The decision with which the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which established a constitutional right to abortion, has a historical significance that transcends the borders of the United States.
The alleged right to abortion is an ideological banner of progressivism, as demonstrated not only by the violent protests staged in many American states, but also by the anger of the leaders of the international left, such as Italian Democratic Party secretary Enrico Letta, who says the decision of the American Court “is the daughter of an ideological upheaval. (…) A step backward that generates discouragement and will foster suffering and spark conflict.” As if the legalization of abortion, in the United States and in the world, were not the daughter of a perverse ideological upheaval and had not generated trauma, fostered suffering, and constituted a social wound that was never healed, to the point of producing the healthy reaction that has reversed the American situation.
Enrico Letta’s slogan “step backward” is the one that has ricocheted from one end of the progressive world to the other. For fifty years America has been presented as the home of civil rights, and countries that did not align themselves with its legislation were flogged for their cultural and moral backwardness. Now the United States, trailblazer of history, is accused of having taken a “step” or “leap” backward. The admission of the possibility of “going back” marks the end of a conception of history understood as necessary and neverending improvement. Which means that history is not unidirectional, but can be traveled in two lanes and requires an objective order of values of reference to establish which of them is the morally viable one.
The ruling of the American Supreme Court shatters the myth of the irreversibility of a historical process that includes abortion, euthanasia, the legalization of homosexuality and gender. On each of these conquests of the anti-Christian Revolution, history could soon turn the page, as happened in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Supreme Court denies that abortion is a constitutional right at the federal level and transfers jurisdiction over it to the individual states of the Union, but one must be careful not to transpose from the juridical to the moral level the provision according to which the judgment on abortion “belongs to the people and their elected representatives.” To transfer sovereign power in the moral order to states means making the will of the majority the supreme source of morality. But “if man can decide by himself, without God, what is good and what is bad ,”John Paul II observes, “he can also determine that a group of people to be annihilated” (Memory and Identity, Rizzoli, New York 2005, p. 10). This is exactly what happens with abortion. Therefore, John Paul clearly reiterates, citing St. Thomas, “the law established by man, by parliaments, and by every other human legislator must not contradict the natural law, that is to say, the eternal law of God” (ibid., p. 134). The will of the states is therefore not the ultimate moral arbiter, just as the “tribunal of history” is not.
The polarization that has been created within the United States and the Supreme Court is, however, not political but moral: it is the unbridgeable rift that separates those who consider abortion a crime and those who consider it a human right. With the June 24 ruling the United States has confirmed that it is not the “Empire of Evil” withstood by pseudo-champions of human rights such as Russia and China, but a country still vital and capable of producing a turning point destined to change contemporary society.
The Supreme Court represents the pinnacle of the American establishment, but the majority of its judges, appointed by presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, have shown themselves to be courageous men and independent of any pressure. This is a reason for great hope in the future. However, it would be naive to give credit for the historic ruling to these few men alone. Behind this there is a deep America, as American episcopal conference president José H. Gomez and episcopal commission for life president William F. Lori rightly pointed out in a statement of June 24: “Today’s decision is also the fruit of the prayers, sacrifices, and advocacy of countless ordinary Americans from every walk of life. Over these long years, millions of our fellow citizens have worked together peacefully to educate and persuade their neighbors about the injustice of abortion, to offer care and counseling to women, and to work for alternatives to abortion, including adoption, foster care, and public policies that truly support families. We share their joy today and we are grateful to them. Their work for the cause of life reflects all that is good in our democracy, and the pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nation’s history.”
Unfortunately, in Italy and in the world the political right is not united in the defense of life, but often expresses itself in an equivocal way, unlike the left, which propagandizes for abortion everywhere with extreme clarity of purpose. The pro-life movements themselves are often on the defensive and undergo divisions among themselves that keep them from doing battle with a cohesive and united front. Yet the lesson that comes from the United States is evident: when the fight is carried out with perseverance, and above all without compromise, God’s help intervenes and decides the victory.