U.S. Bishops Urge Prayer as Supreme Court Prepares to Hear Cases on Abortion Pills

By Gina Christian

(OSV News) — As the Supreme Court prepares to address two cases regarding access to pills commonly used for early abortions, the Catholic bishops of the United States have issued a national call to prayer to end abortion and protect women and unborn children.

The invitation was issued on March 14 by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The prayer campaign, seeking the intercession of Saint Joseph as the "Defender of Life," begins on March 25, on the eve of the day the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the cases of Food and Drug Administration vs. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and Danco Laboratories vs. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. Both cases focus on the drug mifepristone and its widespread availability.

The start date also marks the anniversary of the publication of Pope Saint John Paul II's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") from 1995. The encyclical itself was published in celebration of that year's Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, which in 2024 falls on Monday, April 8.

The daily prayer for the campaign is available in Spanish and English at https://www.respectlife.org/prayer-to-st-joseph

"We ask Catholics to pray this prayer daily, from March 25 until June, when a decision is expected," wrote Archbishop Broglio and Bishop Burbidge.

First approved by the FDA in 2000, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which maintains proper conditions in the uterus during pregnancy. The drug is combined with misoprostol (initially created to treat gastric ulcers) as part of a chemical regimen used in over half of all abortions in the U.S. in 2020.

More recently, the same combination of pills has also been prescribed to women experiencing early-stage miscarriages to expel any fetal remains and residual pregnancy tissue from the uterus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists updated its protocols to recommend a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol as more effective than misoprostol alone for early miscarriage care, according to research published since 2018.

Last year, doctors and medical professionals represented by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine questioned the FDA's approval of mifepristone as unsafe.

While it dismissed the alliance's petition in August 2023, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned FDA efforts to increase access to the drug. Nonetheless, a previous injunction issued by the country's highest court has maintained broad access to the drug.

The bishops acknowledged that the upcoming Supreme Court case "does not deal with ending chemical abortion," but it still has the potential to "restore limitations the FDA has overridden."

"When a Supreme Court decision is released, likely in June, we can expect a public and political reaction similar to the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade," they wrote.

On March 11, Bishop Burbidge issued a statement expressing "great sorrow" after the body of a premature baby was found in a pond in Leesburg, Virginia.

The bishop urged the faithful to pray "for the mother of the child and for anyone involved in this incident," and offered burial services while highlighting diocesan resources for women in difficult pregnancies.

Gina Christian is a multimedia reporter for OSV News.

Image of St. Joseph by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.


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