On Jan. 2, more than 200 members of Congress called on the
Supreme Court to reconsider and, “if appropriate,” to overrule Roe v.
Wade when the justices decide this spring the fate of a Louisiana law
that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby
The call to reverse the landmark decision that
legalized abortion nationwide was echoed Jan. 24 by the thousands of
students, religious leaders and activists attending the 47th annual
March for Life in Washington. With the appointment of two pro-life
justices to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, members of the
pro-life movement are hopeful that the long-awaited reversal or a
significant weakening of Roe is close at hand. We share that hope.
as the editors of America magazine wrote one year ago: “The pro-life
movement’s work becomes more complicated, not less so, as the prospect
of meaningful legal protections for unborn children dawns.”
abortion will likely remain legal in many if not most states regardless
of where the court comes down on Roe, building a culture that helps
mothers and fathers to welcome children remains imperative. Support for
working parents is an essential part of that culture and Catholic
organizations and business leaders should be at the forefront of efforts
to create more family-friendly workplaces.
The Archdiocese of
Chicago has been a leader in this regard. In 2016, it became the first
U.S. diocese to offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave to its employees.
In March 2019, the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, also began providing
12 weeks of paid leave to employees after a birth or adoption. Bishop
Christopher J. Coyne described his decision to offer parental leave as
“one way we can help to build a culture of life.” But these dioceses are
outliers — and not just in the Catholic Church. According to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 16% of workers in the private sector
have access to paid leave. (The Archdiocese of St. Louis gives employees
20 days of paid parental leave.)
There are steps short of fully
funded family leave — which may be out of reach for many cash-strapped
dioceses and nonprofits — that employers can take to ensure that parents
do not have to choose between supporting their families financially and
spending time with infants and young children.
All workplaces can
provide nursing mothers with paid breaks for breast-feeding or
lactation rooms. Granting more flexible schedules or the option to work
remotely allows parents to spend more time with children during the
essential years of early development and can cut down on child care
Executives and managers also should create a workplace
culture that does not penalize or stigmatize those who choose to take
advantage of the benefits available to parents. This is especially
important for men — 76% of whom return to work after one week or less
following a birth or adoption, according to a 2014 study.
v. Wade is reversed, it will remain only a partial victory as long as
people feel they have to choose between keeping their baby and
supporting their family. But mothers and fathers should be able to feel
secure in their decision to bring a child into the world without having
to depend on the rulings of justices or the votes of politicians.
Pro-life employers, in both the Church and the private sector, do not
need to wait for a government mandate to begin building pro-family
The St. Louis Review periodically features
editorials from other Catholic publications. This editorial was
originally published in the Jan. 10 issue of America magazine, a weekly