Abortion and Public Policy: Review of U.S. Catholic Bishops' Teaching and the Future

Issues Law Med. 2022 Fall;37(2):129-164.


The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops have been earnest participants in the contemporary public policy debate on abortion. This article reviews the bishops' main policy documents in which the Church's teaching on abortion is applied, first, within the context of the debate on abortion policy that was underway in the states before Roe v. Wade, and, second, within the grave and challenging situation thereafter when a right to abortion was made the law of the land. Whether discussing court cases, statutory law, human life bills, or various proposals to amend the Constitution, the bishops raised up a broad vision of full protection in law for all human beings, born and unborn, and promoted a comprehensive program of education, pastoral care, public policy, and prayer. Building off this review the article concludes with some initial reflections on the Dobbs world in which the Court has returned the abortion issue to the people and their elected representatives.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Abortion, Legal
  • Catholicism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Policy
  • United States