Ethics Politics USA

What the Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade means for the West and the Church – CT

I thought I would look at some of the political, corporate and media reactions to the Supreme Court decision.  They demonstrate the godless moral confusion at the heart of our society.

 

Wikimedia Commons/James McNellis

 

In a momentous judgment, the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned its 1973 Roe v Wade decision that abortion was a constitutional right in the US.

The reaction, as expected, has been fierce and indeed even violent – including attacks on centres seeking to provide support to pregnant women.There are those who genuinely believe that we are headed back to the Dark Ages (although they would struggle to tell us what those ages were and why they were dark!). Others think that The Handmaid’s Tale has now come true.

Some politicians from both inside and outside the US have been quick to express their horror. But their comments reveal the inconsistency, illogicality and inhumanity of their confused views.

Boris Johnson, for example, told a conference in Kigali, “I think it’s a big step backwards. I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose, and I stick to that view and that is why the UK has the laws that it does.”

Apart from implying that his hosts are backwards (Rwanda has far stricter policies than the US), the Prime Minister seems to be unaware of the law in his own country. Abortion is technically illegal in the UK apart for the exceptions provided in the 1967 Abortion Act which state that there must be the danger of grave permanent injury, risk to life, or serious handicap.Legally a woman cannot just choose to get rid of her child without two doctors agreeing that at least one of these grounds has been met. If the UK law was honestly carried out, there would be far fewer abortions in the UK.

Kamala Harris said, “Let me be clear: each person has the right to make decisions about their own life—decisions such as the right to start a family, use contraception, and marry the person you love.”

The Vice President seems unaware that you cannot just marry the person you love in the US – there are still limitations. And no one is preventing someone from starting a family or using contraception – unless she thinks that abortion is a form of contraception.

Michelle Obama said, “I am heartbroken for people around this country who just lost the fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies.”

This is a quote which illustrates the confusion and the unscientific illogicality of the abortion case. If only one body was involved, then there might be a case. But there are at least two others – the body of the father (who we would expect to support, provide and care for his own offspring), and most importantly the body of the baby – which she thinks can be dismembered and killed as a human right!

Joe Biden said, “This landmark case protected a woman’s right to choose, her right to make intensely personal decisions with her doctor, free from the interference of politics. It reaffirmed basic principles of equality — that women have the power to control their own destiny. And it reinforced the fundamental right of privacy — the right of each of us to choose how to live our lives.”

President Biden hits on the heart of the Supreme Court decision. Abortion is not in the US Constitution so on what basis did the 1973 Supreme Court rule it was a constitutional right? On the basis of the right to privacy. To say the least, that was a somewhat bizarre ruling. If someone wishes to abuse their child in private or have a slave, does the right to privacy mean that they have the right to do so?! Most constitutional lawyers recognise that Roe v Wade was bad constitutional law even if they supported abortion.Justice Samuel Alito, who penned this Supreme Court’s majority ruling, said that the 1973 decision was “egregiously wrong,” that the arguments were “exceptionally weak”, and that it amounted to “an abuse of judicial authority.”

Julia Hartley-Brewer (UK commentator) said, “America has just turned the clock back by decades for women’s rights. Terrifying.”

What turned the clock back centuries was the so called ‘right’ to kill your own baby – a practice common in the Greco/Roman/Pagan world. It is sad to see intelligent commentators so blinded by ideology and the zeitgeist of the times that they cannot see what they are proposing. They are not advocating for progression but rather regression.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, said, “One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime. Obviously, the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US – but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too. Solidarity doesn’t feel enough right now – but it is necessary.”

Nicola Sturgeon recently refused to answer the question ‘what is a woman?’ so it seems somewhat difficult for her to defend the rights of what she does not know! She also believes that men can get pregnant (the Scottish government has in some instances removed references to mothers and speaks of pregnant people, rather than women), and presumably have abortions too – so why is this about women’s rights? Keir Starmer, another politician who cannot tell us what a woman is, tweeted in a similar vein.

Interestingly the SNP, who oppose the UK government making laws in the devolved government’s areas, have largely supported the UK government imposing abortion on Northern Ireland. Last week, MPs formally approved moves to allow the UK government to directly commission abortion services in Northern Ireland.

Emmanuel Macron said, “Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

President Macron is complaining about an abortion law which is less strict than France’s. The Supreme Court voted by a majority of 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. France has just voted to increase the abortion limit from 12 to 14 weeks – with Macron expressing his doubts about doing so!

Of course, it is not just politicians but also celebrities like Taylor Swift and journalists – some of whom seem to have lost all sense of being journalists rather that purveyors of political propaganda. The issue is much more complex than the somewhat simplistic take you will hear on the BBC, ABC or CNN.

