Religious Americans are deeply divided in their views on abortion, and reactions from religious leaders ranged from delight to outrage after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
The ruling, released on Friday, was welcomed by leading Catholic bishops, despite the majority of U.S. Catholics supporting abortion rights.
“I recognize that there are people in the Catholic Church on both sides of this issue,” said Archbishop William Laurie of Baltimore, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Conference Committee on Action for Life. “However, we are finding that as people learn more about what the church is doing to help women with difficult pregnancies… hearts and minds begin to change.”
The ruling was also welcomed by many evangelical Christian leaders, including Bart Barber, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country. Southern Baptists “rejoice at the decision,” he said.
However, the decision, which is expected to lead to a widespread ban on abortion in more than 20 states, has been condemned by some mainstream Protestant leaders, including Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop. “I am deeply saddened,” he said.
READ MORE: After defeating Roe, you will not be able to have an abortion in these states.
Several Jewish organizations said the decision violated Jewish traditions that recognize the need for abortion.
Nadia Mohajir, co-founder of Heart Women and Girls, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works with Muslim communities on reproductive rights, expressed concern: “More than half of American Muslims support safe access to abortion. What we see here is a very small minority of privileged people who are trying to impose a narrow Christian understanding of when life begins.”
Here are some more testimonials from religious leaders:
“The announcement of the Dobbs decision marks a real turning point in the pro-abortion movement, a moment that Christians, human rights activists and many others have worked tirelessly for 50 years to achieve. … As this chapter comes to an end, we must understand that this is not the end of our important work. The issue of abortion has now been turned over to the states, many of which have either implemented or are considering some of the most disgusting permissive pro-abortion proposals in history.” — Brent Leatherwood, Acting President of the SBC Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, in a statement.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court … setting aside almost 50 years of precedent, will endanger the lives and well-being of women in labor who do not want to continue their pregnancy. God loves and cares for people who have abortions, and so does the United Church of Christ.” — General Ministers of the United Church of Christ in a joint statement.
“Abortion bans place more value on the life of the fetus than on the life of the pregnant woman, which is a violation of both Jewish law and tradition and American religious freedom. Now it seems that only certain people are entitled to religious freedom, which makes the whole concept meaningless.” — Statement by Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.
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“This is a historic day in the life of our country, which stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers. For nearly fifty years, America has enforced an unjust law that allows some to decide whether others can live or die; this policy has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of premature babies. … We mourn their loss and commit their souls to God.” — Statement by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop William Laurie of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Action for Life.
“The Catholic right for decades reduced church teaching to one issue and allied with a conservative movement hostile to church teaching about a consistent ethics of life and the common good. This decision is the culmination of this misguided campaign.” — John Gering, director of Faith in Public Life Catholic Clergy Network, Washington DC, via Twitter.
“This Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion in a ruling that is a direct attack on the separation of church and state. Religious freedom requires the right to have an abortion so that people can make their own reproductive decisions according to their own principles. … Americans United is preparing a religious freedom litigation that will take this argument to our courts.” — Rachel Lazer, President and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, representing secular Americans, in a statement.
“This historic Supreme Court decision would not have been made without fifty years of patient, loving, and hard work by people of all faiths and none in various fields, including social services, religion, law, medicine, culture, education, politics, and politics. But our work has only just begun.” — Salvatore Cordileone, Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, in a statement.
“Today’s decision is further evidence that the far right’s regressive political agenda has reached the highest authority in the country. Bodily autonomy and self-determination are deeply rooted humanistic values that are critical to building an inclusive, pluralistic and prosperous society. The right to access abortion has long been a culture war issue used by radical evangelical and white Christian nationalist movements to control women and undermine the welfare of our society.” — Nadia Dutchin, executive director of the American Humanist Association, in a statement.
READ MORE: If Rowe falls, some progressive prosecutors say they won’t enforce anti-abortion laws.
“Half the states will now become abortion free and millions of innocent lives will be saved from the barbaric practice of abortion. This is a human rights victory that surpasses all others and justifies decades of tireless work by dedicated individuals and organizations for life.” — Troy Newman, president of anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, in a statement.
“I am deeply saddened. … I have been ordained for over 40 years and have served as a pastor in poor congregations; I personally witnessed the negative consequences of this decision. … Today’s decision institutionalizes inequality because women with access to resources will be able to exercise their moral judgments in ways that women without the same resources will not be able to.” — Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, in a statement.
“More than ever, those who value all human life must demonstrate their commitment not only by their words, but by their deeds. We must call on legislators to protect the unborn, and we must give compassionate support to women who will help them choose life.” — Adam Greenaway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a statement.
“This court has no legitimacy. We will not live by this decision.” — Rev. Jackie Lewis, Senior Minister, New York Collegiate Middle Church, via Twitter.
Associated Press religion journalists Holly Meyer, Luis Andres Henao, Peter Smith and Deepa Bharat contributed to this report.