Following the Supreme Court’s ruling June 24 in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, there has been some confusion and misinformation about what the ruling means.
Boiled down to its essence, the ruling overturns previous Supreme Court abortion cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and leaves the decision of abortion access up to individual states.
In Wisconsin, abortion is illegal under an 1849 law that makes an exception for the life of the mother. Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin has halted all scheduled abortions at its facilities in Milwaukee and Madison in the wake of the ruling.
However, over the weekend, Gov. Tony Evers signaled he would offer clemency for any abortion provider who is arrested and/or prosecuted. Gov. Evers is up for re-election in November, and it is assumed a pro-life governor would enforce the state law that is on the books.
Under existing laws, abortion is illegal to some extent in 16 states, but additional state legislators could take up the matter following the Dobbs ruling. In Wisconsin’s surrounding states of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, abortion remains legal for now.
The Wisconsin Catholic Conference offered the following statement, signed by the state’s five bishops who lead dioceses, on the day of the ruling:
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision corrects a tragic wrong in our federal jurisprudence that has permitted the killing of millions of innocent human beings. In Wisconsin alone, approximately 600,000 unique lives were taken, each created in God’s image and loved for all eternity.
While relieved that an inhumane and unjust right to abortion has been struck down, we know well that many of Wisconsin’s pregnant and parenting women face grave challenges. It is for this reason that our prayers and our work to protect every human life must increase.
The Catholic Church in Wisconsin is redoubling its efforts to care for women and their children. Already, Catholic health care, Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus, pregnancy help centers, food pantries and thousands of volunteers serve women and children in need. Catholic adoption agencies help mothers find forever families of their choosing for their newborns.
Project Rachel Ministry provides confidential and compassionate healing to those who grieve past abortions. In addition to these long-standing ministries, the Church’s new initiative, Walking with Moms in Need, connects pregnant and parenting women with parishioners so that mothers receive the material, emotional and spiritual support they deserve and desire.
Though these ministries are necessary, they are not sufficient. We must change our social and economic structures so that no woman is pitted against her unborn child and every woman is empowered to pursue education, employment and parenting, if she so chooses.
Through our public policy voice, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, we will continue to support laws that protect unborn children, support marriage and family, expand care for women and children — including postpartum, mental health and substance use treatment — and increase access to childcare, affordable housing, employment training and nutrition assistance. We will persist in calling for increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit and for the creation of a state adoption tax credit. Finally, we will work with all people of good will to identify and promote new protections for human life at every stage.
Now is the time to come together to heal our social divisions and ensure that every human being is treated with the utmost tenderness, dignity and respect.”
Resources for Mothers in Need
Walking With Moms in Need was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and only a few parishes took part. The basic program is encouraging each parish to adopt and support a nearby pregnancy center — find out what they need and try to meet those needs. An outline of the program can be found here: https://www.archmil.org/Walking-With-Moms-in-Need.
A current list of pregnancy centers, resources and program information can be found here: https://www.archmil.org/ArchMil/Resources/WalkingwithMomsinNeedFLYER.pdf.
Catholic Charities has a program for pregnancy support, parenting and adoption services. More info can be found here: https://www.ccmke.org/Catholic-Charities/Get-Help/Pregnancy-Parenting-Support.htm.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has asked each parish to assign a liaison to stay in contact with Dcn. Jim Matthias, the director of Respect Life Ministry, for information and coordination of other programs. This liaison would also serve as a contact for pregnant women seeking help from the parish. Their name and number should be frequently published in bulletins, on the parish website and other communications so women recognize the Church as a safe place to seek support and assistance. Have this person contact Dcn. Matthias at MatthiasJ@archmil.org.
The archdiocese is bringing back Project Rachel for women (and men) who are struggling with the aftermath of abortion — offering counseling, forgiveness and healing. Cards and flyers will be sent to display in the parish. For more information, visit www.archmil.org/projectrachel.
Mass of Mercy
In recognition of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Catholic faithful are invited to attend a Votive Mass for the Mercy of God celebrated by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 30, at St. Dominic Parish, 18255 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. During the Mass, we will pray for merciful remembrance before God for lives lost to abortion, and renewed efforts in support of the dignity of all human life.