Having spent 10 years as a Catholic monk, I may have a unique perspective on the U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Following up on my recent article, here I look at possible causes for such a cruel decision. My conclusion is that the judges who favored this decision are trapped by a commitment to the concept of “the sacred book” or “sacred text” rather than to simply make decisions that are kind.
The repeal was passed by a court consisting of six Catholics, two Protestants and one Jew. The imbalance of Catholics, especially conservative Catholics, is not an accident. It was part of the Republican plan to stack the court with judges who would be likely to repeal that law. The purpose is to get more conservative Republicans voted into office. It may be that this tactic ends up doing just the opposite.
Many religions are based on the concept of “reverence for the book”. Muslims call themselves “people of the book,” the Koran. Christians and Jews revere the Bible.
Since “the book” is “sacred,” many believe that every word in it is literally true. Many have never read these books, nor confronted the parts in them that specifically contradict other parts. Some especially favor the passage from Paul: “Women, be subject to your husbands,” a remnant of male dominance over the eons.
I suspect that this concept of “sacred text” is a model for the “strict constructionist” judges of the Supreme Court as well. These are the judges who limit their interpretation of the law to the exact wording of the law, the Constitution. Many of the Supreme Court judges seem to be advocates of both texts — the Bible and the Constitution. However, just because someone says a document, or a book, or a pope is infallible, it doesn’t mean they are.
The Constitution is a great document. It is not infallible. It can’t say everything all at once, and it can’t predict the future. The current judges seem to have forgotten that besides the right to life, it gives us the right to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness as well. They imply, “We’re not looking at those words right now.”
Many tragic consequences will happen to women because of the repeal of the case law in Roe v. Wade, and to men who will be forced to be fathers as well. However, there is one consequence I haven’t read much about, and it may be the worst of all.
This decision will put many unwanted and uncared-for children in the world.
The court, I presume, wants parents to pretend to love a child who is unwanted. Unwanted children intuitively understand that. Unwanted children also raise unwanted children. It makes me wonder if any of those judges were unwanted children.
Beyond that, it isn’t really the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence that gives us these rights. I have a right to my life, liberty and happiness whether the Constitution or Declaration of Independence says so or not.
I think the writers understood that, and that’s why Thomas Jefferson used the words “self-evident” to describe these truths in the declaration.
To paraphrase what I believe Jefferson and others meant: “Trust your intuitive self as to what is right and good and kind. We are not gods. We can’t read into the future. We trust you to do the right thing, the kind thing. That’s why we are inventing judges and a Supreme Court. They should be wise men (they weren’t enlightened enough then to use the word ‘people’) who will look into their hearts and ask what is best – what is kindest for people.”
We need individuals who can take the responsibility to decide what kindness calls for here and now. I can’t believe that those who are slavish to texts and make decisions that are hurtful to so many people really understand the texts.
The court decision is based on the premise that life begins at conception. That is not true. A sperm and an egg are living things; they are not dead things. If they are living things, shouldn’t we be required to protect the life of every sperm and egg? Should we demand that every egg be fertilized? Should we fine a man for each of his sperms that doesn’t fertilize an egg?
Judges, stop blaming texts, whether 200 or 2000 years old, for your decision on what human kindness calls for. If you don’t believe that is the overriding principle to judge by, why are you even on the court?