World leaders condemn US decision to end abortion rights; Orthodox position explained

By 3 months ago

Political leaders around the world have criticized the US Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling which gave women the constitutional right to abortion which had since 1973 permitted abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy in the United States.

"I think it's a big step backwards. I've always believed in a woman's right to choose and I stick to that view, and that's why the UK has the laws that it does," said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the decision as "horrific."

"No government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body," Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his "solidarity with women whose freedoms are today challenged" by the US Supreme Court, while Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said that legal and safe abortion was a fundamental right.

"Depriving women of their individual rights is a backlash against decades of hard-fought work," Linde said.

The ruling has sparked fears that many women will in future be resorting to unsafe and dangerous abortion practices given that now it will go underground as many individual states will ban the procedure.

Thirteen states have already passed so-called trigger laws to automatically outlaw abortion.

It is expected that after the Supreme Court ruling, about 36 million women of reproductive age will lose access to safe abortion according to Planned Parenthood, a healthcare organisation that provides abortions.

Orthodox Christian Position 

Early this week, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, issued a comprehensive statement on June 19, on the Orthodox Church’s regard for human life and, in particular, the termination of human life.

On the matter of abortion the statement reads:

Our salvation begins with a conception. The Mother of God’s miraculous conception of her son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ marks the beginning of new life and hope in the world. As we sing in the Troparion that celebrates the Annunciation, “Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery!”

Our liturgical calendar includes other feasts of conception, including the Righteous Anna’s Conception of the Mother of God and the Conception of John the Baptist by his parents Elizabeth and Zachariah. The Church has integrated these celebrations into its life not only as an affirmation of these figures who played such important roles in salvation history, but also because these feasts teach us that human life is bestowed by God and that the origins of every new human being are clearly inseparable from conception. Therefore, human life in its earliest manifestations in the womb is sacred and inviolable. Any act to terminate life in the womb – whether by abortive medications, medical procedures, or destructive behavior – denies this truth, is considered murder, and risks terrible spiritual consequences for those involved.

As with any instance of sin, mercy and healing – not retribution and punishment – are the way of the Lord. The Church is called to minister to those seeking abortions, those who have had or those who have been forced to have abortions, and those who have performed abortions, knowing that abortions are often sought because of poverty, abuse, coercion, neglect, despair, or the influence of a life-denying ethos that has become a societal norm. Church-sponsored and other programs that provide spiritual, physical, psychological, and financial support to expectant single mothers and couples in situations in which abortion is being considered, and to young families in need of extra care, should be vigorously supported by the Church and the faithful.

Current societal trends condone abortions for what some perceive as non-desirable human qualities, including physical or chromosomal abnormalities, or a less desirable sex. The Church appreciates, respects, and cares for all manner of human life and, therefore, never condones abortion in these cases. Every human life is worthy of our prayer and protection.

The Assembly of Bishops has previously acknowledged that there are “rare but serious medical instances where mother and child may require extraordinary actions” (Statement on Sanctity of Life, 2019); see also Assembly of Bishops Endorses Alternatives to Women in Crisis Pregnancies, 2021). This refers to tragic situations in which an abortive measure will preserve life. For example, if both mother and unborn child will almost certainly perish should the pregnancy continue but the mother will likely live if an abortion is administered, the Church grieves the tragedy of the situation and offers space for the discernment of the mother, the father, and the pastor as to the most life-giving course of action. Yet, these situations are unique and unusual and do not condone abortion as a norm in any way. Furthermore, the Church does not accept contemporary thinking that links free will with the right to abortion.

We continue to uncompromisingly reject any acceptance of abortion, while creating a merciful and compassionate path for all of those who have experienced abortion to journey back to the Church and to re-commit to human life as sacred and inviolable.

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