Message on Supreme Court Ruling

June 25, 2022

Dear Seattle University Community,

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization , in which the Court overruled decades of precedent affirming a woman’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. As a result of the Court’s decision, the power to regulate abortion now rests with the states. As Governor Inslee made clear in his statement following the decision, however, Washington State’s laws regarding access to abortion remain unchanged.

It will take time to understand and process the full impact of this case. But it is clear that the decision and its reasoning will have far-reaching consequences for many, particularly low-income women and women of color, LGBTQ people, and for society at large.

In our current climate, thoughtful conversation about complex political issues is all too rare. This is especially true for abortion. As a university that is Jesuit and Catholic and innovative and progressive, Seattle University is in a unique position to foster thoughtful and respectful discussion about these questions among people with a diversity of perspectives. Next week, for example, our law school will host a discussion of the Dobbs case on Tuesday, June 28th, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in Room C-5 of Sullivan Hall, with a Zoom link to be provided for those who wish to join virtually. Other events and conversations will follow. My hope is that these discussions can serve as a basis for greater mutual respect and understanding across our disagreements.

Our community, like the American polity as a whole (including the American Catholic community), is made up of people with a wide range of perspectives on yesterday’s decision. Some are celebrating Dobbs as a long overdue victory for the protection of vulnerable human beings. Others are mourning an erosion of the autonomy of those experiencing unwanted or unsafe pregnancies or those whose rights may be undermined in the coming years by the sweeping scope of the Court’s reasoning. We recognize this diversity of perspectives in the belief that reasoned and respectful deliberation can bring us closer to a truth that honors the dignity of every person.


Eduardo M. Peñalver