Catholics across the Archdiocese of St. Louis joined prayer events at nearly two dozen locations in the area Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to pray for a favorable outcome in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Carol Weiland said the case being considered before the high court is a matter of life and death concerning the unborn child. “It’s the same life at the time it’s created, and all the way through (life),” said Weiland, a member of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka. “It’s the same person, it’s the same life.”
Weiland is part of a group of more than 15 women from several parishes across the archdiocese who meet every Wednesday to pray in front of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. They joined dozens of people throughout the day Dec. 1 who prayed on the sidewalk outside the facility and before the Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent across the street. The activity was organized by the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate.
“We started inviting people, and I believe it was the Holy Spirit that brought us all together from different areas,” said Catherine Roche, who attends St. Elizabeth/St. Raymond in Crestwood. “Rain, cold, hot, we come here every week,”
“Prayer is powerful, and that’s what we do,” said Paulette Capes of St. Ambrose Parish on the Hill. “It’s very important that we pray all the time.”
Pro-life advocates have said that the outcome of the Dobbs case, the first of its kind in decades, has the potential to challenge the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout the country. Oral arguments began Dec. 1.
The case before the high court is an appeal from Mississippi to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ban was struck down by a federal District Court in Mississippi in 2018 and upheld a year later by the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
The Mississippi law is being challenged by the state’s only abortion facility, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. When the court announced in the spring that it would take this case, after considering it more than a dozen times since 2020, the justices said they would only review one of the three questions presented: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
The point of viability — when an unborn baby is said to be able to survive on its own — is key, because the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot restrict abortion before 24 weeks, when a baby typically could survive on its own. Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks is more restrictive than current law.
If the court sides with Mississippi, it would be the first time the court would allow an abortion ban before the point of viability and possibly lay the groundwork for other abortion restrictions that other states could follow.
In Missouri, legislators passed HB 126 — also known as the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act” — which prohibits abortion when an unborn baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome, as well as banning most abortions at eight, 14-, 18- and 20-weeks’ gestation. Those two provisions are currently being challenged in the courts.
Other provisions that went into effect in 2019 include a “trigger ban” that would ban all abortions in Missouri if Roe vs. Wade is overturned; a requirement for a second custodial parent to be notified when a minor is seeking an abortion, with certain exceptions; and a recognition that God is the author of life and that Missouri is a “sanctuary of life” that protects pregnant women and unborn children.
A ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson case is not expected until July of 2022.
Catholic News Service provided some information for this story.