Leaked Document is a Call to New Action and Love
By Bishop David J. Malloy
On May 2 this year, a leaked draft document was published conveying a decision by the majority of justices on the Supreme Court in the case entitled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The draft decision was authored by Justice Samuel Alito and overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
This unprecedented leak led Chief Justice John Roberts to acknowledge the following day that the draft was authentic. At the same time, he initiated an investigation to identify who had leaked the document. 
The document was already several months old when leaked. And it is important to note that draft documents are just that, drafts, not final versions. Evidently, as part of the internal working of the Court, authors of decisions are chosen by the Chief Justice and drafts are circulated for discussion. It is possible that even the final decision articulated in the leaked draft might still be changed.
The provisions of Roe v. Wade have resulted in an estimated 65 million abortions in the United States since 1973. State laws establishing protections and society’s interest in the life of the unborn child have been repeatedly nullified and overturned by courts since then. The result has been a division and a tearing apart of our society on this issue. Our elections and our main political parties have constantly split on the issue of abortion.
Since 1973, the Catholic Bishops of the United States have advocated for overturning this destructive ruling. Countless faithful Catholics and numerous other people of faith and of good will have been tireless in seeking this same end as a means of fostering protection for the unborn. While we can’t condone the breach of trust in leaking such a document, the draft suggests that that end may possibly be in sight.
We might then ask ourselves, what is the next step? What can we expect if Roe v. Wade is overturned or even significantly curtailed by a coming ruling of the Court? And perhaps most especially, what role will we as Catholics need to play in the coming months?
First, all who have worked for respect for the child in the womb must realize that overturning the 1973 Court decision is not the final goal. What must be restored is an understanding of the value of every human life. That value can be recognized only if we acknowledge that human life is made in the image and likeness of God. And that in turn requires that we witness to the very existence of God and His loving presence throughout creation.
Second, there will be controversy and even suffering should Roe v. Wade be overturned. The secular press and politicians supporting abortion have begun to impugn the decision. If we listen, however, we hear a discussion on one theme, that is, the limitation of freedom of women. Other issues are ignored, such as the destruction of human life to facilitate that freedom, or the long-term suffering experienced by many men and women after an abortion.
Those arguments for abortion are already being made with passion and anger. There have been calls to disrupt Masses and churches have been vandalized. The private homes of the Supreme Court justices are being picketed as a means of intimidation.
As Catholics, we must be ready to witness in the midst of ideological pressures, elements of societal disapproval and even possible confrontations. And through it all, we are called in this moment to witness to love — to the love of God and love of our brothers and sisters.
We must recognize and state clearly that there are two lives impacted by abortion, that of the mother and of the child. And we stand ready to support and assist both. We need to be personally ready to assist women in difficulty, both materially and spiritually. For that reason, the Diocese of Rockford has organized a program called Walking with Moms in Need with various components of assistance for pregnant mothers.
At the same time, we must make sure that our voice on abortion and respect for life conveys God’s love. Others may argue and denounce our love. But our response must be, yes, and speak the truth. A child’s heart begins to beat after five to six weeks following conception. It moves in the womb at about eight weeks. By 12 weeks vital organs begin to function and the human form has taken shape.
But more deeply, we must remind ourselves and others that the child has a right to be loved. The child is worthy of our love and our sacrifice because he or she is already alive, and is a life separate from but dependent on his or her mother as each of us was for nine months.
In the end, our task is the conversion of hearts. That is an even bigger task than the overturning of a flawed Supreme Court decision. But it is the only way to heal our society and to make ourselves whole again.