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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Big win for Christians in US as right to abortion overturned

Abortion clinics across the US have begun to shut after US the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision which granted women constitutional right to abortion. In the wake of the 5-4 order on Friday, about half of states are expected to introduce new restrictions or bans, out of which 13 have outlawed abortion effective immediately, reports the BBC.

Trigger laws, which allow an instant ban, have already been applied in Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Alabama. Meanwhile, bans in Mississippi and North Dakota will come into effect after their Attorney Generals approve it. While Wyoming’s ban will take effect in five days, Utah’s ban must be certified by a legislative council. Bans in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas will be applied in 30 days.

At an abortion clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, the doors to the patient area shut as soon as the court’s opinion was posted online on Friday afternoon. Staff made calls to tell women that their appointments were cancelled. “No matter how hard we prepare for bad news, when it finally hits, it hits hard. Having to call these patients and tell them Roe v. Wade was overturned is heartbreaking,” a nurse at the clinic told the BBC.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, the Women’s Health Care Centre, one of only three abortion providers in the state, was also closed. Due to the Supreme Court ruling, about 36 million women of reproductive age will lose access to abortion, the BBC quoted research from Planned Parenthood, a healthcare organisation that provides abortions, as saying.

Meanwhile, the decision was met with elation by anti-abortion campaigners outside the court in Washington, but protests against the ruling were due to be held in more than 50 cities across the US. The ruling has led to widespread criticism. President Joe Biden said the Supreme Court’s move will put women’s health and lives at risk. “It’s a realisation of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Slamming the verdict, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said the “Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved the GOP’s dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions”.

“American women today have less freedom than their mothers… This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart-wrenching. But make no mistake: the rights of women and all Americans are on the ballot this November.”

The Governors of California, Washington and Oregon have vowed to protect patients travelling from other states for an abortion. The landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case saw the Supreme Court rule by a vote of seven to two that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution.

The ruling gave American women an absolute right to an abortion in the first three months (trimester) of pregnancy, but allowed for restrictions in the second trimester and for prohibitions in the third. However, this constitutional right to abortion was lost after the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.

Former Vice-President Mike Pence, a long-standing critic of Roe v Wade, urged supporters not to stop until “the sanctity of life” was protected by law in every state. Pence is a deeply Christian, conservative politician who attended events like  ‘World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians’ while in office.

Western MSM hiding the role of Christianity?

An interesting aspect is the way mainstream media like BBC are avoiding the mention of Christianity, the driving force behind this entire debate. They are instead using labels like conservatives or liberals to describe the anti and pro abortion camps, respectively. Even ultra left-liberal outlets like PBS are reporting the US Supreme Court’s decision in a balanced manner, covering all sides of the debate.

The fact is that the movement in US against abortion has been led by Christian religious bodies, mainly the evangelical protestant and Catholic groups, who have termed it the ‘pro-life’ campaign. When abortion was allowed in the USA in 1973 through the Roe v. Wade decision, Christian media outlets had written, “This decision runs counter not merely to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people.” 

The Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Presbyterian Church in America, and other denominations all passed ‘pro-life resolutions’ in the decade after Roe.

The Roman Catholic church teaches that abortion is ‘murder’ because life ‘begins at the moment of conception and ends with natural death’. Pope Francis, the head of the Vatican and religious leader of Catholic Christians, has termed abortion as ‘murder’, stating, “it’s homicide, whoever has an abortion, kills”. The Vatican has praised the US Supreme Court decision.

These Christians believe that the Church has been opposed to abortion from its earliest days, regarding it as ‘infanticide and homicide’. Even in the case of rape or incest, they believe it is a sin to ‘kill an innocent unborn baby’ for the crime of his father. To those who ask why the church is involving itself in a personal decision, they say that the Church, and the Church’s ministers, have God-given responsibilities to warn, exhort and rebuke Christians from making decisions that are contrary to the Word of God.

Contrast the mainstream media’s largely respectful coverage of the viewpoints of Christian institutions and fundamentalist Christians, to their disparaging coverage of any position held by practicing Hindus or Hindutvawadis. Even liberal Westerners, many of whom are atheist or irreligious, respect Christianity and believe that Christian mission work is a ‘force for good’, ignoring the supremacism and intolerance embedded in Christian proselytization and the cultural genocide it has unleashed all over the world.

Many of the anti-abortion or ‘pro-life’ campaigners also believe this US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade is the result of a trio of conservative justices appointed during Donald Trump’s presidency: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

This is another aspect that media, especially mainstream media and elite opinion makers in Bharat gloss over. In the US, as in all other democracies, the institution of judiciary is ultimately accountable to elected representatives who have power over their appointment. It is only in Bharat that the judiciary unconstitutionally usurped the power of judicial appointments to itself via the opaque clique-like Collegium system since 1993, using the unstable coalition era and Indira Gandhi’s excesses as an excuse.

(With IANS inputs)

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