The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was greeted as a moral victory by local conservatives and some faith leaders who saw the ruling as one that would save countless future lives.
While they rejoiced that years of pro-life advocacy had paid off, they also said the decision did not go far enough and vowed they would fight for a national ban on abortions.
“Today is a day to give thanks and celebrate,” Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego said in a statement on the diocese’s website. “Catholic social teaching holds that life begins at conception, which is a belief shared by millions of Americans regardless of religious faith.”
McElroy described the court action as “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.”
He also wrote that in many ways, their work had just begun.
“We must work to ensure that California law protects the rights of the unborn,” he wrote. “And we must emphasize that being pro-life demands more than opposition to abortion. It demands we do everything we can to support families, to provide access to quality health care, affordable housing, good jobs and decent housing.”
“Support for children and families cannot stop at birth,” he added.
The University of San Diego, a Catholic school not directly governed by the Diocese of San Diego, also issued a statement in support of the decision.
“As a contemporary Catholic institution, we agree with the tenets of the Church on protecting the right to life of the unborn,” the statement read. “This is reflected in the statements issued today by Bishop Robert McElroy and also the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
Immigration attorney Esther Valdés Clayton, president of the Coronado Unified School District Board of Trustees and a frequent commentator on KUSI-TV, was vacationing with her husband in Wales when she heard the news on the BBC. She tweeted, “One of the biggest Human Rights abuses of our time has just ended today. #RoeOverturned.”
“It’s been ongoing coverage here on the BBC,” she said in a call from the UK.
“There were answered prayers from those of us who have been fighting for this day to come, not just in terms of money, but protests, election victories, voting consistently for pro-life advocates,” she said. “It was definitely the culmination for a lot of us of decades worth of work. I joined the pro-life movement in 1998 when my daughter was born. So it’s been two decades of protesting in front of Planned Parenthood.”
Like McElroy, Valdés Clayton sees more work ahead.
“For a lot of us, we want to see a national ban on abortion,” she said. “We want (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) to be federal legislation, not just left as states rights. And that’s to ensure that every person has the right to life as enshrined in the Constitution.”
At Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley, math teacher Christine LaPorte saw the ruling as a victory championing the dignity of human life, and she said in an email that the decision left her feeling relief and gratitude.
“We believe in the sanctity of all human life, from natural conception until natural death,” wrote LaPorte, adviser to the school’s pro-life club Dons for Life, the largest student group at the school.
“We promote a ‘right to life’ mentality, which is all-encompassing and ever-expanding,” she wrote. “Being pro-life means defending the dignity of life, no matter how inconvenient or unpopular it may be.”
Dons for Life formed in 2016, and its members often travel across the country for advocacy events and to push for a multitude of faith-based, pro-life issues.
“We also recognize that people are hurting today, and we care deeply about those people too,” LaPorte wrote. “So, now is when the real work begins, especially in our home state of California. This is the true joy of the pro-life movement, supporting pregnant and parenting mothers.”
Amy Reichert, founder of Reopen San Diego and a candidate for District Four county supervisor, called the decision “a win,” but also said her feelings about the issue were nuanced.
Reichert, who was born in 1968, said her mother had put her up for adoption and later told her she would have had an abortion if possible at the time. At 15, Reichert had an abortion herself.
“I truly know what it’s like to see this issue from both sides,” she said. “My position is, I’m praying for the nation right now.”
Reichert said a close relation of hers called Friday crying and upset about the decision, but she also talked to people who were crying with happiness.
“I myself believe that we should defend life,” she said. “If this decision results in more babies like myself who were written off and were told we should never have been born, that we should have been aborted, and we can live productive and successful lives and enjoy every moment of our lives and defy all the people who said we don’t deserve to be born, then yes, today is a win. And young girls should never be told that their lives would be ruined and over just because they got pregnant.”
Awaken Church, which earlier this year hosted an appearance by Eric Trump and Michael Flynn at its San Marcos campus, posted on its Facebook page that the decision was a “step forward in restoring the sanctity of life.”
“This will allow states to protect their children from the violence of abortion, and a POWERFUL step toward justice for the 63 million American lives that have been stolen by abortion,” the post read. “The Word of God tells us that every human was created in the image of God with purpose and VALUE! The fight for life is just getting started and we cannot stop until every child is completely protected.
“Today, we celebrate the answering of the prayers of so many and pray for the safety of the justices who stood up for life, the foundational freedom,” the post continued.
Josh McClure, executive director of Pregnancy Care Clinic in El Cajon, said his organization was thankful for the Supreme Court decision.
“The Court made a bad call in 1973 based on presumptions we now know are untrue,” he wrote in a statement released from the center. “The science of DNA and embryology confirms the unborn are human and deserving of protection under the Constitution.
“The San Diego Pregnancy Centers remain ready to support women and men in the process of making a difficult decision with compassion, education about all their options, and ongoing support regardless of their decision,” he wrote, adding that the court’s decision “highlights the greater need for services like our Pregnancy Centers to welcome children into our communities.”
In National City, the co-founder of an organization that helps pregnant women and mothers with babies younger than 1 called the court decision a win for those “in favor of life.”
“I don’t think there is enough for our low-income families,” said Alejandra Arroyo, co-founder of Baby’s Room.
“They have limited options and education,” she said, adding that there must be a greater focus on “protecting life and providing the services they need at a young age” to prevent scenarios like unplanned pregnancies, particularly among girls in low-income areas.
Arroyo, who is Catholic, said helping women, particularly young, single mothers of low income who have little to no support systems, is more important than ever.