Local faith leaders respond to Roe v. Wade reversal by SCOTUS

·3 min read

Jun. 25—Local faith leaders responded Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The 1973 decision which enshrined a constitutional right to abortion was reversed by the high court's conservative majority in a 6-3 vote.

Rev. Dr. Sammie J. Dow, the senior pastor at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, was disappointed by the ruling.

"I stand firmly on the side of women and their freedom to make the critically important decisions regarding their lives, their health, and their bodies," Dow said. "We live in a world of diverse systems of faith and belief. We cannot determine the public policy of a nation based on the faith of one demographic of the country; that very notion is a contradiction to the stated purposes and reasons for America's founding. Whatever choice a woman makes regarding her health, comprehensively, is between that woman, her God, and her doctors. America must prioritize reproductive justice and access to quality, affordable healthcare over the opinions of those who seek to create a narrow and discriminatory definition of American liberties."

Dr. Michael Lewis, the lead pastor at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, celebrated the decision on social media.

"We have prayed for THIS DAY for many years and God has heard our cry to END THE LEGALIZATION of the tragic and barbaric practice of killing human life in the womb. Now it is time for the church to be the church and extend care and compassion for the most vulnerable," Lewis wrote on Instagram.

"At Roswell Street Baptist Church, we maintain a culture of life, upholding the sanctity of human life from the womb to the tomb," Lewis added in an email to the MDJ. "We have a very strong presence for life through our Pregnancy Care Center located on our campus which supports hundreds of families each year."

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz of Temple Kol Emeth in east Cobb expressed his disappointment.

"I think it's a mistake," Sernovitz said. "Judaism across the board agrees that abortion is permitted. The woman's body comes first, especially her physical and mental health."

Sernovitz said practicality needs to win out over emotions in the abortion debate.

"I don't believe, and I'm sure many others don't believe people are pro-abortion," Sernovitz said. "It's about being pro- a woman's right to choose what happens to her body."

Reached for comment, the Catholic Church of St. Ann in east Cobb referred to a statement published in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta's newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin, where Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer praised the court's decision.

"We rejoice today that the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health will uphold some protection for unborn babies, their vulnerable mothers and fathers and the communities where abortion tears families apart, however, there is still work to be done," reads part of Hartmayer's statement. "I applaud today's ruling and urge further action to promote pro-life causes."

Rev. Joe Evans, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Marietta, shared his thoughts on the ruling with the MDJ.

"In some ways, I am as 'pro-life' as they come," he began. "I am against the murder of children in schools and can't understand why the country hasn't unified to protect so many children who are born already."

Evans explained his fear that the court's decision "will usher in a new age of desperate women denied safe options. To me, the lives of those women are sacred, too."

Sam Matthews, the retired senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Marietta, told the MDJ, "I stand with my United Methodist Church as stated in our Book of Discipline (paraphrased): 'We believe in the sanctity of human life as well as the well-being of mother and child. Tragic conflicts may justify abortion which we support under proper medical care. Abortion is not an acceptable method of birth control, gender selection, or eugenics.' It's an extremely difficult call and we are going to have to live peacefully with our differences."