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Presiding Bishop ‘deeply grieved’ as Roe v. Wade is overturned

24 June 2022


Anti-abortion campaigners celebrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Friday on hearing that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, thus allowing states to restrict access to abortion

Anti-abortion campaigners celebrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Friday on hearing that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. W...

ABORTION is to be outlawed across swaths of the United States after a decision by the Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade.

President Biden called it “a sad day for the court and for the country”. The 1973 Roe v. Wade judgment, recognising access to abortion as a constitutional right, had been a good compromise between a woman’s right to choose and the state’s ability to regulate abortions, he said.

“Make no mistake, this decision is a combination of a deliberate effort over decades,” he said, calling it the realisation of “an extreme ideology. . . The court has done what it has never done before: it has expressly taken away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans. . . This is an extreme and dangerous path that the court is taking us on.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, described himself as “deeply grieved” by the court’s decision.

In a statement issued shortly after the decision was announced, Bishop Curry wrote: “This is a pivotal day for our nation, and I acknowledge the pain, fear, and hurt that so many feel right now. As a Church, we stand with those who will feel the effects of this decision — and in the weeks, months, and years to come.”

The ruling had been expected since early May when a draft judgment written on behalf of the majority of the judges was leaked to the press (News, 4 May 2022).

At the time, the US Episcopal Church reaffirmed its longstanding position that the Church was in “unequivocal opposition” to legislation that prevented women from choosing whether to have an abortion.

On Friday, Bishop Curry said that the Church has “tried carefully to be responsive both to the moral value of women having the right to determine their healthcare choices as well as the moral value of all life”.

The delivery of the Supreme Court’s final judgment prompted states in which there is a large “pro-life” majority in the legislature to move to ban abortion.

Thirteen states, mainly in the south and the mid-west, have “trigger laws” that were created to come into force almost immediately after the 1973 Roe v. Wade judgment was overturned.

Moments after the decision was announced, the Attorney General of Missouri, Eric Schmitt, posted on Twitter that abortion was now illegal in the state.

According to BBC News, an abortion clinic in Arkansas closed its doors as soon as the judgment was announced. Anti-abortion protesters outside were reported to be taking photos of the licence plates of those still arriving at the clinic, threatening to report them to the police.

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Mississippi’s decision to ban abortion after 15 weeks, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, by a six-to-three majority. The effect of the vote was to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In addition to the majority ruling by Justice Samuel Alito, which had been leaked in May, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a supporting opinion in which he suggested that past rulings on same-sex marriage, access to contraception, and sodomy should also be re-evaluated.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has described the ruling as “a big step backwards”. Speaking in Rwanda, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose, and I stick to that view, and that is why the UK has the laws that it does.”

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