What Happened to the Separation of Church and State?

July 19, 2022 By Beatriz

What Happened to the Separation of Church and State?

On July 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States of America overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 case that declared the constitutional right to an abortion within an American’s right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment. President Trump’s decision to appoint three Supreme Court justices, all of whom were raised Catholic, undeniably played a large role in this ruling, yet one of America’s most salient values is the importance of separating church and state. These justices’ decision to implement their personal religious views on a federal case doesn’t just fly in the face of our country’s core principles but is also a decision that will now negatively affect millions of Americans.

America is not a Christian country, and Americans should not be legally held to those religious beliefs. For example, in Judaism, abortion is permitted, especially when the pregnant person’s health or well-being is at stake. The fetus is regarded as a part of the pregnant person until childbirth, and Jewish law prioritizes the needs and well-being of the mother above all else. In Judaism, life does not begin at conception, but rather at birth. Criminalizing abortion restricts Jewish religious freedom in America, and many American Jews have protested the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The court’s ideologies, as well as its decision on this particular case, also do not reflect the identities and beliefs of the American people. According to the Pew Research Center, around 61% of American citizens agree that abortion should be legal. While 63% of Americans identify as Christian, that’s a number that’s been steadily declining.

As a result of this ruling, other cases established under the constitutional right to privacy could come under attack by the Supreme Court — and could further enforce restrictions that many Americans disagree with. Justice Clarence Thomas announced that he believes cases granting access to contraceptives and gay marriage should be revisited by the court. These all may have been established under the right to privacy, but it’s no coincidence that the churches to which a number of Supreme Court justices belong uphold the ideas that abortion is murder, being a homosexual is a sin, and using contraceptives will send you to hell.

The Supreme Court’s ruling now allows each state to decide whether abortion is permitted or not and in many states, abortion already is or will likely soon be banned or heavily regulated. Our country is supposedly the “land of the free” and yet women’s choices about their reproductive health and autonomy are being forced by a government that is in turn influenced by certain religions. The court has failed to separate religion from law, and the consequences will affect millions of Americans. If a Supreme Court justice’s religious beliefs prohibit them from having an abortion, then that certainly is their choice, but we live in a country where that choice was never meant to be imposed on all.

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