them with love.”

SCOTUS on June 27 ruled in favor of a high school football coach who lost his job because of his post-game prayers at the 50-yard line. By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that Joseph Kennedy’s conduct was protected by the First Amendment.

Following last week’s passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, commended members of Congress for approving the bill.

His statement said: “I welcome the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will take meaningful action to prevent gun violence and protect lives. The investments in mental health services and reasonable measures to regulate guns included in this bill are positive initial steps towards confronting a culture of violence. This agreement, born of dialogue and compromise to advance the safety and well-being of all, embodies the work Pope Francis calls us to in his encyclical, Fratelli tutti, Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.’ I commend members of Congress for their work thus far and encourage them to continue working to confront the plague of gun violence in our nation.”

The USCCB consistently supported the sensible regulation, sale and use of firearms. On June 3, the USCCB sent a letter to all members of Congress urging lawmakers to “unite in their humanity to stop the massacres of human lives” and to advance life-saving legislation to address gun violence. On June 23, the USCCB also sent a letter to all members of Congress in support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed on June 24.

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