The big corporations are also weighing in. Mastercard, Disney, Netflix, JP Morgan, Amazon, Citi, PayPal, Bank of America, Meta, Tesla and Microsoft have all said that they will pay for their employees to travel to get abortions elsewhere if they live in states where abortion is banned.They may be for ‘choice’ but it is also financially advantageous for them that they don’t have to pay maternity pay and lose their female employees for several months.

What should also be noted, amidst all the hysteria, is that the US Supreme Court has not banned abortion – it has just ruled that it is not a constitutional right, and that it is up to individual states to determine their own abortion policy. I find it somewhat ironic that there are those in Australia – my current base – who are condemning this ‘backward’ American policy when it is precisely the policy that exists in Australia, a country where each of the states determines their own abortion policy.

But what about the Church?

In the US the Episcopal Public Policy Network immediately sent an e-mail action alert urging Episcopalians to advocate for Congressional action “to provide a right to abortion care in federal statute”. Unbelievably, a number of their clergy offered a liturgical Service of Healing and Lament to mourn the overturning of Roe v Wade.

In the UK, the Establishment Churches such as the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, who are not usually slow to comment on political/moral issues such as Brexit, climate change, refugees and Ukraine, have been remarkably silent on this vital moral issue. Why?

While that are faithful Christians in these denominations, and others, seeking to work for the protection of the most vulnerable in society, it is the Catholic Church, working together with evangelicals in the US, who are largely responsible for bringing about this change. Catholic social philosophy and theology of life has been incredibly influential. There are six Catholics on the Supreme Court (together with two Protestants and one Jew).

Of course, in this confused world, that is enough to unleash a tidal wave of anti-Christian hatred and prejudice. But the fact remains that it is not the progressive position but rather the Christian position which is coherent, rational, scientific, moral and humane – seeking to balance the rights of the woman and the child.

Those of us who rejoice at this amazing decision know that this is only the beginning. We have to provide support, help and care for those who find themselves in the desperate situation of wanting abortions.

We have to provide support and the Gospel of forgiveness for those who have had abortions. And we must seek to care for children born in difficult circumstances.

The early Church did not just reject the prevailing abortion and infanticide – they also provided and cared for the unwanted children. If we are serious about being pro-life, we must do likewise.

Uplift – The need for Pastors to speak about Abortion – with Catherine Mockler of SPUC

Abortion Myths and Realities – a Case Study from Africa

 

28 comments

  1. Great article David. As far as the pro-abortionists believe – it’s only the woman who has rights. No one seems to think that the unborn baby has any rights.

  2. I largely agree with you for a change but can you expand on ‘The early Church did not just reject the prevailing abortion and infanticide ‘ – how early and evidenced by what? S.

    1. From the beginning – most of the early church fathers have extant writings opposing abortion and infanticide. There are none supporting it. Here for example from AD 70 the Didache ““The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).”

  3. “Nicola Sturgeon recently refused to answer the question ‘what is a woman?’”
    Not only Mrs Murrell! It is interesting, is it not, that suddenly, after so much difficulty in defining a “woman”, people like Pelosi are complaining that it is a “woman’s” rights that have been destroyed by this SCOTUS pronouncement!
    “Irony, thy name is Democrat!”

  4. Note that NSW has recently passed new laws offering greater support to expectant parents who lose an unborn child due to another person’s criminal act, recognising (correctly) that losing a baby as a result of a car crash is not the same as a broken arm – it’s a life that has been lost: https://dcj.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/media-releases/2022/new-laws-commence-to-better-recgonise-loss-of-an-unborn-child-du.html . Note that there’s some fancy footwork to reconcile this with abortion law.

  5. Good article that shows how important “choice” is to the progressives but there is no thought to the consequences for the unborn child.

  6. You call your ideology “rational” when you confer rights to a single cell which is not even sentient let alone conscious or self-aware, and use that to trump the freedoms of the real object of your hatred – women who don’t submit to the sexist role you deem appropriate for them.

    You call your ideology “moral” when it sides with the victim of rape and force her to abandon her life plans and the chance of a stable family (indeed “kill” them by your definition) in order to raise the child of her rapist. I bet you would have a different outlook if that could have happened to you.

    You call your ideology “coherent” when a rapist could use exactly your reasoning to justify conceiving a child against the will of the victim. After all her choice can be overruled according to you.

    You call your position “Christian” when it has already been pointed out that it is actually unbiblical, and all you could do was throw a hissy-fit. Most Christians understand the wider picture.

    A callous law which serves only to heap control over the poorest in society in order to impose the faith of the most powerful can only be described as evil. No wonder you are cheering.

    1. What an irrational comment.

      1.
      //You confer rights to a single cell//
      a) Unborn babies are human beings.

