We therefore condemn the new Texas law allowed into operation by a cowardly action of the Supreme Court. The latter did not even hold a hearing. It denied standing to women, certainly the people most impacted. It made this decision by indecision – in the dark of night without a single voice raised about differences of morality, law, and faith being raised. This is too large a decision for such a small act from the highest court of the land.
The Texas law now limits a woman’s access to abortion to the 6th week of gestation, long before most women even know they are pregnant, and worse, allows snoops and snitches, even total strangers, to accuse women of having an abortion, to turn them in to a web site, and for anyone who aided her – physician, nurse, friend who drove her to the doctor – to be fined $10,000 with the money going to the snitch. Brave New World.
The Bible is entirely silent on abortion. We will find no laws or rules there. We can find clear evidence from the New Testament and Jesus’ inclusion of women among his followers that he did not perceive them as second-class people, as objects of disregard or control. Women were prominent in his ministry, the ones who kept the faith with him through the crucifixion, to whom he appeared in resurrection. Literal or mythical, the story is important in our regard for women and their moral capacities. Jesus honored that. So should we.
We can also be clear about how we may judge when life begins. One may recall that in some versions of scripture, Mary is described as “quick with child” just prior to Jesus’ birth. The Texas law decided that life begins with heartbeat. That’s their rationalization for the 6-week limitation. Common Law and much of Protestant assessment of conception, maintains it begins much later at viability, the point at which a fetus can live outside the womb. Common Law determined that before viability, a woman was “merely pregnant” but not “quick with child”.
This law also violates the religious freedom of those, such as many in the Jewish faith, whose teachings are clear that life does not begin until the ruach (breath/spirit) enters the body with the first breath.
That distinction is upheld in Roe with no limits on abortion until viability or when the fetus is “quick”. After viability only compelling needs for the mother, her health and life, can justify an abortion.
Roe v Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973 based on these long-standing Common Law assessments regarding conception and pregnancy. The decision built on fundamental principles about human reproduction that had operated in England and its colonies then in the United States for centuries.
Texas law and Supreme Court ruling has thus radically deviated from our own nation’s laws.
(from The Rev. Susan Russell (@revsusanrussell), All Saints, Pasadena)
The whole point of the 1973 Supreme Court decision is to give women agency over these matters. For some, personal belief makes abortion unacceptable. For others, these principles of faith and Common Law are moral precepts that offer her abortion as an option in her life. In other words, Roe compels no one to act against her conscience. She is the only person, in consultation with those of her choosing, to decide what is morally essential in her life.
Texas, with the aid of an indifferent and irresponsible Supreme Court, has imposed a single religious view on every woman. That is heartily unacceptable. Those promulgating the Texas law have spoken of upholding “Christian values”. That’s not remotely accurate. Where Roe gives total freedom of choice to those not wishing to have an abortion as well as those who do, the Texas law has eradicated the open-hearted Protestant and many other religions’ views of life and value of women.
There is not one good thing to be said about either the Texas law or the craven way it was authorized to proceed. We as people of faith stand in opposition to this law and the Supreme Court decision. We encourage our members to raise their voices against both the denigration of women and the evisceration of our own right to faith principles.