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  • Reverend James Squire

Roe, Wade, and Fitch Part 2

Photo by Jimmy Woo

Please read Roe, Wade, and Fitch to fully understand Part 2. It should be called Access V. Excess! Bioethics starts regarding an approach to a problem with the nature of the origin of the problem. In the past post, I pointed out that the overturning of Roe V. Wade was based in the excess of Attorney General Fitz who saw the world through the rose-colored glasses of her elite life. She never allowed the fact about the full story of Mississippi to enter her vision. That state has the highest infant mortality rate and highest rate of child poverty. Her reason for her approach was to indicate that women could have a career and a family just like her which was covered with excess.

Roe V. Wade came into existence to provide all women, particularly the poor, the same level of access because too many women were dying as a result of backroom coat hanger abortions.

My central premise which ironically is that of Chief Justice Roberts is that what you do for one, should be helpful for all. That is the definition of social justice, one of the two pillars, along with love, of ethics. However, Roberts lost control of his court which has caused pain for many.

There is an overarching dilemma established by other court decisions last week such as open carry of weapons and the financial support of religious schools. You would think I would be happy about that last decision about religion and schools. Both the schools’ decision and the abortion decision smack of nationalizing Christianity. Having taught in a religiously pluralistic school based in a Christian tradition, it was my role to be clear about my Christian identity, but to be the servant leader to others who were not Christians giving them the same sort of support for their views as my own. In fact, it was my role to protect their freedom to believe what they believed. The way that I went about my life in this role was challenging as my school community contained a wide diversity of religions even within the various religious expressions. I learned first hand that my religious beliefs could be deepened by experiencing other views and vice versa.

I mention this because the overturning of Roe V. Wade essentially is against major parts of Christianity and certainly aspects of Judaism and Islam. The overturning of that ruling may have been good for some but it is punitive for many other religions and Christian perspectives. It tramples the freedom of every Jewish person and Muslim as well. Oh, they and you perhaps didn’t know that?

To say to Jewish people in our nation that abortion will not be tolerated is to be unaware that it is a REQUIREMENT in Judaism. The torah is very explicit that a fetus is not a human being. In the Talmud, the Jewish interpretation of the first five books of Moses, written 1400 years ago which is older than the Constitution, the fetus is regarded as part of “the woman’s body like her thigh.” In Jewish legal authority which I taught to my ethics students, there is a doctrine called “the law of the purser.” If anything is pursuing the killing of another, they must be stopped including a fetus that may be threatening the life of the mother. It is Jewish law.

Christianity interprets some of these verses differently from Judaism. That is fine, but from a Jewish perspective, they just don’t want you to impose your beliefs on them nor should they be. It is the exact point of the first amendment which protects religious free expression which if not done is a threat to human dignity and religious liberty for us all. There is that uncomfortable phrase again. What you do for one, you must do for all!

For Muslims the overturning of Roe V. Wade is seen as religious oppression of the Muslim community. There is a different level diversity among Muslims. Some indicate that life starts at 120 days and others at 40 days of pregnancy. People forget one aspect of Islam. Although it is subject to great negative interpretations today, historically it was the most tolerant of all religions accepting the validity of Christianity and Judaism. It is normal for some Muslims to be for abortion and others to be against it.

Asifa Qurashi-Landes in the June 23, 2022 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that: “Religious practice is refreshingly diverse in the U.S. with adherents of dozens of religions free to live and practice here with the diversity of views within and across religious traditions on the morality of terminating a pregnancy. Despite these warnings, a majority of justices appear to be unconcerned. The alignment of state law with particular Christian beliefs apparently does not offend the court’s understanding of the Constitution.”

Recall that the impetus to come to America was first and foremost to have religious freedom.

Thanks to the first amendment that is unambiguous in the Constitution. I also adhere to the words of Diana Eck, Director of the Harvard Pluralism Project. She said that the underlying axiom for promoting diversity was “to be sure where you stand, and you can embrace all the differences in the world.”

Clarity leads to all people in a community feeling safe and thriving in their religious beliefs.

Your faith can be, in some cases, hardened not deepened when you are surrounded by people who believe the same as you. That is something that the court never saw. They made a decision that was against the very reason that the first foot touched American soil, the ability to freely believe and worship what guided their hearts in the first place. What could be worse!

I was blessed to have been the spiritual leader of a large religiously diverse community that reflected the real world. My Christian faith was deepened by experiencing the richness of other religious traditions. I can only hope that was true for the other people whose faith may have been different from my own as well as others.

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