      //2,899 American adults were surveyed and asked to select the group most qualified to answer the question of when a human’s life begins. The majority selected biologists (81%)…

      A sample of 5,502 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions assessed statements representing the biological view ‘a human’s life begins at fertilization’… Overall, 95% of all biologists affirmed the biological view that a human’s life begins at fertilization (5212 out of 5502).//
      https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3211703

      b) Human rights belong to any individual by virtue of being a human being. An unborn baby, whether zygote, embryo or fetus, is a living, unique individual with unique human DNA.

      Classifying any group of human beings as ‘not really human’ is a very dangerous way to go. Look at the Nazis with the Jews, or with disabled children, the Japanese with their prisoners of war, slave-owners with slaves. It’s an excuse for the group with more power to mistreat the group with less power.

      Why should not a human being have human rights, including the right to life?

      2.
      Forcing a victim of rape to abandon her life plans in order to raise the child of her rapist:
      If abortion was allowed in cases of rape and incest, 98.5% of abortions would be illegal. Most abortions are carried out for reasons of selfish convenience.

      However, no one would force a victim of rape to keep the child rather than having it adopted.

      3.
      //A rapist could use exactly your reasoning to justify conceiving a child against the will of the victim//
      – It is wrong to take an innocent human life
      – Abortion takes an innocent human life
      – Therefore abortion is wrong

      I presume you don’t think that women should have the choice under the law to kill newborn babies, or to commit other acts you consider wrong. This is in the same category.

      Saying that there should not be a legal choice to commit one wrong act (kill unborn babies) is hardly the same as saying that there should be a legal choice to commit another wrong act (rape women).

      4.
      Opposing abortion is unbiblical:
      How??

      5.
      //Most Christians understand the wider picture.//
      Most Christians who take the Bible seriously oppose abortion. Maybe you only know progressive Christians.

      6.
      //A callous law which serves only to heap control over the poorest in society in order to oppose the faith of the most powerful//
      – It’s callous to kill unborn babies for selfish convenience.
      – Laws forbidding abortion apply to everyone in society.
      – You don’t even need faith to make a good case for not allowing abortion, given that life begins at conception (see above) and human rights are considered to belong to all human beings regardless of other considerations (such as race).
      – If you think the most powerful people in society are Christians you must not live in the UK.

      1. Great reply but a few brief thoughts as I am supposed to be working.

        *It’s an excuse for the group with more power to mistreat the group with less power.

        Exactly the same argument used against the ban on abortions, the less powerful being the women carrying the pregnancy for 9months. As the Jews themselves allow abortion I am not sure the wider argument about Hitler and all really works. Republicans aren’t keen on abortion, but look how they treat the poor and the immigrants.

        “Opposing abortion is unbiblical:
        How??”

        There is not a great deal either way, unless I’ve missed some verses?

        “Maybe you only know progressive Christians.”
        That is, I’m afraid, predjudice. Some progressive Christians (whatvere thatt means) may well take the bible seriously, some un-progressives may not. You are simply speculating.

        “You don’t even need faith to make a good case for not allowing abortion, given that life begins at conception (see above) and human rights are considered to belong to all human beings regardless of other considerations (such as race).”
        Mosty people without faith don’t make that case and neither have you made the case that full human rights can be applied to a handful of cels withiut nerves, heartbeat or breath.

        “If you think the most powerful people in society are Christians you must not live in the UK.”
        We are talking about the USA?

        I’d like to be convinced that a blanket ban is the way to go but I’m not seeing it. Life and faith simply is not black and white, there are questions and arguments and honest wrestling on all sides. Forcing a faith based ‘one size fits all’ rule is, I fear, uncompassionate and a great way to innoculate people against the gospel. We have been here before with other issues which have ot ended well.

      2. Hi Stuart. Here are my thoughts on your reply.

        //Exactly the same argument used against the ban on abortions, the less powerful being the women carrying the pregnancy for 9 months.//
        Pro-lifers are not defining pregnant women as less than human. So it can’t be the same argument.

        Who is more vulnerable and less powerful, pregnant women or unborn babies?

        //As the Jews themselves allow abortion I am not sure the wider argument about Hitler and all really works.//
        What the Jews allow is not relevant to whether the Nazis defined some groups of human beings (not just the Jews) as less than human.

        //There is not a great deal either way//
        There are certainly some passages that support opposing abortion. What passages do you think support abortion?//

        //Some progressive Christians (whatever that means) may well take the bible seriously, some un-progressives may not.//
        As most progressive Christians do support abortion, and I didn’t say ‘un-progressives’ but ‘Christians who take the Bible seriously’, it’s likely that this person doesn’t know any Christians who take the Bible seriously, but only knows progressive Christians who support abortion.

        60-second video on progressive Christianity:
        https://youtube.com/shorts/k2n1G6Ty-os?feature=share

        Longer video by Mike Winger:
        https://youtu.be/nYuWlxnqa4o

        //We are talking about the USA?//
        Yes. I can still make the comment?

