I don’t know if the Supreme Court will hand down its decision on Dobbs today. Or whether, when it does, as in Justice Alito’s leaked draft, it will reverse Roe v. Wade. What I do know is that whatever leeway the Court will give states to limit abortion will not lead to “mostly peaceful” protests, but to violence.
Radical pro-abortion groups have already carried out attacks on pro-life counseling centers and there have been suspicious incidents around the country at churches. Those same groups have promised much more of this in the summer and fall, and are already organizing “Days of Rage.”
Catholic churches are going to be a particular target because we’ve been the most visible advocates for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death. So it’s time for us to organize as well – not only bishops and pastors, but all Catholics – to be ready for what’s coming.
We cannot rely much on our governmental institutions. Look at how they responded to the crazed young man who just threatened to kill Justice Kavanaugh. It’s true that police arrested and charged him – after he turned himself in. But little has been done to prevent someone else from trying to do the same thing.
Because abortion is so politicized, Nancy Pelosi has held up legislation in Congress that would provide additional protection for the justices, their families, clerks and employees, saying “nobody’s in danger.” They are, of course, but to say so might upset the base.
Meanwhile, the pro-abortion group Ruth Sent Us intimated in a tweet Thursday that it’s watching Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley, and knows where two of his children go to school.
The same pro-abortion group tweeted out Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s address, the fact that she goes to Mass daily, and sends her seven children to a local People of Praise school. (It has also called the Church “an institution for the enslavement of women.”)
And Samuel Alito is in a safe house.
This is straight from a Mafia playbook: “Nice little place you have here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
If we were still living under the rule of law, whoever at Ruth Sent Us was responsible for the tweets threatening two SCOTUS justices would be in jail right now. That they are not – the media would be flagging it if they were – gives us a fair view into how protests and violence will be treated after the Dobbs decision drops.
And it shows how Twitter, which is so sensitive about messages that make people not feel “safe” (some people anyway), will also behave. Along with other media.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has talked about such threats as intolerable in a civilized society. But where’s the action? Not just nominal protections for those under threat or investigations of violent groups, but the robust rule of law.
There were only two armed officers outside Kavanaugh’s home when Nicholas John Roske arrived in the middle of the night. A more experienced would-be assassin or a determined group could have succeeded, which would not only be an outrage in itself, but would have put the Supreme Court and our whole system of government in a tailspin.
Meanwhile, Days of Rage are coming. It’s time to start thinking about how to respond. In Pope Francis’s own homeland, Argentina, radical feminists have stormed and firebombed churches and government offices. (See here, for example.) Catholic lay people have had to form cordons to turn them back.
At my parish, we had two police cars parked outside the church the Sunday after the Alito draft was leaked. But it’s clear that the danger will increase by orders of magnitude once we have a decision. Every bishop and every pastor in the country ought to be thinking – right now before the trouble erupts – about who will be needed to respond to protests or outright violence.
I’ve already told my pastor that I’m ready to man the barricades, if it comes to that. Let’s hope it doesn’t.
But we’re going to need the advice of former police and ex-military people, at the local level, people experienced in how to handle individuals and crowds with minimum force. To reply in kind to violence ourselves would be to adopt the methods of our adversaries.
It’s sad to think that this is where we are in America too now, but it’s a consequence of the Court’s mistake in inventing a constitutional right to abortion.
European friends sometimes tell me that there’s less turmoil about abortion in their countries because, instead of a fiat handed down by courts, their legislatures actually debated abortion laws. Most European countries – despite what pro-abortion groups claim here in America – have legal regulation of abortion similar to what Mississippi is seeking in Dobbs: abortions legal prior to 15 weeks and more strictly curtailed thereafter.
People, of course, find ways around legal restrictions in Europe, and even first-trimester abortion is still an abomination. But it tells you something about our social condition that Mississippi’s law, which is basically the liberal consensus in Europe, is regarded here as extremist and a radical infringement on women’s rights.
We’re actually going to have debates about that now in the states.
In the meantime, many of us are going to be called to put ourselves on the line – literally – to protect our churches and the other institutions that stand up for the simple principle that innocent human life is sacred. That’s a natural law principle, the conclusion of right reason, not – as even some Catholics like President Biden sometimes say – an imposition of religious dogma on American citizens.
People sometimes joke that, if the arch-skeptic Voltaire were to come back today, he’d be shocked that the Church has become the strongest defender of human reason in our postmodern, radically relativistic world. And he might be even more amazed to see Catholics and other people of goodwill putting themselves on the line, as we must now, in defense of reason – and human life.
*Image: Pro-abortion protestors, some masked, outside Nancy Pelosi’s house. Their signs have images of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas beneath the word “Liar.” They were accusing Speaker Pelosi of being “complicit” in the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade. [Rachel Podlishevsky/Pro Bono Photo/New York Post]
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Stephen P. White’s Joe and Others After ‘Roe’
Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky’s Understanding Mortal Sin