The Abortion States of America


November 16, 2021

Roe v. Wade and so-called “abortion rights” are facing challenges unlike any time before, especially via the Texas heartbeat bill. The chances of abortion being sent back to the states are higher than ever. As that prospect looms, faithful Catholics are being treated to a tragic spectacle: “pro-choice” Catholic leaders stepping forward to do everything within their power to protect unrestricted abortion. These abortion Catholics do so with the support of many Catholic voters and are effectively abetted by many Catholic clergy who, for decades, have not stopped them. These Catholic statesmen and stateswomen also do so as proud products of America’s Catholic schools, from K-12 to college to Catholic law schools.

Leading the charge at the state level are the likes of New York’s new pro-choice Catholic governor, Kathy Hochul (who succeeded New York’s old pro-choice Catholic governor, Andrew Cuomo) and Governor Gavin Newsom of California.

Hochul and Newsom stand as poster-girl and poster-boy for this new abortion front. Vigorously supported by activist pro-choice Catholic president Joe Biden, they are hellbent on battling the Texas effort to limit abortions to the time of the unborn child’s heartbeat. The Texas action outrages Joe Biden, who has promised to throw the “whole of government” against the Texas bill, enlisting his “best lawyers” at the Department of Justice and at Health and Human Services. The Texas action infuriates Govs. Hochul and Newsom, who have responded by offering their states as destination centers for women of Texas and elsewhere to come for abortions.

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“Abortion access is safe in New York,” Hochul ensured. “The rights of those who are seeking abortion services will always be protected here. To the women of Texas, I want to say I am with you. Lady Liberty is here to welcome you with open arms.” Hochul vows: “We will help you find a way to New York and we are right now looking intensely to find what resources we can bring to the table to help you have safe transport here and let you know there are providers who will assist you.” 

The Catholic governor is careful to include “birthing persons” in her invitation: “I am proud that New York is leading the fight to ensure that every woman and birthing person has access to abortion care.”

As for Gavin Newsom, he vows to make California a “reproductive freedom state.” “These are dark days,” says Newsom. “I don’t think one can understate the consequential nature of the moment that we are living in. It becomes of outsized importance that California assert itself.”

Both professing Catholics are, of course, engaging in blatant violations of Church teaching on unborn human life. Sections 2271-2272 of the Catechism state: “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.” 

The likes of Hochul and Newsom obviously greet such teachings with a shrug or sneer. And don’t dare tell any of these pro-choice Catholics they can be denied the Eucharist over this. As California Congressman Ted Lieu put it to priests and bishops: “Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion.” 

In truth, Lieu need not make any threats. The bishops likely will do little to deny him, many of them mortally offended that doing so would bring them accusations of “politicizing” the Eucharist. Pope Francis’ Vatican seems to have sent that signal as well, even as the pope repeatedly refers to abortion as “murder” and “homicide” prior to friendly meetings with the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. 

Pro-choice Catholic legislators nationwide, like Lieu, are fully on offense, not defense. 

What’s happening with states like California and New York is something that many of us have long expected. Namely, if Roe v. Wade is reversed or curtailed by the U.S. Supreme Court—as it should be, given that Roe is a constitutional absurdity—abortion will be turned over to the states. 

This is not the place to take a deep dive into the obvious unconstitutionality of Roe v. Wade, but I’ll offer just a few lines: 

Roe is ridiculously based on a “right” to an abortion invented and extended from a so-called “penumbra” or “shadow” of a “right to privacy” lurking somewhere in the arcane recesses of the Constitution. In fact, neither abortion nor even the word “privacy” are mentioned in the Constitution—no, not one time—even as the rights and protection of “life” are mentioned three times (in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments). 

Yes, shocking but true.

One can certainly argue that when the framers mentioned life, they were not thinking of abortion. No doubt that is correct. But still, a pro-lifer looking for a right to “life” in the Constitution clearly has a little more to grab on to than a pro-choicer looking for a right to abortion or even “privacy.”

Roe v. Wade is a legal abomination that any sane jurist not poisoned by ideology would concede is utterly without foundation in the U.S. Constitution. The legal “logic” behind Roe is such a farce that one ought to fall over laughing at it, if not for the fact that it was tragically employed to make possible the legal termination of over 60 million unborn babies since 1973. 

The reality is that the Constitution is silent on abortion, which is why the federal government should never have enshrined it. It should have been left to the states.

This was something that Judge Robert Bork tried to explain to Senators Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy and feminists and liberals everywhere over 30 years ago, and for which he was called everything from a misogynist to a gargoyle. But there’s a very good chance that’s exactly where we’re now headed.

If so, what will happen to abortion in America? Well, some states will embrace it far and above others. Which states? The answer is pretty simple and predictable. Go to political maps of presidential elections and look at the so-called blue states vs. red states; that is, Democrat states vs. Republican states. The firmly-Democrat states, especially on the West Coast and northeast, from the very left-wing Oregon to the monolithically liberal Massachusetts, will become America’s Abortion States. They will roll out the red carpet. (So will the District of Columbia, where Attorney General Karl Racine issued a press announcement welcoming abortion-seekers to D.C. “In the District we value reproductive rights,” says Racine, “and we are open for care to those who live here and those traveling from other states.”)

A telling piece published at cites a report by the Guttmacher Institute estimating that if the high court overturns Roe, 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortion almost immediately.” 

That brings me back to New York and California, which will fly the Roe flag as premier destination centers for abortion.

My colleague Anne Hendershott recently posted an excellent piece, titled “The Return of Abortion Tourism,” where she noted, “we are already witnessing the return of the pre-Roe era of ‘abortion tourism.’” She writes of Kathy Hochul’s New York:

It is likely that once again—as in the early 1970s—New York City will be the deadly destination of choice for women seeking abortion outside of their home states…. 

Promising to provide “safe passage” for women, Hochul is resurrecting the very lucrative pre-Roe abortion tourism for abortion seekers from all over the country. Replete with abortion packages including airfare, limo rides from New York City’s airports to abortion facilities, pre-and post-abortion hotel stays, and surgical services….

Abortion tourism emerged in 1970, during the years prior to Roe v. Wade, when New York State repealed all laws criminalizing abortion. By 1972, more than 100,000 women traveled to New York City for abortions; more than half of them traveled more than 500 miles from their home states to terminate the lives of their unborn children. New York quickly became the national destination of choice for abortion.

Hendershott underscores the “financial windfall” that this will provide to abortion providers in states like New York: “The financial benefits to the abortion industry—and to their pro-abortion politician enablers—in New York State will be tremendous.”

This process has already begun. The governors of New York and California are eager and excited about the possibility for their citizens.

To that end, one wonders how the emergence of these Abortion States will affect pro-life residents of those states. Personally, if I lived in one of these states, I would honestly be compelled to make plans to relocate. I could not in good conscience support this outrage with my tax dollars. No way.

This is where we seem to be headed in America: Abortion States. And it appears to be lifelong professing Roman Catholics leading the way, as voters and too many shepherds of their Church do little to nothing to stop them.


  • Paul Kengor

    Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of the Center for Vision and Values. He is the author, most recently, of The Devil and Karl Marx (TAN Books, 2020). He is also the editor of The American Spectator.

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