Abortion Access

Protecting Abortion Rights Is Central To Church-State Separation

  Rob Boston

Just in case anyone needs a reminder:

  • Americans United fought for birth control access against entrenched religious opposition in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
  • Americans United supported Roe v. Wade when the ruling was handed down in 1973, pointing out that the nation’s abortion policy should be determined by health care professionals and scientists, not religious leaders.
  • Americans United has since then repeatedly told the Supreme Court that state laws curbing abortion that incorporate religious doctrine should be struck down as unconstitutional.

Is abortion a church-state issue? Absolutely. Will Americans United continue to advocate for the right of people to make health care decisions without religious interference? Count on it.

If the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that surfaced last night turns out to be accurate and the court’s final majority opinion, it means the end of Roe v. Wade – and legal abortion in probably about half the states. It’s nothing short of a disaster for reproductive freedom.

Commentators have called this a seismic development – and it is. Equally seismic should be the response. All over America, people of varied faith backgrounds and those of no particular religious belief must join forces to call this decision what it is: Christian nationalism in action. This rollback of our rights is the result of a radicalized court brought to you, ironically, by a biblically illiterate president cheered on by a Christian nationalist base that is bound and determined to leave the wall of separation in rubble and use their narrow interpretation of religion as the standard for all to follow.

And don’t think they’ll stop here. Access to birth control, marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and a host of other rights could soon be on the chopping block. AU President and CEO Rachel Laser addressed these concerns in a statement today: “The end of Roe is just the beginning. Next on the hit list are a broad array of protections for personal liberty. The same line of attack Alito uses on Roe and Casey can also be employed against contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut), interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia), marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) and basic LGBTQ rights (Lawrence v. Texas).”

This is the America Christian nationalists want. But it is not the America most Americans want. We know that the American people support church-state separation. They support keeping abortion legal. They support LGBTQ rights.

The country is changing, and the future does not belong to Christian nationalists. The future belongs to Americans who will strive for a vision of religious freedom anchored in true freedom, where, as AU’s slogan puts it, we have freedom without favor and equality without exception. We’ll demand an America where religious freedom is a shield to protect rights, not a sword that harms others or takes away their rights.

As daunting as it may seem, our task is to build that America. We must do it day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year – and brick by brick until that church-state wall is once again high and firm.

It won’t happen overnight, and it’s going to take a lot of work. Americans United is ready. We hope you are, too. 

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