WASHINGTON—Two days after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, no protesters could be seen outside Washington’s Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Situated next to the campus of The Catholic University of America (CUA), the shrine is the largest Catholic church in North America.
Yet, after the Department of Homeland Security warned of violence against Catholic churches, “America’s Catholic Church” wasn’t taking any chances. Their own security staff and at least one Washington Metro Police officer patrolled the grounds as visitors streamed in and out.
Before the 10:30 a.m. mass began, the faithful quietly navigated the enormous church. Some stopped to pray at the upper church’s many chapels.
The mass itself included a prayer to religious freedom, commemorating “the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good;” and the United States, described as “this blessed land.”
In a series of interviews with The Epoch Times, visitors to the shrine shared their joy over the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson.
“Science demonstrates that life starts from conception, so it’s good news,” said Ignacio Cassana.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity we now have to change the culture,” said Meredith Rice.
Rice, who works at nearby CUA, said she was somewhat afraid of violence in the wake of Dobbs.
Two people were arrested on June 25 for allegedly throwing paint over a fence separating protesters from the Supreme Court building.
In the days since the decision came down, pregnancy centers in Virginia and Colorado have been vandalized.
Meanwhile, threats to assassinate the justices who formed the Dobbs majority have proliferated on social media, sometimes staying up for hours or even days despite reports from concerned users.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Twitter’s communications team for comment on the threats screenshotted below:
“It’s extreme and it’s concerning, especially when the result of this decision is actually to allow democratic processes to work, which means that people who are doing these things are not willing to engage in the democratic process,” Rice said regarding the violent threats coming from pro-abortion activists.
Generations of Hard Work
For pro-life Christians, the fall of Roe after almost half a century affirms generations of faith, prayer, and hard work.
“This is a time for a lot of hope, but it’s also a time for a lot of reflection about how [we] change the culture,” Rice said.
Michael and Elizabeth Magner told The Epoch Times they were in town from New Orleans for a meeting. They came to the shrine to attend mass.
The Magners, both lawyers, believe Dobbs was the correct decision.
“It was fifty years ago that the Supreme Court made a ruling out of whole cloth, and people seem shocked that it was overturned,” Elizabeth Magner said.
Some commentators worry that Dobbs could undermine other precedents based on substantive due process in the Fourteenth Amendment, including the Obergefell decision on gay marriage and the Griswold decision on contraception.
“There’s some concern for that. We’ll see if they [SCOTUS] take a slower course,” Michael Magner said.
In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas opined that substantive due process is both unconstitutional and “an oxymoron,” stating, “We should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.”
The opinion of the court, by contrast, holds back on seeking to junk substantive due process, instead arguing that the nation’s history shows the right to abortion is not protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
“The justices did take pains to go through the history of all of these decisions and explain why this decision could be distinguished,” Elizabeth Magner said.
The couple, who said they are faithful Catholics, told The Epoch Times they haven’t experienced any protests or threats.
“We do find that people on the other side are very, very angry, and are hostile to us, so we tend to keep our heads down a little bit. We do talk to people who are willing to listen and have a conversation,” Elizabeth Magner said.
Afternoon Heats Up
Another sweltering afternoon brought hundreds of pro-abortion protesters back to the Supreme Court building. They clashed with a small group of anti-abortion activists.
Both pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists maintained an uneasy relationship with the U.S. Capitol Police, who stepped in to separate the two camps.
Sheyla Tellez, an anti-abortion activist from California, stepped away from the heated back-and-forth to speak with The Epoch Times.
“I want women to realize they have other options,” she said, noting that pro-life pregnancy centers increasingly outnumber abortion clinics.
“I think it’s not actually a solution to end a human life,” she added.
Tellez questioned the argument from many pro-abortion activists on the scene that opponents of abortion are racist.
She pointed out that Planned Parenthood was founded by a proponent of eugenics, Margaret Sanger.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous that they call us white supremacists. You’re looking at me right now,” she added, noting that her own parents were Mexican immigrants.
While angry verbal clashes between the camps took center stage, protesters from both sides told The Epoch Times that they had constructive dialogues with their opponents.
“There have been many great conversations with people who really did not understand what Roe actually did,” said Mark Lee Dickson, a director with Right to Life East Texas, in an interview with The Epoch Times.
“Many people, I believe, are actually okay with the idea of their legislatures deciding this issue,” he added, before stating that “now, the fight is to abolish abortion completely.”
One anti-SCOTUS protester from Texas, Rick Erickson, said he shook hands with an anti-abortion activist he debated.
“I was not for the federal law that was put in place with Roe, but really, it should be up to the states—and as all 50 states. We should come up with a plan,” he told The Epoch Times about his belief that all 50 states should coordinate and come up with a singular plan.
“It looks pretty peaceful. Everyone’s getting their voices heard,” said Jeff Sauer, a Texan who described himself as pro-life, in an interview with The Epoch Times.
He and his son, Carter, were not there to protest. They described themselves as tourists, just passing through the crowd.
“I’m upset because I violently disagree with them [anti-abortion protesters], but everybody has a right to be here,” said Samantha, a pro-abortion protester who would not provide her last name.
Yet, at least some pro-abortion demonstrators on the scene could not imagine such conversations going very far.
“I’m worried about getting into a conversation with someone and then being accused of being too emotional, or being a snowflake,” said Juliette, a pro-abortion protester from Alexandria, Virginia, in an interview with The Epoch Times. She and her father, John, would not provide their last names.
“The reality is, if I got in a conversation with them, I would probably get angry,” John told The Epoch Times.
Read our Day 1 coverage here.
From The Epoch Times