U.S. bishops call for ‘focused effort of prayer’ ahead of Supreme Court abortion pill hearings — By: Catholic News Agency

Katie Mahoney, Rev. Pat Mahoney, Peggy Nienaber of Faith and Liberty, and Mark Lee Dickson of Right to Life East Texas pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Mar 18, 2024 / 12:55 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops are calling for a nationwide prayer campaign ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing next week that could affect the availability of the abortion pill mifepristone.

The court last year said it would review a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling decided in August 2023 that imposed restrictions on the abortion pill based on safety concerns. The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision could curtail the shipping of the drug through the mail. 

The hearing is scheduled for March 26. In a letter this month, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president Archbishop Timothy Broglio and USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities chairman Archbishop Michael Burbidge said they were “inviting Catholics to join a focused effort of prayer” for “the end of abortion and the protection of women and preborn children” starting on March 25. 

The bishops said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), through its allowance of mailed abortion pills, “has enabled a nationwide mail-order abortion industry and turned neighborhood pharmacies into chemical abortion providers.” 

Those pills “are now the most common form of abortion in the United States,” the bishops pointed out. 

The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision on the matter, the bishops noted, “has the potential to make a major impact in the widespread accessibility of chemical abortion.”

“While the Supreme Court case is not about ending chemical abortion, it can restore limitations that the FDA has overridden,” they wrote. 

The prayer campaign — which will begin on the anniversary of St. John Paul II’s pro-life encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) — will invoke the intercession of St. Joseph under his title “Defender of Life.”

“We ask Catholics to offer this prayer daily, from March 25 through June, when a decision is expected,” the bishops wrote. 

The FDA’s regulation of abortion pills was subject to a whipsaw series of court decisions last year. In 2022, several pro-life groups and individuals, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), sued the FDA arguing that the administration failed to use the proper channels and hurriedly approved the drug in 2000 without weighing its severe risks to women.

Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a controversial ruling on April 7, 2023, that suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone on the grounds that the agency had “acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns” and approved the drug “based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.”

The Biden administration immediately issued an emergency appeal to block the ruling, first to a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit and then to the Supreme Court. 

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Kacsmaryk’s ruling and returned the case to the 5th Circuit for full review, leading to the ruling in August, which will be the subject of the Supreme Court’s March hearing. 

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