On December 1 and 2, 2021, the United States Supreme Court considered Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. In question is the constitutionality of the 2018 law of the state of Mississippi, the Gestational Age Act, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks.
The Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, filed a lawsuit against the law, which nevertheless provides exceptions when the life of the mother or a “major bodily function” is at stake, or if the unborn child has a condition “incompatible with life outside the womb.”
The Supreme Court's decision to take up the case was seen as significant, US Catholic News Agency (CNA) points out, as the Court had previously refused to consider appeals for other pro-life laws from a dozen states restricting abortions after 20 weeks, 12 weeks, and as early as six weeks.
In addition, on September 1, 2021, the Court rejected a challenge to the Texas Heartbeat Act which prohibits abortions after the detection of fetal heartbeats, which can occur as early as the sixth week. By dismissing the challenge, the Court allowed the law — which is enforced by private civil suits, not the state — to remain in effect. In response, President Joe Biden pledged a government effort to keep abortion in Texas.
Mississippi lawmakers noted that the United States is one of seven nations in the world to allow non-therapeutic or elective abortion on demand after the 20th week of gestation, CNA said—in the company of Vietnam, China, North Korea, Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands.
“This is not progress. The time has come to recognize that,” they added. 75% of all nations do not permit abortion after 12 weeks of gestation, except (in most cases) to save the life and preserve the physical health of the mother.
Recall that in its January 1973 decision, rendered by 7 votes to 2, in the case of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides a “right to privacy” that allows pregnant women to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
States that had previously banned or severely restricted abortions, based on a long-standing legal tradition in the United States, were enjoined by the nation's highest court to act in conjunction with this newly defined “right.” Since then, according to CNA, some 62 million unborn children have been aborted in the United States.
Gènétique magazine specifies, through the voice of Nicolas Bauer, associate researcher at the ECLJ (European Center for Law & Justice), that “since Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, a ban on abortion before the threshold of viability, around 24 weeks of pregnancy, has been considered unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court could effect a reversal, or at least a softening, of this decision.” Also, a “change in case law would not be unprecedented in the history of the Supreme Court.”
If a pro-life judgment were pronounced by the Supreme Court of the United States, it would constitute a strong signal for the “entire world.” Indeed, the interview concludes, “Roe v. Wade is not unsurpassable; the same goes for the Veil law.”
On October 14, 2021, Pope Francis received in private audience participants from a congress organized by the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacists. He reminded these health professionals that when they “use medicinal substances that can become poisons,” they must exercise constant vigilance “so that the goal is always the life of the patient in its entirety.” This can lead to conscientious objection, Francis continued, that is, “fidelity to your profession, if it is validly motivated.”
In particular, “on the subject of abortion, you know that I am very clear on this: it is homicide and it is not lawful to become an accomplice,” he insisted. Abortion, the Pope said, is not the solution; “you have to be in a confessional to understand the price of this, which is so hard.”