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Why Are Catholics Under Fire Over Roe V. Wade?

Newsweek logo Newsweek 5/6/2022 Ewan Palmer
Pro-choice activists embrace as they demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC. © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Pro-choice activists embrace as they demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Concerns have been raised about the threats of violence by abortion rights protesters as one group announced it will be targeting Catholic churches and the homes of the "extremist" Supreme Court judges who are believed to support overturning Roe. v Wade.

The "Ruth Sent Us" protest group, named after late Supreme Court judge and pioneering women's rights advocate Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is planning a day of action to coincide with Mother's Day in response to the reports the Supreme Court is planning to throw out the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.


As part of the protests on May 8, Ruth Sent Me encouraged demonstrations to be held outside the homes of six Supreme Court judges, the details of which they posted on a map on their website.

The pinpointed addresses are believed to be of those of Samuel Alito, who wrote the leaked draft majority opinion detailing the apparent approval to overturn Roe v. Wade, as well as Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts.

"Our 6-3 extremist Supreme Court routinely issues rulings that hurt women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights. We must rise up to force accountability using a diversity of tactics," the group said.

While the group states they are protesting "six extremist Catholics" who voted against Roe v. Wade, not all the justices they are targeting are Catholic or support overturning the ruling.

Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh and Barrett are Catholic, as is Roberts who reportedly did not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Gorsuch was raised Catholic, but is now an Episcopalian.

Ruth Sent Us also encouraged people to protest at Catholic churches on Sunday while sharing a video of their members appearing to interrupt a service while dressed as characters from The Handmaiden's Tale.

"Whether you're a 'Catholic for Choice' ex-Catholic, of other or no faith, recognize that six extremist Catholics set out to overturn Roe. Stand at or in a local Catholic Church Sun May 8," the group tweeted.

The planned protests will take place after a Catholic church in Boulder, Colorado, was vandalized amid the outcry over Roe v. Wade.

The words "My body my choice," "Keep your religion off our bodies" and "Abortion Saves Lives" were seen spray painted across the Sacred Heart of Mary church, reported The Denver Gazette.

This is not the first time that Catholicism and the Supreme Court's apparent plans to overturn Roe v. Wade have come under joint-scrutiny.

In 2020, liberal groups and Democrats raised fears that BarrettDonald Trump's Supreme Court pick—would attempt to roll back on abortion rights protected under Roe v. Wade if she filled the seat left vacant by Ginsburg's death because of her Catholic views.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is wrong in all circumstances and that life begins at conception.

Activists such as Ruth Sent Me are now suggesting that the Catholics who sit on the Supreme Court bench are using their religious beliefs to roll back the ruling which has made abortion a constitutional right in the U.S. for nearly 50 years.

Brian Burch, president of the Catholic advocacy organization Catholic Vote, urged President Joe Biden, who is Catholic, to "immediately and forcibly condemn these domestic terrorist threats" ahead of Sunday's protests.

"Anti-Catholic zealots are plotting to intimidate and harass Catholics across the country, along with justices and their families. This country was built on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The President of the United States must stand up for both," Burch said.

"We call on responsible leaders in Washington to unequivocally condemn these dangerous threats before they lead to violence, or worse."

There have been reports that far-right groups are planning to hold counter-protests against the abortion right demonstrations, which could further escalate tensions.

Rita Katz, the head of SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that shares threat information with law enforcement, said that extremist groups are not concerned with defending Catholicism or defending anti-abortion views, but are just targeting women with their planned demonstrations.

"For far-right extremists, the focus on Roe v. Wade isn't simply about religion or conventional debates about 'when life starts,'" Katz told Politico. "It's about the toxic resentment of feminism that unites the entire spectrum of these movements, from Neo-Nazis to QAnon."

Ruth Sent Me has been contacted for comment.

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