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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Religious crackdown on legal abortion on display after leak

By Deepa Bharat and Luis Andres Henao

Wade ruling for the Supreme Court to potentially reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and end the nationwide right to legal abortion is bracing — some with cautious delight and others with fear.

It has never seemed more possible to overturn a 49-year-old decision as judges were suggested to do in a draft opinion this week. While religious believers at the center of the decades-long fight over abortion are puzzled by the High Court’s breach of protocol, they are still as deeply divided and their beliefs as entrenched as ever on the controversial issue.

National surveys show that the majority of Americans support abortion. A Public Religion Research Institute poll from March found that most religious groups believe it should be legal in most cases – with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, of whom 69% said the process should be followed by most or be declared unlawful in all cases.

In conservative Christian corners, the draft opinion has raised hope. Faith groups that have historically taken a strong anti-abortion stance, including the American Conference of Catholic Bishops, have urged followers to pray for the cry to be reversed.

Rev. Manuel Rodriguez, pastor of the 17,000-strong Our Lady of Sorrow Catholic Church in the Queens borough of New York City, said that much of his Latino congregation is excited by the prospect of Roe’s death at a time when courts in some Latin American countries like abortion. Colombia and Argentina have gone to legalize it.

“You don’t fix another crime you’ve committed,” Rodriguez said.

Bishop Garland R. Hunt Sr., senior pastor of The Father’s House, a non-denominational, predominantly African American church in Peachtree Corner, Georgia, agreed.

“This is the result of an ongoing, urgent prayer since 1973,” Hunt said. “As a Christian, I believe that God is the one who gives life – not a politician or a judge. I definitely want to see more children safe in the womb.”

No faith is unbroken on the issue of abortion. Yet adherents of many religions that do not prohibit abortion agree that an idea held by minority Americans can affect their individual rights and religious beliefs.

In Judaism, for example, many authorities state that abortion is permitted or even required in cases where a woman’s life is in danger.

“This decision would outlaw abortion in cases when our religion would permit us,” said scholar Rabbi Danya Rutenberg in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, “and it will draw on someone else’s philosophy or theology when life begins.” based on its concepts. ,

Similarly, in Islam, there is room for “all aspects of reproductive choice, from family planning to abortion,” said Nadia Mohajir, co-founder of Heart Women & Girls, a Chicago-based nonprofit that focuses on reproductive rights and other gender issues. Works with Muslim communities on issues. ,

“A particular political agenda is infringing on my rights and my religious and personal freedoms,” she said.

According to new data released Wednesday by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 56% of American Muslims say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, a figure on par with the beliefs of American Catholics.

Donna Nicolino, a student at Fire Lotus Temple, a Zen Buddhist center in Brooklyn, said her faith calls on followers to show kindness to others. He said the ban or ban on abortion fails to consider why women have abortions and that the poor and marginalized will suffer the most.

“If we really value life as a culture, we will take measures like maternal health care, health care for children, guaranteeing good housing for pregnant women,” said Nicolino.

Sikhism prohibits gender-selective killings — female foeticide — but is more nuanced when it comes to abortion and favors compassion and personal choice, according to Research and Policy at Sikhari, a New Jersey-based nonprofit. Harinder Singh, senior partner of the said that prepares educational resources about it. Belief.

A 2019 survey co-led by research associate Jasleen Kaur found that 65% of Sikhs said abortion should be up to the woman rather than the government or leaders of the faith, while 77% said Sikh institutions support those who are considering abortion.

“The Sikh community surveyed is very clear that no religious or political authority is deciding on this issue,” Singh said.

Compassion is a virtue that has also been emphasized by some Christian leaders, who are calling on their ardent anti-abortion allies to lower the temperature while speaking out on the issue.

Kirk Winslow, pastor of Canvas Presbyterian Church in Irvine, Calif., said he views abortion through a human and spiritual lens rather than a political issue. Communities, he said, should turn to solutions such as counseling centers, parenting courses, health care and education, rather than “engaging in a culture war.”

She has counseled women struggling to have an abortion, and stressed the importance of empathy.

“Amidst the pain, fear, and confusion of an unexpected pregnancy, no one ever said, ‘I’m excited to have an abortion,'” Winslow said. “And there are times when getting an abortion may be the best opportunity we have to bring God’s peace to the situation. And I know a lot of people will disagree with that position. I’ll just answer that these very Most are not in my office for the same real and very difficult conversations.”

Similarly, Caitlin Stenerson, an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor and campus minister in the Twin Cities area of ​​Minnesota, called on faith leaders to “tread with caution,” noting that women in their pews may have abortions for a variety of reasons. And they can grieve and wrestle with the trauma.

“My job as a pastor is not to put too much shame on people, but to bring them to Jesus,” Stenson said. “We are called to speak the truth, but with love.”

Confidence leaders on both sides are preparing for the possibility of abortion being illegal in several states, ahead of a final court ruling expected to be handed down this summer.

Rev. Senior Pastor of Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, Calif. Sarah Halverson-Canoe said her congregation is looking at providing sanctuary and other support to women who may travel to the state to terminate their pregnancies. On Tuesday, a day after the draft opinion leaked, she led congregations and community members at a rally for abortion rights in nearby Santa Ana.

“Our faith tells us to be accountable to those in need,” Halverson-Cano said. “It’s time to stand with women and families and see how to respond to this terrible injustice.”

Niklas Köhler, president of the Students for Life group at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a private Catholic college in eastern Ohio, said he and others regularly attend a special Mass on Saturdays with prayers to end abortion. They then drive across the state line to nearby Pittsburgh to hold a prayer meeting and distribute leaflets outside the abortion clinic.

Kohler said that even if the draft opinion becomes the law of the land, such actions will continue to be necessary, as abortion will likely remain legal in states such as Pennsylvania.

“We’re still going to pray outside the clinic,” he said.


Bharat reported from Los Angeles and Henao from New York. Associated Press writers Giovanna Dell’Orto in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Peter Smith in Pittsburgh contributed.


The Associated Press religion coverage is supported by the Associated Press’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. Associated Press is solely responsible for this content.

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