America could be on the brink of a major decision on abortion that could lead to the saving of millions of unborn children. What impact would it have on America and the rest of the world? Here we present some FAQs to help you understand what's happening.

What is Roe v Wade?
In 1973, Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”) challenged Texas’ law which prohibited doctors from performing abortions.  “Wade” was Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas. In the Roe vs Wade decision the Supreme Court decided that abortion was a ‘right’ found in the 14th amendment of the US Constitution.

What then happened?
The Roe decision struck down many State laws and made abortion a Federal issue in the United States.  The plaintiff, Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”)  eventually became a Catholic and campaigned against abortion.

What is the key legal point being argued?
The US Constitution does not refer to abortion, so the claim that there is a right to it, which was the foundation for the 1973 decision, has no basis in fact.

Why is it in the news?
This week media reports are suggesting the Court has decided that Roe will be overturned. This follows a leaked draft majority opinion that has been widely reported.

What does the Court say about Roe v Wade?
Justice Alito, in the leaked document, is reported to have written: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion and no such right is implicitly protected”.

What else is he reported to have written?
He notes that “a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions” and “Roe was on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided”.   He concludes: “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.  Roe… must be overruled and the authority must be returned to the people and their elected representatives”.

Does it mean abortion will be banned in the US?
It does not mean abortion will banned in the US - pro-abortion media and commentators are exaggerating the effects of the draft decision.

So what will it mean?
If overturned, US abortion laws will be decided by individual states rather than at a Federal level.  This is consistent with Catholic social teaching and the principle of subsidiarity which holds that political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.

So that’s good for unborn children and their mothers?
Yes. States in the US that want to democratically pass pro-life laws would be able to do so and lives will be saved as a result.

This is happening in America, why should I care?
Because potentially millions of human lives will be saved from the horror of abortion. The impact of a decision to overturn Roe v Wade will be felt around the world.

How many abortions have taken place in the UK?
9,898,425 lives have been lost as a result of 54 years of legal abortion in the UK.

What about Scotland?
In Scotland, women from the poorest areas have abortion rates twice as high as those from wealthy areas. Being genuinely ‘pro-choice’ means supporting women who want to keep their children so they are not forced into abortion for economic reasons.

Has the First Minister commented on Roe v Wade?

Nicola Sturgeon posted on Twitter: "The right of women to decide what happens to our own bodies is a human right. And experience tells us that removing the legal right to abortion doesn’t stop abortions happening - it just makes them unsafe and puts the lives of women at much greater risk."

Is she open to dialogue on the issue?
It doesn't appear so. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children posted a Tweet showing she had blocked them on Twitter.

What is the Catholic teaching on abortion?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception" (2270) and "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion." (2271).

What does Pope Francis say about abortion?
Speaking to media in 2021, he said: "Abortion is murder.. Those who carry out abortions kill. At the third week after conception, often even before the mother is aware (of being pregnant), all the organs are already (starting to develop). It is a human life. Period. And this human life has to be respected.."

What pro-life work happens in our Archdiocese?
We have a pro-life office which helps provide real choices and support to women in unexpected pregnancy situations. Recently, Stanton Healthcare has been established in Edinburgh to give support to women facing a crisis pregnancy. Recently, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children hosted it annual pro-life chain in Edinburgh.

What can I do?
Catholic social teaching has always placed special emphasis on helping those in need. Caring for unborn children and their mothers follows Jesus’ instructions in St Matthew’s Gospel (see below). Please pray for an end to killing of the most vulnerable humans - the unborn.

Contact our Pro-Life Office
Could you help unborn children and their mothers in our Archdiocese? There are lots of different ways to help. Contact Paul Atkin at the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Office: 0131 623 8917 |

PDF version of above infographic here.