After a half-century of advocacy, activism, lobbying, and intense prayer, the Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case is a clear cause for celebration and gratitude. The tragedy of more than 60 million unborn lives lost since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision will never be forgotten. Now, the focus going forward is ensuring that our future generations will never have to endure similar losses and the Catholic Medical Association is poised to continue the necessary work.
Any assumption that abortion will be outlawed entirely because of this decision is dangerously mistaken. The fight for life is a prolonged war, and one battle in the Dobbs case does not win that war. The field of battle will change and the contest will continue. Debates regarding abortion will be relegated to each state. Some will continue their current abortion policies. Some will expand abortions, while others will restrict them. However, citizens will be responsible for these decisions. The election of pro-life officials will require our efforts and vigilance. Over the years, CMA has taken the lead in many states to promote pro-life and pro-woman legislation. Those efforts and advocacy by CMA will not only continue, but will increase.
Further, it must always be recognized that the availability of abortion is not simply limited by a state’s borders. Access to chemical means of abortion (“abortion pills”) obtained online or via telemedicine, remain a probable option. As a result, abortion pill reversal will likely be in higher demand and many of our CMA physicians are trained and working on the frontline offering this care.
Beyond the legislative arena, many of the necessary resources for women in crisis pregnancies are already in place, including pregnancy care centers, churches and charities to provide for immediate medical, material and spiritual needs, and also to provide post-abortion healing. With the reversal of Roe, many women may feel the pain of an abortion decision resurface and they will need our care and compassion. CMA members support, volunteer and spearhead many of these efforts.
Empowering women with Natural Family Planning (NFP) choices is another aspect of our response. Recently, CMA publicly expressed its opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to cease coverage for NFP services. These fertility awareness-based methods are reliable and moral methods proven to be safe, effective, and inexpensive. As attention is focused on life-promoting reproductive medicine, CMA will continue to promote and call for coverage of NFP and similar methods of care.
Our Church’s leadership provides a clear example of a proactive measure in response to this societal change. “Walking with Moms in Need,” a program developed by the USCCB Pro-Life Activities Office two years ago, has provided every diocese in the nation with information directed at the parish level. Every CMA guild and member is called to support, promote, and assist in programs such as this in their diocese and parish as the La Crosse Guild has done (see story here).
CMA’s most powerful weapon in this debate is the same as that of all believers: prayer. Daily focused prayer for the promotion of life-saving policies is imperative. CMA’s FIRE Committee is a source of inspiration and information and offers monthly prayer resources in their “Embers” e-newsletter. The Committee also offers monthly virtual prayer meetings for the intentions of CMA members, which is an opportunity to join colleagues in an online community of prayer.
We live in challenging yet exciting times that offer an opportunity to do genuine and lasting good for our brothers and sisters. As health care professionals, we are already spread thin. However, the preservation of defenseless lives and the support of women in crisis can only be accomplished by our continued sacrifices. A lesson from St. Therese of Lisieux provides succinct and direct advice as we continue to face these challenges: “Love is nourished only by sacrifices.”
Dr. Tim Millea is the chair of the Health Care Policy Committee, Conscience Rights Protection Task Force, and the 2023 Annual Educational Conference. He is also a CMA board member, Iowa state director, and president of the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities.