Responding as The Church to the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

The June 24, 2022, Supreme Court decision overturning the historic Roe-v-Wade abortion-rights ruling is being met with mixed and strong emotions. Pro-life advocates cheered the ruling as a victory for the unborn, while pro-choice advocates opposed the ruling as a serious infringement on women’s right to choose and determine their own future.
As a result of the decision, abortion rights will now be determined by individual states unless Congress passes legislation that then is signed by the President. We can anticipate heightened debates over abortion for weeks and months to come in state legislatures across the United States. This topic will obviously continue to be passionately debated on social media as well.
As United Methodists, we turn to our social principles for our vision of righteousness to social, economic, and political issues. In ¶161k of the Book of Discipline, our General Conference has stated that we, as a church, do not support abortion as a means of birth control and that “Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion” in general. We as a church “mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates,” but we also recognize that situations in a woman’s life beyond her control may justify this procedure under the care of medical professionals.
Our Social Principles go on to say, “we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.”
According to the U.S. Census, more than 10 million women have limited or no access to health care. And approximately 7 million children live in poverty, that’s one in every seven.
As a church, we can respond by...

  • Praying and entrusting God to provide guidance, wisdom, and discernment to those facing an unintended pregnancy.
  • Offering ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies.
  • Providing nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth.
  • Supporting and facilitating adoptions.
  • Advocating for policies and funding that ensure all women and children — especially the poor and vulnerable — have access to food, safe shelter, clothing, childcare, health care, and education.
  • Being grace-filled and caring in our social media comments and in communications with one another.

The topic of abortion is yet another issue that divides our country, but I hope we all can agree on the need to support women and to provide children with everything they need to be nurtured to adulthood with every advantage possible.
To that end, I urge our churches to engage in ministries with women and children that ensure they have the resources and support they need — not just prior to birth and during the birthing process, but after the child is born well into the age of adulthood.
Please join with me to pray that the Lord give wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Proverbs 2:6) to decision makers at the state and federal levels regarding this highly partisan and defining issue.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.

The UMC Council of Bishops also issued a statement on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the 1973 Roe V Wade ruling. In the statement, COB President Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton noted that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a call for the church to rise above the fray to offer words of support and hope amid the emptiness and despair and to advocate for women who are unjustly affected and unfairly harmed.