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Southern Baptists join Catholic bishops in affirming “no constitutional basis” for abortion – Baptist News Global

There is no constitutional basis for abortion in America, and states should be able to regulate it without interference from the federal government, court says brief filed July 28 with the United States Supreme Court by the Southern Baptist Convention and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Friend of the Court’s memoir, written by Catholic bishops, is joined by the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission, as well as the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod and the National Association of Evangelicals .

It comes in response to a Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear during his next term. This case is expected to give the High Court an opportunity to overturn or limit two previous court rulings that the US Constitution protected the right to have an abortion before a fetus becomes “viable.”

“The Constitution does not create a right to abort an unborn child before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy.”

Mississippi passed a law that bans almost all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy – a more limited standard than what federal law currently allows. Previous attempts by state lawmakers to impose stricter limits on abortion have generally been rejected by the Supreme Court, which upheld the standards set in the two previous landmark cases, Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

However, in the final months of Donald Trump’s tenure as president, the composition of the High Court has tilted towards the more conservative majority in decades when Amy Coney Barrett was placed on the pitch to succeed the late Ruth. Bader Ginsburg. Religious and political conservatives who have sought for decades to overthrow Roe vs. Wade believe it is the right time to achieve their goal.

Although anti-abortion groups wanted the court to look at the Mississippi case more broadly, the court – after months of procrastination – agreed to deal with just one aspect: whether all of the “pre- viability ”on elective abortions violate the Constitution.

“Sustainability” is a key concept in the abortion debate, since Roe vs. Wade defined it as when a fetus has the potential to survive outside the womb after birth, natural or induced, when supported by modern medicine. Not only has such a definition created a moving target with the advancement of medicine, but it has also opened the door to continued debate.

What the Bishops and Baptists Say

In their brief, the Catholic bishops and Southern Baptists – unsurprisingly – begin by declaring that previous key abortion court rulings were “deeply flawed” and “should be overturned.”

Southern Catholic bishops and Baptists begin by declaring that previous key abortion court rulings were “deeply flawed” and “should be overturned.”

“The Constitution does not create a right to abortion of an unborn child before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy,” the brief said. “Abortion is inherently different from other types of personal decisions to which this court has granted constitutional protection. A claimed right to abortion has no basis in a constitutional text or in American history and tradition.

According to Catholic teaching, “life” begins at conception, and even the act of conception should not be hindered by contraception. Baptist beliefs about conception and abortion have been less rigid and have, in fact, changed over time.

In the 1960s, it was not uncommon for even theologically conservative Southern Baptist pastors to support the right to abortion in certain circumstances. Over time, however, as the SBC took a more right-wing turn, its public positions on abortion came to more closely mirror those of Catholics – with the major exception that Southern Baptists do not preach against it. contraception. The change culminated this summer at the SBC’s annual meeting, where the messengers bypassed their own resolutions committee to adopt the most restrictive language the SBC has ever approved regarding abortion.

The tribunal’s brief focuses on fetal viability as an “entirely arbitrary” measure that defies “policy justification”.

“No constitutional basis”

A key argument of the Catholic-Baptist memoir is that the Constitution offers no explicit support or allowance for abortion: “The Constitution does not create a right to abortion of an unborn child at any stage of life. the pregnancy.

Therefore, attempts by the courts to define viability and assess various time frames and circumstances under which abortions might be permitted are doomed to fail and create confusion, argues the brief. “Neither the constitutional text nor the history supports abortion just before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy. “

“Abortion involves the deliberate taking of an innocent human life and, like the homicide of a born person, it is an appropriate subject for state prohibition. “

Further, the brief argues that any abortion should be viewed as the killing of an innocent human life: “Abortion involves the deliberate taking of an innocent human life and, like the homicide of a born person, it is is an appropriate subject for state prohibition. “

The answer to this problem, argues the brief, is for federal courts to step back and let elected lawmakers pass laws restricting abortion.

“The right to abortion is in conflict with structural constraints (such as the separation of powers and federalism) which leave important questions to the people through their elected representatives, state and federal,” explains the brief. “The idea that it is for the federal judiciary, and not the elected branches of government, to decide on a public policy issue as important as abortion is in contradiction with the principles of popular sovereignty (consent of the governed) and separation of powers. at the very heart of our constitutional government.

“The elected representatives of the people, who by virtue of their election and relatively short terms of office remain accountable to the people, are vested with exclusive legislative power subject only to the constraints that the people themselves have agreed to put out of reach. political majorities. State governments remain the repository of all political powers that are not specifically delegated to the federal government. “

While state legislatures have rushed to pass abortion laws, the federal legislature has not. Most of the limitations imposed by Congress on abortion are due to spending limitations, primarily those imposed by the Hyde Amendment.

“The way to prevent it is to send the problem back to the States, where it really belongs.”

Given the inability to restrict abortion through federal law, abortion opponents have repeatedly turned to state legislatures – which is the setup of the current case that is heading now to the Supreme Court.

This cycle of states trying to create restrictions on abortion, only to then have their new laws blocked in state and federal courts, must stop, says the brief: “The disastrous result is that nothing regarding the review. by federal courts abortion regulations are never really settled. Even modest abortion legislation of a type previously upheld by this court is now subject to new litigation in lower courts, state by state, on the basis of different factual records. “

The brief concludes: “In the end, these cases, with all the problems they cause for the lower courts, end up at the door of that jurisdiction. And according to current case law, it will never stop. It shouldn’t be. The way to prevent it is to send the problem back to the States, where it properly belongs. “

Religious opinion and public opinion

The Supreme Court rarely takes public opinion into account in its decisions, ostensibly focusing on a precise interpretation of the law. However, those who appeal to the court often cite public opinion as the measure of their cause.

This is the case of the Catholic and Baptist memoir, which specifies that the two previous cases, Roe deer and Casey, “Unlike other landmark decisions of this court, have never been generally accepted by the American public.” Roe deer and Casey have been the subject of continued criticism from judges and lawyers, including those who identify as pro-choice.

However, this assessment does not match survey data.

Gallup reported in September 2020, for example, that “nearly eight in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal to some extent, and a majority don’t want Roe vs. Wade overturned. “In the 2020 poll, Gallup found that 29% of Americans think abortion should be legal” under all circumstances “, 14% say it should be legal” in most circumstances “and 35% say it should be legal “only in a few circumstances”.

The percentage of Americans who align with bishops and Baptists? Gallup responds, “20% say it should be illegal under all circumstances. “

The percentage of Americans who align with bishops and Baptists? Gallup responds, “20% say it should be illegal under all circumstances. “

Pew Research recently reported even stronger US support for abortion rights. According to its spring 2021 survey: “About six in 10 American adults (59%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases” while “39% say it should be illegal in all or most of the cases. “

The Pew Report also said: “While American support for legal abortion has fluctuated somewhat over the past decades, it has remained relatively constant over the past five years. “

Likewise, the Public Religion Research Institute reported in 2019: “Only 15% of Americans overall say abortion should be illegal in all cases, a number that has not changed since 2014. Notably, there is no state in which more than a quarter of residents support a total ban on the legality of abortion.

This is not to say that abortion is not a very controversial issue. Gallup researchers noted, “The country is far from unified on the extent to which abortion should be legal.

And Pew explained, “While abortion is a divisive issue, about six in 10 American adults do not take an absolutist stance on abortion.”

Related Articles:

SBC calls for “the immediate abolition of abortion without exception or compromise”

Why we have to speak on abortion | Opinion of Russ Dean

When To Be ‘Pro-Life’ Really Isn’t: How I Became a Democrat Who Opposes Abortion | Analysis by Chris Conley


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