Catholic Bishops of Florida Issue Statement on 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Sheila S. Hopkins
Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life
(850) 205-6826

Tallahassee, FL – The bishops of Florida have issued a statement to somberly mark the 40th anniversary of the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. This tragic decision, which made it lawful to abort a child at any stage of development prior to birth, has resulted in the deaths of over 55 million unborn children and lifelong harm to both women and men affected by the act of abortion. The Roe decision has led to a culture that devalues the life of the unborn child. “Abortion is seen as the solution to an unforeseen problem,” state the bishops. “No person, made in the image and likeness of God, is a problem. In fact each human being is a blessing from God.”

As a sign of hope, the Florida Catholic Conference has developed a web page that identifies activities in which the Catholic faithful in Florida has been engaged over the past four decades to defend unborn life, promote support for pregnant mothers and provide counseling to women who have suffered an abortion. This page is found at:


The full statement follows:

Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida
on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
January 22, 2013

It is with deep sorrow and regret that we mark this 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court. This Supreme Court decision denied American citizens the legal authority to protect the basic rights of an entire class of human beings effectively making abortions lawful at any time before birth.

We are saddened by a culture that devalues the life of an unborn child, and considers fertility a “disease” and pregnancy a “pathology”. Catholic teaching on life is supported by science and reason: unborn children are human beings and abortion hurts women and men. No human being should be discriminated against or suffer the loss of life because of their stage of development.

Two generations have grown up with the notion, constantly fueled by media messages, that sex is a “recreational activity”, that can be engaged in without thought of any possible consequences such as pregnancy or emotional harm. Abortion is seen as the solution to an unforeseen problem. No person, made in the image and likeness of God, is a problem. In fact each human being is a blessing from God.

The 55 million abortions in these last 40 years have weakened our society.  Women, as the bearers of life deserve our high esteem. Following abortion, many suffer lifelong consequences, such as depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. The victims of abortion include not only the mother and the unborn child whose life is ended in the womb, but also men who have mistakenly viewed an abortion as a legitimate “choice”. In 28 studies of men’s reactions to abortion*, feelings experienced were similar to women’s – grief, guilt, and chronic post-traumatic stress. Our parishes remain ready to assist these women and men in a process of healing and peace.

Also disturbing is the current trend of using abortion for sex selection – an unborn child, usually female, is deemed expendable. The “sexual revolution” in separating the link between sexual activity and procreation also has changed the view of marriage and the family as the commitment of one man and one woman to a lifelong relationship where children are born and nurtured.

Nevertheless, we do recognize signs of hope. Since 2006, abortions in Florida have decreased by 20% due to action on many fronts: laws requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion; the prayers of people outside abortion clinics and the growing numbers of pregnancy centers offering counseling and assistance to pregnant women, rescuing them from a life of regret. No woman should face a challenging pregnancy alone. All of us have an obligation, not only to an unborn child, but also to his or her mother. We are grateful to those generous persons who have helped women who have suffered an abortion so that they may heal emotionally and find a measure of peace and forgiveness.

We are united in our resolve to pursue full legal recognition of the right to life of every unborn child.  We will continue to support pregnant women and their children, and work and pray to bring to an end this modern day “slaughter of the innocents”. 40 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion is not a settled issue in America. 

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski
Archdiocese of Miami M

Most Revered Gerald M. Barbarito
Diocese of Palm Beach

Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch
Diocese of St. Petersburg

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Diocese of Venice

Most Reverend John G. Noonan
Diocese of Orlando

Most Reverend Felipe J. Estévez
Diocese of St. Augustine

Most Reverend Gregory L. Parkes
Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

*“The Hollow Men”: Male Grief & Trauma Following Abortion, Vincent M. Rue, Ph.D.

Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Spanish

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The Florida Catholic Conference is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy and serves as liaison to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.