Sunday marks 50 years since Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that imposed by judicial fiat the most extreme abortion policy in the Western world. It deprived more than 63 million unborn children of their right to life and severely limited the ability of states to mitigate the harms of abortion through legislation.
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe, allowing elected representatives at the state level to once again protect women and their children from abortion. This is a fruit of prayer, born of a commitment to justice.
Millions of women and men, children and families have experienced the heartbreak of abortion over the last five decades. We maintain a profound sense of sorrow and grief for both the tragic loss of unborn children since 1973 and that abortion continues in Florida today. Our ultimate goal is to foster a culture of life in which hearts and minds are changed so that abortion is unthinkable. We remain hopeful as Dobbs opens a new chapter in our efforts to engage all people of good will to protect women and children from abortion and empower women and vulnerable families in their times of need.
We applaud the restrictions enacted in the 2022 Florida legislative session to limit abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law mirrors the underlying Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs. It was a prudent and beneficial step for Florida as the U.S. Supreme Court considered the case. Our advocacy for the legal protection of life in the womb must continue to make the most of the opportunities presented by Dobbs. The Legislature must enact further limits on abortion.
The current legal challenge to the 15-week limit provides expectant hope. Like Roe, the Florida Supreme Court case wrongfully interpreting a broad right to abortion in the Florida Constitution may soon be overturned.
Additionally, Florida can do more to promote alternatives to abortion, particularly through the network of pro-life pregnancy help centers that assist women and families with young children. United with our fellow bishops across the United States in our support for the Walking with Moms in Need initiative, we continue to call on Catholics and people of good will to support and engage in the good work undertaken in these agencies.
We pray that Christ will guide us as we work collectively toward the full legal protection of every human life. May every child conceived be protected in law and welcomed in life.
The Most Rev. Gregory L. Parkes is bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. This piece was co-authored by the bishops of the other Catholic dioceses in Florida: Most Rev. Thomas G. Wenski and Most Rev. Enrique E. Delgado, Archdiocese of Miami; Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, Diocese of Palm Beach; Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice; Most Rev. John G. Noonan, Diocese of Orlando; Most Rev. William A. Wack, C.S.C., Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee; and Most Rev. Erik T. Pohlmeier, Diocese of St. Augustine.