Home Us church Speaker of the House of Representatives and church reaffirm commitment to reproductive rights as Supreme Court appears set to overturn Roe v. Wade – Episcopal News Service

Speaker of the House of Representatives and church reaffirm commitment to reproductive rights as Supreme Court appears set to overturn Roe v. Wade – Episcopal News Service


Pro-abortion and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court after a leaked majority draft opinion drafted by Justice Samuel Alito groomed a court majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on 3 may. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal leaders affirmed the church’s commitment to equal access to reproductive health care on May 3, the day after a leaked draft of a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling reported that the court was set to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade which guaranteed the country’s women the right to obtain an abortion.

Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, Speaker of the House of Representatives, responded with a written statement which cited decades of General Convention resolutions in support of women’s access to birth control and abortion. In particular, Jennings said, the governing body of the Episcopal Church passed a 1976 resolution that expressed “unequivocal opposition to any legislation by national or state governments that would restrict or deny the right of individuals to make informed decisions about them and act on them.

“And yet, for half a century, the promise of equal access to reproductive health care has never been fully realized,” said Jennings, who is 71. “For most of my adult life, Christian extremists have fought to restrict access to abortion with invasive laws, degrading demands on patients, and clinical regulations that go far beyond what is required for patient safety….Now these extremists are about to carry out a half-century of threats.

Jennings’ statement was in response to Politico’s May 2 report on a leaked document he obtained showing at least five Supreme Court justices willing to enforce a Mississippi law which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The draft decision, authored by Judge Samuel Alito, would go further and overturn the court’s previous rulings in Roe v. Wade and in Planned Parenthood v. Casey of 1992. “It is time to uphold the Constitution and refer the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” Alito says in the draft decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed on May 3 that leaked draft was real but not finaland the court would investigate it as an unprecedented breach of protocol and a “betrayal of court confidences.”

The United States Constitution supersedes state law, however, “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people, respectively.” In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits states to deny women access to abortion. Overthrow Roe c. Wade would effectively refer the question of the legality of abortion to the states.

The procedure is now legal in all 50 states, but abortion rights groups predict that about half of all states will severely limit or outright ban abortion if allowed to do so. By another estimate, the resulting abortion clinic closures reduce the number of legal abortions in the United States by 14%while abortion rights advocates warn that further restrictions will have the effect of increase the number of life-threatening illegal abortions through dangerous alternatives to professional care.

“As Episcopalians, we have a special obligation to oppose Christians who seek to destroy our multicultural democracy and turn the United States into an idol of the cruel and distorted Christianity they advocate,” Jennings said in his statement. . “In 2018, our General Convention declared that “equitable access to health care for women, including reproductive health care for women, is an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and her value as a human being”.

“Now – before this outrageous opinion becomes law – we must bear our Christian witness to the dignity of every human being by insisting that we support the right to safe and legal reproductive health care because our faith in one Compassionate God compels us to do so.”

The church’s Washington-based Office of Government Relations also issued a brief statement on May 3 in response to the pending decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. “The Episcopal Church reaffirms its commitment to ‘equitable access to health care for women, including reproductive health care for women.’ … The Office of Government Relations will continue to advocate at the federal level to protect reproductive rights.

The office also shared its previously assembled overview of church positions on abortion and women’s reproductive health.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].