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Women on both sides of the abortion debate hold signs in Washington, D.C., in 2016.
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Christians react to U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Many pleased, but others concerned as justices strike down 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Celebration. Worry. Protest.

Such are Christians’ varied responses to today’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. That landmark 1973 decision legalized abortion nationwide.

The long-awaited — or long-feared, depending on one’s perspective — opinion by the court’s conservative majority will let individual states set their own laws on abortion.

“Today is a victory for millions of babies,” said Bettye Garrett, a member of the Rolling Hills Church of Christ in Mt. Sterling, Ky.

The 73-year-old Christian said she has written letters to politicians and spoken out against abortion since she was young. “Of course I will try to support pregnant women,” she said after today’s news.

“Today is a victory for millions of babies.”

Tim Tripp, senior minister for the West Side Church of Christ in Russellville, Ark., said the Supreme Court’s decision righted a previous wrong.

“I believe that life begins at conception,” Tripp said. “God created life and designed it to begin with the miracle of conception, and people should not interfere.”

The 58-year-old counselor has volunteered with pregnancy crisis centers. He hopes to keep  working with women facing unexpected pregnancies — an opportunity likely to grow due to Arkansas’ trigger laws outlawing abortion. 

Several states, like Arkansas, already have laws in place that will immediately go into effect to restrict or ban abortions. Others with such laws include Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition, states such as Florida, Oklahoma and Texas have passed restrictive measures in the past year. 

Julie Bruton, a 57-year-old member of The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas, has mixed feelings. 

“I don’t want abortions to happen,” Bruton said after today’s ruling. “But I don’t know if making them illegal is the best way to prevent abortions. It seems if we could prevent unwanted pregnancies, that is a better way to stop abortions. I really don’t think anyone likes abortions.”

Conner Westerby, right, pickets a Michigan clinic, joined by fellow Christians Laura Sawyer and Shannon Filipiak.

Conner Westerby, right, pickets a Michigan clinic last year, joined by fellow Christians Laura Sawyer and Shannon Filipiak.

She fears the ruling may polarize people even more, after two years of social unrest and a global pandemic that have left communities divided. 

Nick Franklin, minister for the Mt. Morris Church of Christ in Michigan — where abortion rights have yet to be decided — would have preferred to ban abortion outright rather leave it to individual states. 

The 25-year-old believes abortion is murder and has voted for anti-abortion candidates. But he acknowledges that being “pro-life” requires more than just votes. 

“I would love to be part of a congregational ministry that caters to pregnant women,” Franklin said. “We don’t currently have anything like that at the congregation I serve, but perhaps with this decision, and an increase of demand, we can begin one. 

“My vision for a ministry to pregnant women would be one that provides emotional, financial and spiritual support, especially for single mothers.”

For years, Terry Pace supported a similar ministry in Michigan to the one Franklin imagines starting. 

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Pace, a 77-year-old member of the Otisville Church of Christ, supported a maternity home run by Churches of Christ that helped women carry pregnancies to full term and place the baby for adoption if needed. 

It is a cause he felt connected to. Pace’s own daughter experienced an unexpected pregnancy while unmarried and had faced the option of abortion. 

“Many of her friends told her to get an abortion,” Pace said. “I said, ‘What do you want?’ She said, ‘I want to keep my baby.’ I said, ‘I will help you,’ and I did.”

Related: What the Supreme Court’s abortion leak means

The pregnancy resulted in his grandson, whom Pace raised after his daughter’s death. The circumstances of the conception and birth didn’t outweigh his grandson’s worth. 

“He was and is worth anything I can do for him, just like my other children and grandchildren,” Pace added.

However, some Christians disagree with the ruling. 

“The choice for abortion is a difficult one … but should be between a woman, her partner, her doctor and her God.”

Niki Tucker, a member of East County Church of Christ in Gresham, Ore., faced the option of abortion 40 years ago — nine years after Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right. Because of her faith, she decided to have her son and to put him up for adoption. 

For years following her decision, Tucker, now 60, marched in anti-abortion rallies and spoke out against abortion. But as she matured, she said she realized the decision wasn’t as black and white as she once believed. 

“The choice for abortion is a difficult one … but should be between a woman, her partner, her doctor and her God,” Tucker said. “Overturning Roe v. Wade takes the choice from a woman and places it in the government’s hands. … As Christians, we can’t and shouldn’t try to legislate others’ rights to (bodily) autonomy.”

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Filed under: abortion abortion rights anti-abortion Culture Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization National News pro-choice pro-life Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Top Stories U.S. Supreme Court

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