Supreme Knight 'gratefully' commemorates Dobbs, says 'there is still much to be done'

A memorial stone dedicated to the unborn children of the world is seen at St. Patrick Parish Cemetery in Smithtown N.Y., Jan. 22, 2021. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

(OSV News) -- The head of the Knights of Columbus "gratefully" commemorated the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, saying that "today, and for generations to come," the June 24, 2022, ruling "will be viewed as one of the most significant human rights achievements in our nation's history."

"By allowing abortion on demand, including late-term abortions up to birth, Roe had a devastating impact on women and took the lives of over 60 million unborn children," Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in a June 22 statement, which he issued "on behalf of more than 2 million Knights of Columbus and their families worldwide."

The Supreme Court issued its Dobbs ruling in a case involving a Missisppi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, in which the state directly challenged the high court's previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Supreme Court ultimately overturned its own prior rulings, undoing nearly a half-century of its own precedent on abortion and returning the abortion issue to the states.

In the year since that ruling, individual states have moved to either restrict abortion or expand access to the procedure.

Earlier in June, Bishop Michael J. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the Dobbs anniversary, saying that "we have much to celebrate" but also noting the decision marked the beginning of a critical new phase in protecting human life.

"By the grace of God, the nearly fifty-year reign of national abortion on demand has been put to an end. Roe v. Wade, a seemingly insurmountable blight on our nation -- is no more!" he said June 6.

But, he added, "over the past year, while some states have acted to protect preborn children, others have tragically moved to enshrine abortion in law -- enacting extreme abortion policies that leave children vulnerable to abortion, even until the moment of birth. … The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so."

In his statement Kelly, too, said that, "There is still much to be done."

"In the Dobbs era, the Knights of Columbus will continue to fight for the lives of the unborn -- both in Washington and on the state level -- and we will strengthen our support for mothers and their children," he said.

Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the fraternal organization, "had a particular concern for widows and orphans, and the Knights' mission to support mothers in need and their children is a sacred responsibility we've carried for over 140 years," Kelly added, noting some of the Knights' pro-life efforts.

Those include the Aid and Support After Pregnancy initiative, which was started last year "to greatly expand the Knights' already robust support for pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes," he said, adding that Knights across the U.S. and Canada have exceeded their first-year goal for ASAP, as it's known, by raising more than $5 million to support mothers and their babies.

The Knights of Columbus and its local councils also cover the entire cost of ultrasound machines for pregnancy resource centers. Since 2009, the Knights has funded the purchase of 1,730 of "these life-saving machines," valued at more than $82 million, according to Kelly.

Through the program, ultrasound machines have been placed at pro-life centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and other countries, "empowering an estimated 1 million mothers to see their unborn babies," the top Knight said.

Kelly said that "tens of thousands of lives have been saved since the Dobbs decision," but "many U.S. states still offer no protections for the lives of the unborn."

He also expressed concern about efforts in Congress to codify Roe "and block new and existing pro-life laws, including those that save the unborn from late-term abortions" by passing the "misnamed" Women's Health Protection Act.

A bill summary says the measure would "protect a person's ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider's ability to provide abortion services."

In February 2022, it passed the House of Representatives, but it was defeated in the Senate in a 46–48 vote. It lost again in the Senate in May 2022 in a 49–51 vote.

On March 8 of this year four Democratic senators reintroduced the Women's Health Protection Act. "Women's reproductive health care is under attack," said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the four. "There has never been a more urgent time to pass the Women's Health Protection Act and ensure that women reclaim the right to make their own decisions about their health care." Its passage is unlikely, because Senate Republicans remain opposed to it.

Top House Democrats reintroduced the measure March 30.

In his statement Kelly also urged Congress to act to maintain a long-standing practice "of keeping taxpayer dollars out of the abortion business and ensuring that federal agencies maintain their mission of serving the people -- and not serving as facilitators of abortion. In fact, 60% of Americans oppose the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions."

He was referring to the Hyde Amendment, which since the 1970s had routinely been passed by Congress in the appropriations process to prohibit federal government dollars from being spent on abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the woman's life.

But in July 2021, the House passed an appropriations measure without the Hyde Amendment for the first time -- a move supported by President Joe Biden, a Catholic who supports legal abortion and who had promised to end Hyde when he campaigned for the presidency.

Catholic leaders, including the Knights and the U.S. bishops, have backed passage of the proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to make the Hyde Amendment's provisions permanent.

In his statement on the Dobbs anniversary, Kelly quoted remarks Pope Francis made in May 2022 to the crowd assembled in St. Peter's Square in which he rejected the view that we can "give birth or take life as we please, as if it were the exclusive consequence of individual choice."

"Instead, the Holy Father reminded us, ‘Let us remember that life is a gift from God! It is always sacred and inviolable, and we cannot silence the voice of conscience,'" Kelly said.

He said the Knights will "continue to serve as a voice for the sanctity and dignity of every human life" in all their initiatives to help mothers and their babies and in their continued participation in the national March for Life in Washington and marches at the state level" and keep praying "until abortion becomes unthinkable."


AOD-REC: April - Article Bottom