Dear Friends in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I write to you with much sadness. This morning the U. S. Supreme Court overturned a 49-year-old law guarding women’s rights to make personal decisions concerning their healthcare. While I am not an activist for abortion, I am a strong advocate for a woman’s right to make her own choices, not the government. It saddens me that once again the message is clear: A woman’s body is not her own and must bow to the government’s rule. I know of no other laws that affect men in such a way.
Below is the statement from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. He expresses my sentiments of sadness and concern for all those who will be affected by this decision, especially the vulnerable – the “least of these”. Whether you are a supporter of this ruling or not, I ask that you read Bishop Curry’s words. I also ask that you sit silently and reflect upon your neighbor who may not agree with your position. How can you show your love for your neighbor with a different perspective, and yet we are called to love? I pray that in the midst of this news, the Church can show the way to live in peace and love in spite of differences.
I often close Sunday services with these words, “Be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” May we place in front of us the desire to love and be kind as we travel together on the road to Glory.
I am as always
Your servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Morris J. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Louisiana
Today the Supreme Court released its decision in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court has overturned the constitutional right to abortion that was recognized in the seminal 1973 case Roe v. Wade.
While I, like many, anticipated this decision, I am deeply grieved by it. I have been ordained more than 40 years, and I have served as a pastor in poor communities; I have witnessed firsthand the negative impact this decision will have.
We as a church have tried carefully to be responsive both to the moral value of women having the right to determine their healthcare choices as well as the moral value of all life. Today’s decision institutionalizes inequality because women with access to resources will be able to exercise their moral judgment in ways that women without the same resources will not.
This is a pivotal day for our nation, and I acknowledge the pain, fear, and hurt that so many feel right now. As a church, we stand with those who will feel the effects of this decision—and in the weeks, months, and years to come.
The Episcopal Church maintains that access to equitable health care, including reproductive health care and reproductive procedures, is “an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being” (2018-D032). The church holds that “reproductive health procedures should be treated as all other medical procedures, and not singled out or omitted by or because of gender” (2018-D032). The Episcopal Church sustains its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them” (2018-D032). As stated in the 1994 Act of Convention, the church also opposes any “executive or judicial action to abridge the right of a woman to reach an informed decision…or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision” (1994-A054).
The court’s decision eliminates federal protections for abortion and leaves the regulation of abortion to the states. The impact will be particularly acute for those who are impoverished or lack consistent access to health care services. As Episcopalians, we pray for those who may be harmed by this decision, especially for women and other people who need these reproductive services. We pray for the poor and vulnerable who may not have other options for access. We urge you to make your voice heard in the way you feel called but always to do so peacefully and with respect and love of neighbor.