The Republican Party, the right-wingers and those deeply entrenched in a specific way of thinking are jubilant – and my Roman Catholic Church officially lauds the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision on abortion. The Vatican’s Academy for Life said that “the fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world”.
I am holding my breath – and no, I am not convinced that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position. Polls tell the opposite.
Obviously, the world would be a better place without abortion – but also without unwanted pregnancies and with programmes supporting single moms and difficult social situations. We all know that this is not happening, that there is a lot of lip service.
Second, this is not a decision born out of democracy: it is an almost fascist takeover of a democratic institution essential for justice served in a democratic society. Since Donald Trump, the US has lost many facets of a functioning democratic system. Radical white evangelical fundamentalists have taken over the reins at the Supreme Court and are forcing their ill convictions onto society.
Candidates for the Supreme Court bend the truth under questioning in their confirmation hearings – one could also say there were lies and deceit in the run-up to confirmation. We also heard about sexual harassment and more by one of the now elected judges – and we know that Mitch McConnell abused the system to avoid an Obama-proposed candidate. This is politics instead of justice, as a matter of fact.
No, the end never justifies the means – and the hijacking of the American democratic experiment by white macho evangelical and Catholic hardliners is one of the greatest dangers to democratic means in the US; it is a great danger to long-fought-for liberties and civil rights. Fake news, lies and outright criminal activities against the laws of democracy, as the hearings in Washington bring to light, cannot be the base of a juridical decision of the highest court of the land.
I cannot, and will not, celebrate an attack on the values of democracy. I am appalled to know that the reality is that poor women will bear the brunt and consequences of this decision – there will be illegal and dangerous abortion options with deadly consequences. The writing is on the wall that – see the Alito and Thomas opinions – other basic rights will be on the chopping block in the future.
Abortion in civil societies is a much-debated issue – and obviously the sanctity of life is at stake. But so is the sanctity of life attacked by the death penalty, by wars and certainly by current US gun laws. The obvious schizophrenia of evangelical fundamentalists to pick what is convenient and to ignore or even promote the opposite of the rest is breathtaking.
Once again: the end never justifies the means – celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision is ill-advised. It brings more chaos and more division to society, and more danger towards the democratic institutions in the US. It will also cost lives.
Obviously, religious institutions and faith-based groups can and should have an opinion and also participate in the public debate. But there are rules and ethics when it comes to how decisions in a democratic system are made.
If we are honest, we all have to admit: abortion will not disappear by a court decision, but by an openness of society to discuss sexuality, by means of avoiding pregnancy and by politics supporting children, single parents and families. These are all things that religious fundamentalists and evangelical hardliners – and also organised religion – are not known for putting into practice.
Convincing people in a democracy to do the right thing (whatever that is) is always a process of words and deeds, but also carries the freedom of those we try to convince to say “no”. We people of faith are part of this process, but in my humble view we can never support supreme decisions which are based on lies, deceit, political gambling and hardly covered intentions born out of private religious fundamentalist convictions.
The decision in the matter of Roe v Wade is at the end a disservice to the aim of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and of acknowledging reality; it will polarise and militarise those in favour of or against it, and it brings into disrepute the standing of one of the most important institutions in a democracy.
And the victims in all this are at the end, again: women. DM