The coming months will be fascinating, and I suspect rather depressing, to watch. When it comes to abortion, especially after Dobbs, Christians face a choice of social respectability or religious fidelity. And the Christian commentariat already seems divided on which way to go.
The Dobbs decision has revealed fault lines in American Christianity. These fault lines lay just below the surface for a long while, but are now clearly exposed. As long as abortion was legal by Supreme Court decree, it was possible to identify as pro-life but keep that commitment at the level of theory; one could hold pro-life views but not be perceived as a threat. All that has now changed. To identify as pro-life post-Dobbs is not simply to hold an opinion many regard as wrong; it is to be part of an act of political and social “oppression.” And predictably, many Christians are feeling the need to “nuance” their relationship to the overturning of Roe.
The National Catholic Reporter has excelled itself in this regard. The strangest argument in its pages was made by Fr. Thomas Reese. He studiously avoided any expression of gratitude for the decision, and said it is a result of America’s domination by big corporations. The response of big business to Dobbs would seem to indicate his case is, to put it charitably, a little overstated.
Then, in an article attributed to “editorial staff,” the Reporter revealed the real reason for its nuance about Dobbs: Donald Trump appointed the Supreme Court justices who made it possible, and Trump was “arguably the most corrupt and morally degenerate president in history.” That claim may or may not be true—the competition for the title is a little stronger than the Reporter acknowledges—but the argument is specious at best. As to the article’s later assertion that “women will die without Roe’s protection,” one wonders whether the editorial staff of this prominent Catholic magazine are as familiar with their own church’s teaching on life and personhood as they are with Twitter (which has clearly had a baneful effect on otherwise intelligent people’s ability to construct an argument). It would seem not. By the standards of Catholic teaching, women have been dying by the millions for decades thanks to Roe.