After abortion decision, religious leaders vow to help women

For Southern Baptists across the country, Friday was a day of triumph, rejoicing, and the praise of God.

After 50 years of legal battles and prayers, Roe vs. Wade was overturned when the court declared that a woman’s right to an abortion was not protected by the Constitution.

But even as millions of Southern Baptists celebrated what they believe to be a historic victory, their President, Bart Barber, was already telling the denomination’s 47,000 member churches that it was time to roll up their sleeves and get to work, especially in States like Texas, where a trigger law made abortions illegal the moment the court decision was announced.

The world is watching, Barber suggested, and Evangelical and Catholic religious organizations that have been waging war on legal abortion must show that mothers and their unborn children would be supported and prosper in a post-Roe America.

“There are people across the country who are a bit scared today,” Barber said in a live video streamed by Baptist Press. “But if our communities can help people achieve healthy outcomes that lead to healthy families…then we can show California and other states that the world doesn’t end in Texas.” Women are not deprived of opportunities to thrive in Texas. It’s not The Handmaid’s Tale in Texas.”

Catholic leaders have struck a similar chord in the days since the court ruling: The Roe vs. Wade overthrow did not spell the end of their work, they said. In a way, it was just the beginning.

Religious leaders in the anti-abortion group have insisted for decades that they care about the well-being of expectant mothers as much as that of their unborn children. Now they are being pressured by abortion rights organizations and their political allies, as well as by women who are being denied abortions and their families, to get involved to secure more funding and resources for expanded prenatal and child care, more paid family leave, and help smooth out the adoption bureaucracy and hold dead fathers and abusive partners accountable.

It is not yet certain whether they will.

Parishioners pray after receiving communion Sunday at St. Paul Catholic Cathedral in Pittsburgh.

Parishioners pray after receiving communion Sunday at St. Paul Catholic Cathedral in Pittsburgh. During the service, the Rev. Kris Stubna delivered a sermon that focused on the Supreme Court’s decision that nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade’s ruling, which he said was the result of the prayers and efforts of many Catholics and others.

(Jessie Wardarski/Associated Press)

Less than 24 hours after the court decision, the Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, the SBC’s public policy arm, is reconsidering its focus, said Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the ERLC. He said the group will move away from federal anti-abortion advocacy and toward supporting laws he believes will help women facing unexpected and unwanted pregnancies, such as

“This will go myriad ways and we strive to be a part of it,” he said. “Let’s make sure families move to a place where abortion isn’t even an option.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, released a statement declaring that now is the time to “build a society and economy that is supportive of marriages and families and in which every woman who has the support and resources that she has must give birth to her child with love.” Last year at the conference, President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other Catholic leaders considered abortion rights support refusing communion.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of San Jose issued a statement calling on state lawmakers to expand programs for housing assistance, antenatal and postnatal care, domestic violence protection, paid family leave and maternity shelters by employers to better support pregnant women .

Erika Bachiochi, a legal scholar and fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, wrote that genuine reproductive justice would not only protect and promote the health and well-being of unborn children and their mothers, but also “ensure that all women, especially those who are poor, have the financial resources, medical care and workplace accommodation they need to care for their children after birth.”

To some critics of the anti-abortion movement, passionate calls for a social safety net by the victors of a bitter war seem disingenuous and hypocritical. After all, they argue, shouldn’t people of faith push policies that would ease the logistical and financial burden of having children and raising them even before America has entered this new post-Roe reality? Many Republican and conservative supporters of abortion restrictions have repeatedly voted against programs that particularly help poor mothers and women and children of color, these critics claim.

“They’ve had decades to show support for women through social programs and the expansion of Medicaid, and that social support hasn’t happened,” said Emily Reimer-Barry, a Catholic feminist theologian at the University of San Diego. “I find it disheartening that pro-life people now feel obligated to do something.”

Reimer-Barry, who does not speak for her university, said she sees little interest in women’s issues in the Catholic world.

Anti-abortion activists react after Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade on Friday in Washington.

Anti-abortion activists react after Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade on Friday in Washington.

(Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

“I’m aware of a few initiatives here and there to mobilize support for women, but we don’t have a great family leave policy in Catholic institutions, we don’t have women’s representation at all levels of the church, and I can’t even get my own parish hall to do it.” to have a baby changing station in the women’s restroom,” she said. “We are talking about a fundamental inability to respond to the needs of women in parishes.”

John Gehring, Catholic program director for Faith in Public Life, a Washington-based advocacy group, said it’s difficult to generalize about Catholic institutions: Some are more supportive of women, and particularly pregnant women, than others. Still, he said, there is often a gap between the rhetoric and practice of anti-abortion advocates.

“It’s less important what church leaders say now than what they do,” he said. “There are many Catholic institutions that are leading the way, but there are many dioceses and Catholic schools that still fall short of our own teachings when it comes to providing robust, family-friendly policies to support women.”

Kathleen Domingo, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, which advocates for California’s 12 bishops at the state level, said it’s a myth that Catholics who support abortion restrictions care more about babies before they’re born than after.

“The Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services in the world,” she said. “We help empower youth, pregnant youth, the homeless, and victims of cyber and intimate partner violence.”

Domingo said the bishops have tasked them with lobbying for legislation that supports what is sometimes referred to as “the seamless garment” or “a consistent life ethic,” the idea that all human lives are sacred and that Catholics have a personal and have social responsibility protect and preserve the sanctity of life from “womb to grave”.

This perspective has led her to campaign not only for stricter abortion restrictions in California, but also for immigration reform, better access to affordable housing, sound gun laws, environmental protection, and paid family vacations.

“We’re not just against abortion laws,” she said. “It’s equally important to champion the social safety net.”

Rev. Sam Sawyer SJ, a Jesuit priest in New York City and senior editor of the Catholic magazine America, understands why critics are angered when bishops and other Catholic leaders make statements like “Now it’s time to get to work.”

“The longstanding position of the church, which bishops have long articulated, supports a much more robust safety net than we have in the United States,” he said. “But when push comes to shove, will you vote for someone with safety net guidelines or someone to help you bring down Roe?”

Now that the battle for abortion rights has shifted from the Supreme Court back to legislatures and lower courts, church leadership may choose to mobilize politically behind a more robust social welfare and social safety net, including economic support for women and families – Values ​​he cherishes says the church has forever supported.

“Now there are more ways to put that support into practice at the political level,” he said.

for dr Joy Qualls, associate dean at Biola University, a private evangelical university in La Mirada, says the end of Roe doesn’t mean the beginning of work to support families; it means that the work is ongoing and needs to be expanded.

“Churches and religious nonprofits have long served women and families, and that needs to be expanded now,” she said. “Time, energy, emotions and money have to be shifted in ways that don’t exactly fit our political pigeonholes.”

Qualls said she believes social policy has an impact on whether women seek abortions, rather than laws.

“We know what affects abortion — access to education, good-paying jobs, contraception, access to economic security,” she said. “That’s where we need to focus our attention and our resources. We have to face the complexity of this issue.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-27/roe-vs-wade-abortion-decision-religious-leaders After abortion decision, religious leaders vow to help women

Alley Einstein

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