Supreme Court Abortion Case: How Christians, Jews, Others Responded?

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Faith groups from all political and theological backgrounds share their views on abortion as the Supreme Court considers a case that could change America’s approach to reproductive rights.

Here’s a quick look at the legal battle and a summary of the religious reactions to Wednesday’s pleadings before the Supreme Court:

What is the stake of the case?

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization focuses on a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion in almost all circumstances after the 15th week of pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates say the policy violates previous court rulings, including Roe v. Wade, since these decisions set the limit for legally obtaining an abortion at around 24 weeks.

Mississippi officials and their supporters, on the other hand, argue that past decisions were not rooted in the Constitution and, therefore, must be overturned. In argument on Wednesday, Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart called on the court to return power to state legislatures and let them develop an abortion policy without federal interference.

How will the court decide?

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case likely won’t be released for several months, but most legal insiders share similar predictions on how it will play out.

At least five of the court’s six Tory justices appear willing to vote in favor of Mississippi, while the court’s three Liberals are united against the state, according to Amy Howe, who analyzes Supreme Court cases for SCOTUSblog.

However, it’s still unclear if Mississippi officials will get exactly what they’re asking for. The court can decide to uphold the controversial law but not to overturn Roe v. Wade, Howe wrote on Wednesday.

There is a “potential for a decision that nominally holds Roe … in place but removes the (fetal) viability line – a decision that would allow Mississippi and other states to ban abortions at certain times before a fetus”. can live outside the womb, “she said.

How Faith Groups Responded

Such a result would likely disappoint a wide variety of faith groups, including some of those who side with the Mississippi in the matter. Numerous statements released Wednesday by more conservative religious leaders called on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“It should be quite clear that the (legal) precedent in the field of abortion is completely detached from the Constitution itself. In addition, it completely ignores the individual whose rights are most affected: the unborn child. It cannot continue. Denying the dignity of our most vulnerable neighbors should not be a feature of American jurisprudence, ”Brent Leatherwood, acting chair of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, said in a statement.

Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, who chairs the United States Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, did not directly refer to Roe in his remarks, but it’s still clear that he hopes the country’s current approach to abortion rights. to overcome it.

“In the United States, abortion kills more than 600,000 babies each year. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health could change that. We pray that the Court will do the right thing and allow states to limit or re-ban abortion, and in so doing protect millions of unborn children and their mothers from this painful act and destructive, ”he said.

Other religious leaders would be frustrated with a move in favor of Mississippi for very different reasons than Leatherwood or Archbishop Lori. Some – usually from more liberal religious traditions – have argued that people of faith should embrace the Roe v. Wade.

“In Judaism, abortion is not only permitted, but in some cases required when the life of the pregnant person is at stake. Restrictive abortion laws (…) limit our ability to fully practice our religious tradition. and to make safe health care decisions in accordance with our beliefs, ”said Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, in a statement.

Katy Joseph, director of policy and advocacy for the Interfaith Alliance, argued that protecting access to abortion is part of protecting religious freedom.

“Religious traditions approach health care issues differently, and people of all faiths and none seek comprehensive reproductive services, including abortion, every year. True religious freedom means that people seeking care should be able to make decisions based on their own beliefs and circumstances, not the religious opinions of their doctor or state legislators, ”she said.

Many faith groups that issued statements in Wednesday’s oral argument have been following the case for months. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Interfaith Alliance, for example, both filed briefs with the Supreme Court earlier this fall, setting out their take on the case.

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