Conservative religious colleges are on the verge of victory after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Rowe v. Wade. Although many secular organizations have condemned the decision, conservative religious colleges are celebrating victory over the right to abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a 6-to-3 rule to the Dobs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to restore long-held federally protected rights to an abortion. Some conservative states, including the so-called Trigger Act, have already outlawed abortion, literally changing the rules regarding reproductive health within moments of Friday morning.
But among religious colleges, the response was not uniform. While conservative institutions are celebrating, more moderate or liberal religious colleges have issued neutral statements and some have even condemned the ruling.
In the lap of victory
Liberty University, the Evangelical University of Virginia, founded in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Fowell – shortly before Rowe v. Wade’s decision in 1973 – is one of the few religious universities to have noticed their long-standing opposition to abortion.
“Today, on behalf of Liberty University, I would like to express my gratitude to Almighty God for the landmark decision by the US Supreme Court in the DOBS vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Although it does not effectively end abortion in America, it It’s an important step toward keeping, ”Liberty University President Jerry Prevo said in a statement released Friday. “For nearly 50 years, Liberty University students, faculty and staff have prayed, volunteered and supported the lives of mothers and their unborn children. The Liberty student organization has led the way and marched year after year, praying for Supreme Court action and committing their lives to life-supporting causes. As President of Liberty University, I am proud that we are now officially training the first post-Ro-V-Wade generation of leaders who will be champions for Christ to save the lives of mothers and their unborn children. “
Liberty University has hosted numerous anti-abortion speakers and events over the years; Students live in Washington, D.C. to support Supreme Court nominees who oppose the right to abortion; And withdraws recognition of its Democratic student group because the organization’s position on abortion and other issues conflicts with university doctrine.
Liberty did not respond to requests for comment.
The Franciscan University of Stubbenville, a Catholic institution in Ohio, marked the news in a statement from its president and faculty members celebrating the fall of abortion rights on Friday.
“I am glad that the Supreme Court has overturned Rowe v. Wade, a verdict that has hurt the spirit of our country. Roy never had a solid legal basis, and I’m glad the judges had the courage to correct the error and hit it off. I also know very well that this decision does not mean the end of abortion in our country, and so, those of us who are pro-life, we still have a lot of work to do, continue to help mothers in difficult situations and those who have lost a child through abortion. Father Dave Pivonka, FUS president, said in a statement.
A university spokesman said Higher Ed inside Via email that students formed a pro-life club in 1973, immediately after Rowe v. Wade, which continues to be one of the most active organizations on campus. Over the years students have protested abortion in a number of ways, including prayer vigils and protests, as well as blocking the entrance to abortion clinics. The university is also home to the tomb of the unborn child, where seven fetuses are buried.
“Our statement reflects the Catholic and Franciscan values of the Franciscan University of Stevenville and our deep belief in the sanctity and dignity of all human life,” wrote Lisa Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the Franciscan University.
The Catholic University of America has similarly celebrated the verdict.
“Today, in a case called the Dobs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court officially overturned Rowe v. Wade,” said John Garvey, president of the Catholic University, in a statement. “This landmark decision changed the way we think about abortion in two ways. It rejects the unholy notion that there is a constitutional right to kill unborn children. And it returns to the elected representatives of the people the responsibility of judging the approval of abortion regulations. Some state legislatures have already adopted plans to promote abortion with greater enthusiasm than ever before; Others will greatly limit practice. Our national debate on abortion is not over. They just moved to a different forum. We all have a say now in deciding how to best care for mothers and children. This is a great opportunity and a great challenge. ”
He added that since “unplanned pregnancy is a part of life”, Catholic University “wants to form a working group to find ways to make mothers and babies more welcome.”
Other religious institutions were less direct. Reverend John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, made a seemingly neutral statement.
“As a Catholic university, Notre Dame is committed to the sanctity of all human life, and I have joined others for many years in protecting unborn lives. “I hope that today’s Supreme Court decision, which returns the question of abortion to voters and their elected representatives, will provide an opportunity for thoughtful discussion and respectful dialogue. We must work with those who share our views,” wrote Father Jenkins. And especially with those who don’t, because we examine the deep and complex ethical, legal, and social questions involved. We call for the establishment of policies and programs. “
Asked about the message, a Notre Dame official gave a few details.
“In anticipation of the court’s decision, Father Jenkins wrote his statement after talking to several people. It stems less from an institutional strategy, from a reflection of what our country needs at the moment, ”Dennis Brown, a spokesman for Notre Dame, said via email.
The University of Seattle, a Jesuit institution, has issued a statement that appears to pierce both sides.
“Our community, like American politics as a whole (including the American Catholic community), is made up of people from a broader perspective of yesterday’s decision. Some are celebrating Dobbs as a long-term victory for the protection of vulnerable people, ”wrote Eduardo M. Penalver, president of Seattle University. “Others are mourning the loss of autonomy for those who are experiencing unwanted or unsafe pregnancies or whose rights may be violated by the sweeping opportunity of court reasoning in the coming years. We recognize this diversity of perspectives in the belief that rational and respectful discussion can bring us closer to a truth that respects the dignity of each individual. “
A spokesman did not provide additional information on the location of Seattle University.
A rare condemnation
Emery University, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Georgia, where abortion may soon be banned, issued a statement disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision, a rare move among religious colleges. Emory’s response is closer to the comments of public peer organizations than religious colleges.
A statement from Emory President Gregory L. Fenves called the ruling “a painful regression.” Fenves also warned of the challenges ahead, including Emory’s obstetrics program.
“The Supreme Court ruling will affect the law of many states, including Georgia,” he wrote. “As a university and as an employer, Emory is likely to face new limits in reproductive health care coverage that we can offer to our students, faculty and staff. We are working closely with partner organizations across the state to review and adapt to these changes. We are also collaborating with national associations to ensure that healthcare students, residents, fellows and providers can continue training and practicing world-class obstetrics at Emery. “
A spokesman for Emery declined to elaborate on the university’s statement.
College, like business, has anxious brands. And how colleges communicate this Supreme Court decision – among other things – indicates how valuable they are as an institution. Messages are designed for their components: employees, alumni and current and potential students. For some religious colleges, their statements about Dobbs’ decision may easily be linked to the values they have long supported. Others hit more subtle tunes, trying to please different constituencies.
Erin Hennessy, a vice president at TVP Communications, noted that religious institutions are not exclusive, nor are the elements they serve. For example, some religious colleges may have to consider both conservative, older alumni, and younger, more liberal students.
“Since colleges and universities are ro and [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey, they will lean towards their knowledge of their mission, their relationship with their religious organization and what their students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors expect from them, ”Hennessy wrote. Higher Ed inside Via email. “It will be a difficult balancing act, and I hope we will see that many religiously authorized institutions will act cautiously here as we will see those who strike a tune of full celebration.”