Several pro-choice protests and vandalism at Catholic churches across the nation following a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court which showed that federal protections for abortion may soon be in jeopardy. But whether such demonstrations will have an impact on Catholic voters is uncertain.
Plans for the Mother’s Day protests — orchestrated primarily through social media sites like Twitter, TikTok and Reddit — appear to target the religion of some Supreme Court justices after the draft high court draft opinion striking down its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which grants federal protections for abortion, was leaked to the public last week.
ACTIVISTS LAY OUT PLANS FOR ROE V. WADE PROTESTS OUTSIDE CATHOLIC CHURCHES ON MOTHER’S DAY
As previously reported, a group known as “Ruth Sent Us,” which has a TikTok account with more than 20,000 followers, initially posted a video of a group of women wearing costumes inspired by Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaids Tale” walking into what appears to be the front of a Catholic Church during Mass.
Other activist groups — including “Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights,” “Pro Choice with Heart,” “Strike for Choice” and others — are also calling for protests between May 8 and May 15. In addition, reports of churches being vandalized surfaced last week after the release of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion.
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, a non-profit conservative political advocacy group, told Fox News Digital over the weekend that he believes Democrats are in hot water amid the ongoing church protests as midterm elections near.
REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: WHAT THE SUPREME COURT’S LEAKED DRAFT OPINION MEANS FOR CONGRESS
“Democrats are in a difficult position,” Burch said. “Their base is clamoring for a full-throated, restriction free, abortion rights policy, yet the majority of voters aren’t with them. I think this is another example of Democrats misreading the public and overreaching. They’ve done it on parental rights, on schools, curriculum, race, and now abortion.”
“The leaked opinion is actually a compromise on abortion,” Burch said. “It merely returns the issue to the states to work out how to best care for unborn children and their mothers. It imposes nothing. As far as Catholics are concerned, Catholics are very practical voters, which is why many of them swing both of the political parties. I think Democrats need some Catholics in order to win many key races and to the extent that Democrats align themselves with the extreme left, I think they’re playing with fire.”
Burch, discussing the destruction of Catholic churches over the years, said he believes there will be “universal condemnation among Catholics” regarding the recent vandalism. “Both Democrats and Republicans do not want to see their houses of worship defaced or destroyed or their shrines and symbols destroyed.”
Burch also took aim at the Biden administration’s response to recent protests targeting the Catholics and their faith, saying it is “shameful that he has yet to say anything against these open threats.”
“I think this president has made clear that he prioritizes his political success over his faith,” Burch said. “He’s done that on policy, and now he’s doing it on a very pressing issue, a significant issue, when it comes to threats on the property of Catholic churches.”
Ultimately, Burch said he believes that Biden “won’t have a choice” in speaking out against the protests should they get out of hand. Burch said that Catholic voters, and voters overall, are “looking for leadership.” Burch said Americans long for “political leaders who can bring the country together, that will respect the faith, not just the property, but the faith and belief of millions of Americans.”
OVER 63 MILLION ABORTIONS HAVE OCCURED IN THE US SINCE ROE V. WADE DECISION IN 1973
“Like it or not, tens of millions of Americans believe that we have an obligation to do whatever we can to protect unborn children in our democracy,” he said.
On the contrary, John White, a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., told Fox News Digital that he believes the current protests from pro-choice activists at Catholic churches across America do little to influence public opinion and that it is still too early to definitively say how the actions from some activists will influence Catholic voters.
“I’m not sure that they move public opinion all that much,” White said. “You’re just seeing the activists on both sides here. I think the issue is a complicated one, public opinion wise, and I think that it’s more nuance than people believe.”
Pointing to a recent study from the Pew Research Center regarding public opinion of abortion, White said the public’s stance on the issue of abortion has been “very stable over the decades.”
“Americans generally support abortion in the first trimester, they don’t support it as a form of birth control,” he said. “They do support it in terms of rape, incest, life of the mother, they don’t support abortion in the second and third trimesters and all of that is definitely been very, very stable over the years, frankly. So, I don’t think that the ending of Roe changes that aspect of public opinion.”
Noting that he believes the “reasoning is important,” White said he believes a reversal of Roe v. Wade, should a dissent cite that abortion is not a right enumerated in the constitution, opens up a “kind of pandora’s box on privacy rights, birth control, gay marriage, and so forth.”
ROE V. WADE: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT THE LEAKED SUPREME COURT DRAFT COULD SIGNAL
“With respect to Catholics… if you look at church-going Catholics — that is once a week or more than that — they are definitely on the pro-life side,” White said. “The decision may motivate them more, but they were already with the Republicans, generally, anyway. It’s not necessarily religious identity that people carry first and foremost into the voting booth like they did, say in 1960. What the real divide is now is between those who attend church regularly and those that don’t.… That’s the real difference and that is very much there among Catholics as well.”
White said he believes the protests that are taking place will not move Catholics that do not attend church regularly to side with Republicans. “It may, in fact, move them a little bit more to the Democrats.”
“We still don’t know yet, it’s early,” White said of the effect on Catholic voters. “We don’t have the final opinion, but you have to think what is going to be the most on the minds of voters come November. Is it gonna be inflation, the economy or is it gonna be this issue? I still think it’s inflation and the economy, generally.”
Reiterating that he does not believe the “protests move public opinion one way or the other,” White said the protests “demonstrate a certain intensity on both sides.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Dr. Grazie Christie, a senior fellow for The Catholic Association, said that “the anti-child, anti-mother abortion brigades have chosen Mother’s Day — of all days — to invade our sacred churches.”
“But then, we already know not even life is sacred to them,” she said. “They are wasting their time. People of faith will not be intimidated by their harassment and threats. And mothers know how to deal with childish temper tantrums.”
A Guttmacher Institute study found that of the women who had abortions in 2014, 62% reported a religious affiliation — 24% were Catholic, 17% were mainline Protestant, 13% were evangelical Protestant and 8% identified with some other religion.
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed last week that Alito’s draft opinion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was genuine – although the draft dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the court.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this article.