        //a blanket ban//
        I didn’t say I wanted a blanket ban. Sometimes abortion might be the lesser of two evils. But 96-97% of abortions are done for selfish convenience.

        //Forcing a faith//
        Working to protect a vulnerable group of human beings is not the same as ‘forcing a faith’. It’s comparable to the fight against slavery.

        I don’t agree that it’s not possible to make a good case against abortion without bringing in Christianity. Before becoming a Christian, I switched from being a pro-choicer who went on pro-choice marches to opposing abortion, as a result of reading a book by a philosopher.

        //uncompassionate//
        There is nothing more uncompassionate than standing by while innocent human lives are taken (63 million in the USA since 1973, 9 million in the UK since 1967), and unborn babies past the age of 16 weeks who are able to feel pain are dismembered without anaesthetic.

        In a hundred years people will wonder why this was ever allowed.

    2. Did you see the tweet by Calum Miller shown on this page?

      //The people most likely to support abortion are rich white men. The people least likely to support abortion are poor women of colour.//

    3. You call your ideology “rational” when you confer rights to a single cell…

      David didn’t offer an argument on personhood, viability, ensoulment, and so forth.

      You call your ideology “moral” when it sides with the victim of rape and force her to abandon her life plans…

      David didn’t comment on what in his view would be something of a moral dilemma, although he did say “The early Church did not just reject the prevailing abortion and infanticide – they also provided and cared for the unwanted children. If we are serious about being pro-life, we must do likewise.”

      Also, I think you meant “perpetrator” of rape. Are you doing alright?

      You call your ideology “coherent” when a rapist could use exactly your reasoning to justify conceiving a child against the will of the victim…

      Were you reading the wrong tab when you wrote this? It’s not possible to move from what David wrote to this atrocity of ‘reason’.

      You call your position “Christian” when it has already been pointed out that it is actually unbiblical…

      That’s confusing. Are you a secret Thomist with strong feelings on ensoulment?

      A callous law which serves only to heap control over the poorest in society in order to impose the faith of the most powerful can only be described as evil. No wonder you are cheering.

      Why not petition the various state legislatures to decriminalise abortion following those various states’ trigger laws? Oh wait, you’ve meant to imply that the Roe v Wade ruling made abortion illegal. Well, there’s always the vote.

      ‘HateWontWin’? The sniff of ideology. What was it Winston said to Julia? “I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.” At least my ‘Name’ is self-aware. Also, it’s a shame that Iceland didn’t win that year.

      1. Excellent response – but I suspect you won’t get a rational reply. RIghts are not being conferred to a ‘single cell’.

  7. I hope the British church leaders start standing true to God’s word in these times. We have seen too few pronouncements by the Arch Bishops on the abortion slaughter industry. Come on Justin Welby take a stand man!

  8. Why not picture and discuss the NHS website’s ‘dating scan’ [The black and white truth about abortion]?

  9. I often think that people would be horrified if seeds that they had carefully planted in the ground were ridden roughshod over and destroyed. No one would consider doing that because they know that within that seed is contained all that pertains to its future potential as a plant, tree etc. All it needs is sunlight and water to grow and all that it will be is already contained within its seed. So strange that people don’t realise this is also the case with the unborn child. We don’t destroy the seeds because we recognise that each one has its own intrinsic worth. It’s the same with the unborn child. I hope the tide is turning now.

    1. A unique human life begins at conception.
      Does that life have the exact same rights as any other human?
      Does any other human get to live at the expense of another human?
      After a child is born there is adoption, before a child is born there is…?

      Then let us assume that abortion is 100% immoral.
      What care exists after an unwanted pregnancy?
      Are the Christian groups and theocrats trying to ban abortion building robust support and child care programs?
      Are support networks being funded and widely advertised to help the unwanted unborn?
      Is the same level of effort put in to stop abortion being put in to support unprepared mothers and potentially unwanted children?

      I am obviously against the prohibition of abortion, but why does all the emphasis appear to be on the rights and well being of a child pre-birth rather than post?
      I do not think for one second that the pro-life advocates do not care, but why not put your morals and money where your mouth is? Please tell me how the children, mothers and fathers will be supported.

  10. Am I right in saying that your own Archbishop (Kanishka Raffel) has also been silent on the verdict of the Supreme Court?

  11. An excellent article showing a great deal of logic and reason (which are most missing from the other side).

    If I can make a further point:

    The pro-abortion position is mostly framed as a woman’s right to choose. However, unless she was raped, a pregnant women *did* choose, I would say.
    And I seem to remember reading that, statistically (unfortunately I can’t cite), most abortions are not the result of rape.

  12. Just some information. The reason Kamala Harris mentioned contraception is because Justice Thomas wrote in his concurrence that repealing rights to marriage, sex and contraception should be repealed next because they were decided in a similar way to Roe.

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