Religious leaders speak out on Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 9:58 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many religious leaders have spoken out. Some are in favor of the ruling and most are against it. But where do different religions stand on the issue?

For many religions, like Judaism, the view on abortion centers around the question of, when does life begin?

“In Judaism, the fetus is a potential life until it is born. There is even a provision in Jewish law that within the first 40 days of life, a newborn is still not fully given the same status as every other person,” said Rabbi Amy Small of the Ohavi Zedek synagogue.

Small says in some cases abortion is appropriate.

“The notion of having families is central to Judaism, but there are times where life is threatened by pregnancy,” she said.

Imam Islam Hassan at the Islamic Society of Vermont says similar rules apply. He says, generally speaking, Islam is pro-life, but in some cases abortion is acceptable. However, there is a time limit.

“In cases of rape for example, in cases of fetus deformity or any mental illness that will make the parents incompetent of raising a child. That can all take place within the first four months of pregnancy,” Hassan said.

Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst is a religion professor at the University of Vermont. She says for certain faiths, abortion is prohibited.

“The prominent religion in this country, that is is a particular type of Christianity, that is practiced by particular groups. So for us, it’s white, Christian, evangelicals that have that understanding of anti-abortion, and in some cases anti-contraception all together,” Morgenstein Fuerst said.

But Christianity has a variety of denominations with differing values. Rev. Paul Sangree with the United Church of Christ, a protestant denomination of Christianity, says they believe in a woman’s right to choose.

“Other Christian groups would disagree with the things that I’ve said, but we believe that the life of a fetus is important to god. The life of a mother is important to god. We trust women to make their own moral decisions,” Sangree said.

Catholicism is the largest denomination of Christianity. I reached out to Diocese of Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne, who did not get back to me before this story was published.

Despite which side of the issue a particular religious group stands on, Morgenstein Fuerst says it’s important to have difficult, complex conversations.

“I think what you’ll start to see is abortion activists work across religious divides -- particularly because this new overturning of Roe versus Wade really does impact many religions and many religious people’s ability to practice their religion safely,” Morgenstein Fuerst said.

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