Our Mission to Respect Life Remains Unchanged
By Bishop David J. Malloy
This coming Monday, Jan. 22, marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade. As we know all too well, that decision found in the penumbra of the Constitution of the United States a right to privacy that protected the right to abort unborn children. 
Over those 50 years, many people of reason and faith, and notably many in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic faith, have prayed, fasted and marched on that day to witness to their support for the right to life of the unborn and to urge the elimination of this unjust law.
This past year, as we know, the Supreme Court revisited elements of Roe v. Wade, and on June 24 it issued the decision known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That decision essentially reversed Roe v. Wade. In so doing, it returned the decision on abortion to each individual state and therefore to the voters therein.
As we approach the half-century anniversary of that earlier, terrible decision, it is an opportunity for reflection on the meaning of abortion and how it has been inserted into our society.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade was the culmination of years of effort. There was rightly a sense of joy that a law that so undermined respect for the life of the unborn and therefore respect for human life more widely finally had been overturned. 
The legal reasoning expressed in Roe, in the opinion of many, even some who were publicly supportive of abortion such as the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was weak. In addition, that law was used to intimidate or even silence discussions of the obvious fact that the fetus in the mother’s womb is already our brother or sister, a human person waiting to be born. Our solidarity as the human family was imperiled by a legal use of power to suppress the helpless.
The public discussion since the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, however, has shown us that the struggle for justice and respect for human life remains, but has now entered a new phase. And it is up to us in faith to continue our monumental effort to protect every unborn child’s right to grow in the womb and be born and live. We are in a post-Roe v. Wade society but our mission remains unchanged and must remain unwavering.
The political campaigns and results of the recent election in November demonstrated that abortion continues to be a primary topic. The secular culture and many politicians, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, have spoken only of a narrowly focused right to abortion. The dignity of the child in the womb is implicitly considered by this secular culture to be unworthy of mention or consideration. 
At the same time, it has become clear that the achievement of the goal of overturning national abortion legislation has thrust the decision upon us locally. Here in Illinois, funding for abortion services and even the repeal of the parental notification law have expanded the role of abortion. It has recently been reported by the Society of Family Planning that in Illinois abortions are up 28 percent. In the City of Rockford two new clinics offering abortion services are being opened and sure to add to that increase.
Jan. 22 this year, and going forward, is a new and different call for us as our goal focuses on Illinois legislation. We must be positive in our witness. In our families we need to commit ourselves and our children to support for the unborn. We need to show our support and compassion for mothers who are now living with the anguish of having taken the life of their child. And we must be willing to sacrifice to help expectant or single mothers in need. 
Currently, our elected representatives in the Illinois Legislature are discussing more radical abortion legislation. If abortion becomes a question on the ballot, we must exercise our faith and reason in protecting the unborn.
January will remain for us each year as a month to respect life. What has begun is a new dialogue in our society. We need now to change the hearts of those who do not stand with the right to life. The first results since the Dobbs decision have not been favorable to respect for life. But as with Roe v. Wade, the road is long and we must not give up. Still, we remain confident. The cause is right and it is for the best for mothers, children and for all of us as a society.