Editor’s Note: This week “The Wall of Separation” is concluding its series recounting the top 10 church-state stories from 2022. Today’s post looks at the backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court abolishing nationwide abortion rights when it overturned Roe v. Wade.
After the U.S. Supreme Court voted June 24 to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion, political pundits predicted a backlash.
It was not long in coming. On Aug. 2, residents of Kansas voted to protect abortion rights in the state. Politically, Kansas is a solidly red state, and abortion opponents tried to tilt the vote by scheduling it for a primary election that was likely to attract more conservative voters. Yet the results were lopsided: 59% voted for choice.
Three months later, voters in five more states – California, Vermont, Michigan, Montana and Kentucky – chose to protect abortion rights. It’s clear that this issue is resonating with voters, and some political analysts argue it contributed to the Republican Party’s failure to generate a “red wave” in the midterm elections.
Abortion Bans Proliferate In The States
A number of states have either banned abortion outright or placed such strict restrictions on the procedure that it’s available only in rare cases. And despite conservatives claiming they want states to be able to decide when abortion is legal, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) proposed a nationwide abortion ban, which AU promptly condemned.
Some of the state bans are being challenged in court – and there are more cases in the pipeline. Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Kentucky case, explaining why abortion bans violate church-state separation.
When Roe was overturned, Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser vowed, “Religious freedom demands the right to an abortion so people can make their own reproductive decisions according to their own principles. Abortion bans undermine religious freedom by attempting to impose one religious viewpoint on all of us. Americans United is readying religious freedom litigation which will bring this argument to our courts.”
Look for more information about that litigation in the weeks to come. And be assured that Americans United does not intend to remain idle when reproductive freedom policies are governed by the repressive theologies favored by a minority of Americans.
After all, reproductive freedom is religious freedom.