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Anti-abortion religious groups vow the end of Roe vs. wade is just the beginning

Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Religious News

For Southern Baptists across the nation, Friday was a day of triumph, rejoicing and praising God.

After 50 years of legal battles and prayer, Roe vs. Wade was overturned as the court declared a woman's right to an abortion is not protected by the Constitution.

But even as millions of Southern Baptists celebrated what they regard as a historic victory, their president, Bart Barber, was already telling the denomination's 47,000 member churches that it was time to roll up their sleeves and get to work, especially those in states like Texas, where a trigger law made abortions illegal the moment the court decision was announced.

The world was watching, Barber suggested, and evangelical and Catholic religious organizations that have waged war against legalized abortion would need to show that mothers, as well as their unborn children, would be supported and thrive in a post-Roe America.

"There are people across the country that are having some fear today," Barber said in a live video streamed by the Baptist Press. "But if our congregations can help people have healthy outcomes that lead to healthy families ... then we can show California and other states that the world is not coming to an end in Texas. Women are not deprived of the opportunity to flourish in Texas. It's not 'The Handmaid's Tale' in Texas."

Catholic leaders struck a similar chord in the days since the court's ruling: Overturning Roe vs. Wade did not represent the end of their work, they said. In some ways, it was just the beginning.

 

Antiabortion religious leaders for decades have insisted they care as much about the welfare of expectant mothers as they do about their unborn children. Now they will be under pressure from abortion-rights organizations and their political allies, as well as women denied abortions and their families, to step up to help secure more funding and resources for expanded prenatal and childcare, increased family paid leave, and help with smoothing adoption red tape and holding deadbeat dads and abusive partners accountable.

Whether they will is yet to be determined.

Less than 24 hours after the court's decision, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the SBC, was reimagining its focus, said ERLC acting president Brent Leatherwood. He said the group would pivot away from antiabortion advocacy on the federal level and toward supporting legislation that he believes will help women facing unexpected and unwanted pregnancies such as bolstering the capacity for faith-based and community childcare providers and making insurance more family-friendly.

"This is going to go myriad ways and we are eager to be part of those," he said. "Let's make sure that families are moving to a place where abortion is not even thinkable."

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