Many of us are still trying to wrap our heads around the news of a leaked opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that effectively dismantles the constitutional rights afforded to women in Roe v. Wade. For the first time in United States history, rights women have held for over 50 years will be rescinded. What’s worse, the legal argument lays the groundwork for undermining civil rights for several vulnerable communities, including the LGBTQ+ community and racial minorities.
It’s not just a woman’s right to choose that’s on the line; this judgment undermines the legal concept of privacy for every one of us. Ashley Nicole Black said, “There is a particular slap in the face of being told we can vote for abortion rights by the court that gutted voting rights.” She has a point.
Of course, many of us are outraged. We are heartbroken. We are shocked. We are scared of what this means for ourselves, the people we love, and this nation.
The theological questions here can seem complicated but in fact, I believe are simple. Dan Maguire, a former Jesuit priest and professor of moral theology and ethics at Marquette University, says that to have a child can be a sacred choice, but to not have a child can also be a sacred choice.
Professor Rebecca Todd Peters expands that to suggest that a better framework for engaging this debate is based on one of reproductive justice. For her, the questions focus on the right not to have a child, the right to have a child, and the right to parent the children that we have. In that frame, it’s no longer a binary choice but a more honest conversation about motherhood, autonomy, family, and freedom.
And that is the problem.
If we’re going to talk about motherhood and women’s freedom, we’re closer to the real issue at work here. The United States pro-life position on abortion is based on white Christian patriarchy. If women are afforded free will, if the LGBTQ community is afforded free will, if minority people of color are afforded free will, then white Christian patriarchy will not endure.
That’s what’s really at stake here. We’re not talking about pro-life or pro-choice. We’re fighting for equal rights or the continued supremacy of white patriarchal power.
Once again we face the great sin of American culture: one group of people believes that they are better than all others.
Of course, there is nothing more UNchristian than that.
We are in this together,
Rev. Cameron Trimble
Author of Searching for the Sacred: Meditations on Faith, Hope and Love