The U.S. Supreme Court overruled the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade on Friday, resulting in currently no constitutional right to an abortion. The decision, released Friday in the case of Thomas Dobbs, et. al. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ruled 6-3 to uphold Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy.
Choice is a practice of respect for difference, including religious difference. For some religious communities, being pro-life is intrinsically linked to their faith, while for others being pro-choice is a direct expression of their beliefs as well. The complexity and diversity of religious opinions on reproductive rights is something we are all wrestling with as humans. This decision affects each of us (as well as our communities) in deeply personal and distinct ways, and we recommend giving space to any emotions that may come up, as needed.
Perspectives and conversations on the ruling that overturned Roe may directly or indirectly address religion or the religious beliefs of community members. What’s needed is an environment where everyone can participate in a discussion around this SCOTUS decision, in an ethical and honest way. A practice of respecting religious differences is even in disagreement with someone’s perspective, we maintain a space where we first listen for understanding rather than agreement. Some recommendations we offer when wading into these discussions include:
- Engage bravely; this looks different for each person, and for some of us, it might even appear like listening. We trust you to make that decision for yourself.
- Be intentional with the language we use during this time. Avoid generalizations and consider the impact of our words on people who hold identities and experiences different from your own.
- Be responsible for your reaction. Exercise restraint when engaging with someone who says something that you disagree with; distinguish between your disagreement with a person’s position from disagreeing with the person.
- Share the stage. Conversations are meant to be collaborative and inclusive, and this topic does not affect all identities and communities in the same way. If you notice that you are talking a lot, consider making room for others by holding silence, listening, and witnessing the other person’s experience.
This is where we are today. The journey toward a society where we respect religious differences around reproductive health continues. And the fulfillment of Tanenbaum’s mission continues. The question for us all to ask ourselves is, “What is mine to do?” And then let’s get to doing that.