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Viewpoint

Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone

“Do not fear, for I am with you, be not afraid, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

These words echo in the hearts of many of us in the Notre Dame family. The past few years have been strenuous, to say the least, both for our school and our country. We students have never before experienced such unrest, turmoil and division. In the challenges and hardships of our everyday lives, it is so easy to forget that our Lord God is with us in all things.

We as a nation overturned an immense court decision that will have an effect on the lives of our families, our friends and our peers. In a world filled with death, we have truly taken the first step toward building a culture of life. For those unaware of the existent networks of support, protection, dependence, radical hospitality and abundant love for women in crisis, this decision understandably evokes a lot of fear.

In a post-Roe world, our society must remember the responsibility we have to each other: to support and protect the dignity and value of every human life, mother and child. We as human beings are intrinsically dependent on one another. We must rely on others for support and care, providing them the same in return.

We must learn to be not afraid. We must embrace the understanding that we are not alone. We must embrace the call to abundantly love and serve one another. In the words of the Gospel, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (John 4:18).

We see the division on our campus, and in our nation, on the issue of abortion. We understand the fear and anxiety of those who are uncertain of what the future holds. It is with all this in mind that we call each and every one of you to join us in reflecting upon our role in creating a society with respect and support for all human life.

As stated by Professor O. Carter Snead, Director of the Notre Dame De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, in a post-Roe America, it has never been more important to ensure the “intrinsic equal dignity and value of every human life and to create a society where every child (born and unborn), mother and family is welcomed into a network of support and protection and loved unconditionally, from conception throughout the human lifespan.”

In accordance with the mission of the University and the Catholic Church, we embrace the fact that “appropriate and effective programs of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae).

By supporting local and national organizations and initiatives, maternity leave policies, childcare benefits, adoption and foster care, education, housing, employment and health care, we are prepared to show women that they need not be afraid and that they will never be alone. We reflect this sentiment in our theme for this year’s Respect Life Week programming: Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone.

This Respect Life Week will feature prayer, service and educational initiatives as we remind one another to trust in God, remain peaceful in uncertainty and support one another in our needs both big and small. Supporting each person’s unique and intrinsic dignity begins with recognizing the gift that your life is to others. God is with you in all things, He has a plan for you and He will never leave you alone.

We invite you to join us in welcoming Robin Sertell, author of Miracles Happen in the Wilderness and known for her story of surviving three separate abortion attempts while in her mother’s womb. Her keynote address, Abortion Isn’t Final: Exposing the secrets that the abortion industry doesn’t want you to know, will be held in the LaFortune Ballroom on September 29th at 7 pm.

Gather with us after 10 am Basilica Mass on Sunday, September 25th for brunch and fellowship in the LaFortune Ballroom. Partner with us in supporting mothers in a post-Roe world as we hold a week-long maternity clothing drive for the Family Resource Center and volunteer at the Women’s Care Center. Pray with us for the lives lost to abortion as we hold a memorial for the unborn on Wednesday, September 28th. A full schedule of the week’s events can be found here.

We invite you to join us on our mission this year, to abundantly and joyfully love and support others and to discover in return the fruits of a society that understands the nature of the human condition: we are dependent on one another, we support one another and no one, truly, is alone.

In life and love,

Merlot Fogarty
President Notre Dame Right to Life

Categories
News

Students react to the reversal of Roe v. Wade

On June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.

In the original Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court established that women have the right to privacy with their doctor, and therefore states could not interfere with a woman’s choice to get an abortion.

Dobbs v. Jackson ruled that the right to privacy is not explicit within the Constitution, meaning it will now be up to the states to decide if abortions are allowed.

The decision has already had profound impacts across the country, but on a Catholic campus with a number of progressive students, the controversy is even more pronounced.

Campus groups against abortion have signaled their approval of overturning Roe.

One club that has actively spoken about its positive opinion on the decision is Notre Dame Right To Life. Their formal statement on Dobbs can be read on their website. 

Merlot Fogarty, president of Right To Life, said she feels the Supreme Court has now made the right decision.

“I definitely think that Roe was wrongly decided at the very beginning. If you do read the Dobbs decision, the right to privacy really isn’t mentioned,” Fogarty said. 

She said the reversal was important as an admission of mistakes made by past courts. 

“I think this decision definitely opened people up to the awareness that there can be wrongly-decided cases, and there can be mistakes made by the Supreme Court,” Fogarty said. 

Fogarty was in Indianapolis when a new abortion bill for the state of Indiana was debated. It will soon become Indiana law that women cannot get abortions with few exceptions, such as rape, incest, health of the mother and fatal fetal abnormalities, according to reporting by the Indianapolis Star.

Fogarty said she was glad Indiana called a special session to pass this bill. She only wishes the bill were stricter. 

For instance, Fogarty said she feels that rape is “not the fault of the baby” and that abortion punishes the fetus for its father’s crime.

“We’re able to work on getting rid of these exceptions and valuing life, regardless of the circumstances of the conception,” Fogarty said. 

But there is also a side to the debate unhappy with the decision. Irish 4 Reproductive Health, a leading group in support of reproductive health access, declined The Observer’s request to speak in an interview.

“Given the work that we do as an organization and the contentious nature of the political landscape on these issues right now, we would rather not have our positions beyond that up for interpretation,” the group said in an email.

Katie Werner, communications director of College Democrats and vice president of Jewish Club, spoke for the opposing side. She said she is not representing the clubs she is a member of in this interview. 

[Editor’s note: Werner is a former news writer for The Observer.]

Having lived in the southern United States for the past six years, Werner said the Dobbs decision will lead to a harsh reality for her and her friends back home. 

“I’m very concerned, because I think that the nearest abortion clinic, like even Planned Parenthood for cheaper healthcare, is like six to eight hours away,” she said.

Beyond concerns for her female friends, Werner said the decision in the Dobbs case has religious implications. She is involved in her Jewish faith and said she follows certain expectations that her religious texts place on her that do not follow the Dobbs decision. 

“The reformed Jewish sect is pro-choice,” Werner said.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no mention of privacy in the Constitution, Werner worries it will affect LBGTQ+ rights, contraceptive rights and more.

“It’s super dangerous because they’re gonna start taking so many progressive rights,” she said. 

Werner said she and many of her friends share the same view on the situation but are unsure how to move forward because the campus atmosphere are making it hard for people with her views to take a stand. 

“I’m kind of at a loss, and there’s a lot of silence, which is awful. It’s only coming from pro-choicers, obviously, so it’s just so unfair,” Werner said.

The new Indiana abortion bill will take effect on Sept. 15.

Emma Duffy

Contact Emma at eduffy5@nd.edu.