Local church leaders had mixed reactions Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Speaking from her denomination’s national assembly in Louisville, Ky., Stephanie Anthony, pastor at the Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva, said that her church “has a super long history of advocacy for reproductive justice.”
“We have a long history of trusting women and other people who can get pregnant,” Anthony said, referring to transgender men who have uteruses. “My faith position, my own private position – I’m angry and disappointed that the right has been stripped away from so many people. Abortion is healthcare and healthcare should be accessible to all people.”
The Rev. David J. Malloy, bishop of the Rockford Diocese of Rockford which oversees local Roman Catholic parishes, meanwhile, issued a statement after today’s announcement about the decision. Malloy said the decision is a “moment for profound reflection” for the country.
“The Catholic Church, along with many other people of faith and of good will, has long sought the reversal of the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. That tragic decision legalized abortion in the United States. The result has been over 63 million lives lost by abortion. Each of those babies were recognized by science, reason and faith as members of the human family who were made in the image and likeness of God and who had already begun their journey with us as our brothers and sisters.”
The Supreme Court’s decision on Friday ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. Friday’s outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. Access to abortion remains legal in Illinois.
Anthony said the decision will not change abortion accessibility for women who have time, money and connections to travel to other states or countries where abortion is legal.
“Those who live in poverty with limited access to resources — they will bear the brunt of this decision,” Anthony said.
“They have jobs that don’t include vacation or paid leave or sick leave. They will have lost income to meet the requirements of travel and waiting periods. Folks already hurt by this are already largely are in a very disadvantaged situation. They are the least of these,” Anthony said “It’s completely unjust in the way it will be applied and impact individuals and families.”
The bishop, meanwhile, reflected on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 and said the court’s ruling doesn’t mean an end to the national debate over abortion.
“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has recognized the flawed legal reasoning that removed that discussion from the legislative bodies elected by the voters,” Malloy said in his statement. “Today’s decision now returns the abortion debate to each state’s legislative body. That legislative process will continue and, as people committed to human rights and the protections for both those not yet born and for expectant mothers, we need to engage our representatives by persuasion and by our votes. Our voices can save lives.”
Still, Unitarian Universalist Church in Geneva Rev. Scot Hull said his church is “absolutely and uncategorically in support of women’s rights.”
“That hasn’t changed and I don’t believe that ever will change,” Hull said. “I am personally shocked and I am outraged and I am absolutely in support of ensuring the safety and well being of women in our community, our state and in our nation.”
Hull said the decision is the work of a long game, a long plan and the work of many hands.
“Undoing it is not the work of a single day or even a single election,” Hull said. “But I’m hoping there are enough like-minded human beings of good heart and good faith, taking note and waking up and realizing every voice matters, every vote matters and come November, we are going to make those voices and votes heard and felt.”
Anthony also encouraged people to pay attention to elections, including those in other states.
“Continue to support those legislators who have been on the side of reproductive justice. They need to hear from constituents,” Anthony said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report