NEW YORK – Ahead of the first anniversary of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference pro-life chair has declared the day one “for continued joy and gratitude,” while also reaffirming the church’s position that there is much work ahead.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe on June 24, 2022, almost 50 years after it legalized abortion nationwide. In the high court’s decision to overturn the landmark 1973 decision with the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they largely left abortion law to the states.

In essence, the overturning of Roe opened a door for states to either restrict or expand abortion access.

Almost a year later, 14 states have a near-total or total abortion ban in place, one state has a six-week ban, and another a 12-week ban. A host of other states have had abortion bans or restrictions blocked or held up in courts.

Conversely, about just as many states have taken steps over the past year to expand abortion access and make the procedure more accessible, as well as enshrine the right into the state constitution.

From the day Roe was overturned, the USCCB has emphasized the work that lies ahead. That tenor didn’t change in a June 6 statement from Bishop Michael Burbidge, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, ahead of the year anniversary of the court’s decision.

“Even as we celebrate, we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts to protect human life,” said Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington.  “Despite this momentous legal victory, sobering and varied challenges lie ahead of us.”

“In this shifting political landscape, we persist confidently in our efforts to defend life,” Burbidge continued. “The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so.”

Burbidge called for Catholics to stand in radical solidarity with women facing an unexpected or challenging pregnancy, which includes providing them with the care and support they need to welcome their children into the world. He also called for Catholics to extend a compassionate hand to all who are suffering in the aftermath of participation in abortion.

“May all people of faith and good will work together to proclaim that human life is a precious gift from God; that each person who receives this gift has responsibilities toward God, self and others; and that society, through its laws and social institutions, must protect and nurture human life at every stage of existence,” Burbidge said.

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