12 May 2022, The Tablet

How the abortion debate has become a defining feature of the culture wars

How the abortion debate has become a defining feature of the culture wars

An abortion-rights protester holds a sign during a rally at the Columbia County Court House in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 2022.
Photo by Paul Weaver/Sipa USA


The Catholic Church will have a vital role if the struggle over abortion moves to the state level.

Overturning Roe would not criminalise abortion nationwide. Instead, the issue would be sent back to state legislatures. Different states were beginning to debate their abortion regulations in the late-1960s. The Roe decision cut that political process short, and the ensuing debate about overturning Roe has been a defining feature of the culture wars ever since, and the role of Catholicism in the public square has changed with it.

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, regulation of abortion will return to the states. But we won’t return to 1973 – 50 years of culture wars, as well as developments in abortion techniques, have completely changed the context,” Professor Cathleen Kaveny, who teaches both theology and law at Boston College, says. “The next battles, I predict, will be over whether medical [non-surgical] abortions can be prescribed and provided over state lines, and whether states can prevent their citizens from travelling to obtain an abortion.”


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