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Jackie Gingrich Cushman / May 5, 2022

Love One Another

Regardless of your stance on Roe, it would be wonderful if we could discuss it with empathy, love and understanding and leave the judging to God.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and as I did last week in my column, I will write again about my mother, Jackie Battley Gingrich, who died in 2013 yet remains a living inspiration to me. This week, I am writing about a different aspect to this remarkable woman. Even before she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in 2004, she knew that life is short, and that laughter brings us together.

My advice last week was to find someone you disagree with and share a laugh with them. This week, I am urging you to put that advice to the test — if you are brave enough.

Earlier this week, a draft opinion was leaked from the U.S. Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that protects the right of pregnant women to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. The leaked opinion has led to protests and fear of government intervention on other issues.

There is also some, but not enough, outrage that a draft opinion was leaked at all. No opinion should be released until the decision is firm and the opinion and dissent are finalized by the Court. “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in a statement.

He is correct. The leak also might do exactly what our Founding Fathers had sought to avoid: allow public opinion to influence the judicial process. Roberts has ordered an investigation into the source of the leak.

While many headlines have focused on a potential overturn, “the draft opinion focuses specifically on how justices structured the 1973 majority opinion in Roe,” wrote Sarah Westwood in a Washington Examiner article published Wednesday titled “Sorting Fact from Fiction in Democratic Reactions to Supreme Court leak.” Unless the draft is changed substantially, the decision would push the question of legality back to the states. The question is this: Does the court or the legislature have the purview to make this decision? Democrats have framed this draft opinion as a potential way for the high court to overturn other rulings, such as same-sex marriage.

But the original opinion in Roe by then-Associate Justice Harry Blackmun noted the difference: “The pregnant woman cannot be isolated in her privacy. She carries an embryo and, later, a fetus, if one accepts the medical definitions of the developing young in the human uterus,” he wrote. “The situation therefore is inherently different from marital intimacy, or bedroom possession of obscene material, or marriage, or procreation, or education.”

This view was reinforced in the leaked draft opinion: “Roe’s defenders characterize the abortion right as similar to the rights recognized in past decisions involving matters such as intimate sexual relations, contraception, and marriage,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion, “but abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged, because it destroys what those decisions called ‘fetal life’ and what the law now before us describes as an ‘un-born human being.’”

Casey was the 1992 decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that states could pass laws limiting access to abortion, except in cases where the purpose of those laws was to place “a substantial obstacle” in the way of anyone seeking to abort a nonviable fetus.

Both sides are claiming that they are right, and both sides are accusing the other side of being wrong. The levels of vitriol and hate seem to be increasing and occasionally deafening. What is clear is that there is no love lost on either side for the other.

Those who are adamantly pro-choice believe that women should have control over their bodies. After centuries during which men have often controlled women, it is no wonder that many women want to be able to decide what happens to their bodies. Men who are pro-choice often want to defer to the women. Their stance is understandable.

For those who believe that life begins at conception, abortion is tantamount to killing. Their stance, too, is understandable. Many of those who are anti-abortion and profess to be Christian condemn and apparently hate those on the other side of the issue.

But the core of Christianity is to accept Jesus as your savior, to love God, to worship God and to love others as you love yourself. It does not recommend hating those who disagree with you. My mother was a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia. I do not know what her stance was on the topic of abortion. But I believe that, whatever she may have thought about it, she would love those on the other side and share a laugh with them.

Regardless of your stance on Roe, it would be wonderful if we could discuss it with empathy, love and understanding and leave the judging to God, while sharing a laugh with one another.


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