The Dobbs Decision and NETWORK’s Continued Work for Racial and Economic Justice
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will have deep ramifications in people’s lives, many of whom may not even realize it yet. Undoing nearly half a century of precedent and jurisprudence will undoubtedly have a disorienting and destabilizing impact on our laws, the provision of maternal health care, and our already fraught civil discourse.
At NETWORK, we speak from five decades of women-led, person-centered advocacy and hundreds of encounters with women, families, and communities across the country that have been disinvested in, and marginalized by, our systems and structures. As a Catholic organization with 50 years of political ministry in a pluralistic democracy, we recognize the role and distinction of the moral and legal questions at issue here.
This Supreme Court decision leaves NETWORK with the following questions from our perspective of pursuing justice and the common good through federal policy:
- Will state and federal legislatures now introduce and pass a groundswell of policies to offer a robust social safety net of resources for all women and families that allow everyone to thrive?
- Are religious leaders prepared to allocate resources through the largesse of their institutions and donors to ensure that any gaps in the social safety net are filled?
- Will this decision lead to an increase in maternal mortality for the people who are already the most lacking in access to resources in our society, especially women living in rural, low-income communities and women of color?
- Will state legislatures continue to pass invasive and punitive measures that create a culture of surveillance and criminalization of women, including those experiencing ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage?
- Will this decision create a chilling effect among medical providers, making them hesitant or unable to provide life-saving care to patients suffering conditions such as ectopic pregnancy or hemorrhaging after a miscarriage?
With polarization and extremist violence growing in our country, people of faith have a moral duty to work toward the common good across a spectrum of issues. Catholic teaching states that a focus on one moral priority cannot lead to “dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity” (“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” #29).
For anyone who has made ending federal protections for abortion the singular focus of their political activity, we at NETWORK urge you to expand your focus to include the economic realities of women and families. Now is the time to listen to the experience of women, particularly women living in rural, low-income communities and women of color.
Founded by Catholic Sisters and imbued with their charisms, NETWORK educates, organizes, and lobbies to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all. We invite all who share our passion for justice to work with us to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive future.
Joan F. Neal is NETWORK’s deputy executive director and chief equity officer. Mary J. Novak is NETWORK’s executive director. Sr. Erin Zubal, OSU, is an Ursuline Sister of Cleveland and NETWORK’s chief of staff.