SAN DIEGO — The California Catholic Conference, led by Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy, greeted the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of its controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling as “a day to give thanks and celebrate.”
With its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, released on June 24, the Court repealed earlier decisions which had claimed a constitutional right to abortion, thereby returning to the states the right to determine the legality of abortion.
“While we celebrate this decision — the culmination of prayer and decades of legislative advocacy, life-affirming events, committing time and resources to pregnancy centers, and walking with families facing an unplanned pregnancy — in many ways, our work has just begun,” the conference said in a statement. “The Dobbs ruling is a brightly shining ray of light and hope in the war on the sanctity of life, but the battle and the work are far from over.”
The conference launched its “We Were Born Ready” campaign around Memorial Day. Dubbed “a new vision for post-Roe California,” the campaign is an effort to mobilize Catholics to step up their support of women, children and families in the state, addressing the challenging situations and root causes that lead women to consider getting an abortion. The campaign’s name suggests that the Church is ready for a world in which Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land and life-affirming solutions can be offered in place of abortion.
Pro-life Californians have their work cut out for them. Like some other states, California anticipated the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade by doubling down on abortion. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic state legislators have declared their intention to enshrine abortion as a right in the state constitution.
Maria Valencia, who oversees the Culture of Life ministry in the San Diego Diocese’s Office for Life, Peace and Justice, said that the long-awaited overturning of Roe v. Wade is cause for celebration, but pro-life Californians “have to continue fighting with more energy and praying with more enthusiasm” to bring an end to abortion in their own state.
She noted that the state may further incentivize abortion in the near future. One proposed bill would pay for the travel, lodging and childcare costs of out-of-state women seeking abortions in California.
“How about those women who want to have the baby?” Valencia asked rhetorically. Through the new campaign, Catholics are “offering the other things that the state is not offering.”
In a certain sense, Valencia said, the campaign isn’t something new: Throughout its history, the Church has been committed to serving the most vulnerable, including providing essential support for mothers and babies.
What the campaign seeks to do is to raise awareness of the existing safety-net resources available to women and families, including food, housing, healthcare, childcare, education, employment, economic assistance and intervention in partner violence.
California’s bishops are working to create a statewide network of pro-life pregnancy centers and are promoting Options United’s helpline, (877) 398-7734, to connect women with community resources and life-affirming alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.
Catholics are encouraged to support the campaign through prayer, education, advocacy, raising awareness or acts of service. Many examples are provided at wewerebornready.com.
For instance, Catholics might consider watching informational webinars about “We Were Born Ready.”
Other suggestions include sharing pregnancy resources in parish bulletins and social media, creating a parish MealTrain for new moms, making a financial contribution to a local pregnancy resource center and even doing such simple things as always saying “congratulations” upon hearing news that a woman is pregnant.
By signing up for the Catholic Legislative Network (cacatholic.org/legislation), they will receive a weekly e-newsletter and periodic “action alerts” on public policy issues — pro-life as well as social justice — in California.
“Everyone is called to do something in their own capacity to save babies and support their mothers,” Valencia said.
More information is available at wewerebornready.com.