France has just enshrined abortion rights in its Constitution. What’s wrong with the U.S.?

It’s its collapse of the church into the affairs of the state. For example, the recent Alabama Supreme Court theology-ridden ruling (LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Association) conferred personhood status to frozen IVF embryos as doing God’s will. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote in the ruling that “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.” With this ruling, reproductive justice is thrown out of the window. Women, girls, and people with the capacity for pregnancy in the state of Alabama have been relegated to human chattel and birthing incubators. And, if you thought Margaret Atwood’s, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a fictive dystopian novel, read it now as a survival guide because this ruling will have broader implications in the ongoing anti-abortion war.

Pro-life versus the life of the child

Women, girls, and people with the capacity to give birth, caught up in the pro-life battle, need to know their lives don’t matter. Neither does that of the child. While Parker’s theocratic ruling takes his concepts of “pro-life” to a newer mean-spirited and punitive level, the label “pro-life” has always used religion to cloak the misogyny and transphobia of anti-abortion legislation since Roe v Wade was ratified in 1973. The care for the fetus doesn’t extend beyond birth. Former Massachusetts Democratic gay congressman Barney Frank said for pro-lifers, “Life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Studies have shown that unwanted children born in states or areas where there are abortion restrictions have much more challenging lives and often live in poverty.

The Trump effect

The precursor for the recent Alabama decision was the landmark Supreme Court decision passing Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022), overturning Roe v Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Before Roe was overturned, abortion was a fundamental right under the Constitution. This right afforded women, girls, and people with the capacity for pregnancy under the 14th Amendment full citizenship, the right to privacy, bodily autonomy, and respect for a person’s choice without judgment. However, religion drove the Dobbs’s decision and was influenced by conservative Catholic thinkers, theologians, and Supreme Court justices.

With the overturning of Roe v Wade, we saw justice wasn’t blind but rather biased. This is the effect of Trump’s presidency. Trump nominated 274 conservative Republicans to federal benches and three to the Supreme Court - Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett - who all sided in overturning Roe v. Wade. Today, as with the Dobb decision to overturn Roe, the Supreme Court comprises six Catholics, accounting for two-thirds of its total number of justices, of which five are pro-lifers.

Abortion rights are queer rights

Before the Dobbs decision and now Alabama’s, in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, due to health disparities, access to a safe abortion was primarily out of their reach. Women and girls, however, are not the only ones who need abortion care. Nonbinary people, intersex individuals, gender non-conforming folks, and trans men need abortion care, too!

“I am a transgender man, which means that although I am a man, I was assigned female at birth, which means that I have a uterus, which means that I could get pregnant. Which means that I could need an abortion,” Schuyler Bailar, a transgender athlete and activist, told CBSNews.com in 2021. “I am here to remind you to make it absolutely clear that people of all genders can have abortions, and people of all genders should have safe and legal access to abortions.”

According to the 2023 Guttmacher Institute’s Abortion Patient Survey, 16 percent of U.S. abortion patients do not identify as heterosexual women. This 16 percent then approximates the 2020 survey results to 149,000 abortions obtained by respondents who do not identify as either straight or cisgendered.

Using religion to codify discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans began with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993 under the guise of religious freedom. In 2018, SCOTUS ruled in “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission” in favor of the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the grounds of religious freedom. Moreover, anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ legislation go hand in hand because they both are done in the name of God.

Reproductive justice, however, is essential to a person’s right to choose when and whether to have an abortion. SCOTUS shouldn’t decide, and neither should the church. Perhaps the U.S. needs to take a page from France’s Constitution.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

member and Columnist, The Reverend

Irene Monroe is an ordained minister,

motivational speaker and she speaks for

a sector of society that is frequently

invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly

Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on

WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio

and a weekly Friday segment “The Take”

on New England Channel NEWS (NECN).

She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a

syndicated religion columnist. Her

columns appear in cities across the

country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also

she writes a column in the Boston home

LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and

Cambridge Chronicle. A native of

Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated

from Wellesley College and Union

Theological Seminary at Columbia

University, and served as a pastor at an

African-American church in New Jersey

before coming to Harvard Divinity School

to do her doctorate. She has received the

Harvard University Certificate of

Distinction in Teaching several times

while being the head teaching fellow of

the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister

in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is

the author of the best seller, THE GOOD

BOOK. She appears in the film For the

Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the

Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an

Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s

coming out story is profiled in “CRISIS:

40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social,

and Religious Pain and Trauma of

Growing up Gay in America" and in

"Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston

Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50

Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled

twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living

Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for

her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the

Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's

research library on the history of women

in America. Her website is

irenemonroe.com. Contact the Rev.

Monroe and BC.

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