Religion, Women, and The Constitution

Noooooo! The President is backing down to religious pressures.

Yeaaaaa! The First Amendment’s guaranty that government will not interfere with religion is upheld.

Daaaamn! Where do I fall in this continuum of seemingly irreconcilable positions; religious freedom versus women’s reproductive freedom?

I am sure that Friday’s announcement from the White House is finding the two competing factions of this Church-State argument traveling down the same class-4 rapids.

I am sure readers who are the “purists” in the two competing rafts see this as a “winner takes all” proposition, while those still on the shore watching the competition see the hidden dangers lurking under the waters ahead.

One small but dangerous outcropping is the blessing the Constitution gives to those who are of theists as well as a-theists the rights to choose the direction of travel. It says that government is not to interfere in our religious lives.

As important for antithesis is that religion should not interfere with government. The First Amendment is a two-way street, unlike the churning waters contraceptives and birth control have now created.

Roe v. Wade did not say that abortion was legal. It did say that a woman has control over the decision concerning her health, including on whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.

The original suit concerned a law in Texas that made abortions illegal. However, the basis of the action was much more than that.

The court’s decision was, in part, based on “…unpreparedness for parenthood, and impairment of the wife’s health.” The law suit did not concern religious freedom, but the right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1.

The U.S. Supreme’s court decision was made more complicated when one reads the entire decision. In fact, there were two “parties” involved in the Supreme Court action. Jane Roe and Mr. and Mrs. Doe.

Roe’s concerned an active current pregnancy; the Does’ concerning the possible future pregnancy. The Does’ case was dismissed for having no standing (Pp: 410 U. S. 127-129), because there was no “injury.” Roe’s remained.

There is one thing many do not know about this case. The Court said that “…the natural termination of Roe’s pregnancy did not moot her suit.

“Litigation involving pregnancy, which is ‘capable of repetition, yet evading review,’ is an exception to the usual federal rule that an actual controversy must exist at review stages, and not simply when the action is initiated.” (Pp: 410 U. S. 113-114)

Roe never had a medically induced abortion. She had a miscarriage.

According to CBS, the United States and Canada have a combined abortion rate of 17 per 1,000 women; number 12 of 20 subregions. However, where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, the rates soar.

In Eastern Europe (Christian), the rates hover around 45 per 1,000; the Carrabin (Christian), about 40 per 1,000; eastern and middle Africa (Muslim); southeastern Asia (Muslim and Christian) rounds-out the top five with over 35 per 1,000 each. All have strict anti-abortion laws.

In a January 2012 report titled “Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008,” The Lancet, “a major contributor to health and medical media coverage worldwide,” reported that about 50 percent of all abortions worldwide were unsafe, using the World Health organization’s definitions.

They concluded:

The abortion rate was lower in subregions where more women live under liberal abortion laws…  Restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates.

Back to the President versus the Catholic Church and conservative Christians.

The problem does not concern if churches themselves fall under the rule that contraceptives must be made available to women at no out-of-pocket costs. That was clear, they do not.

The problem does concern other institutions and businesses owned by religious organizations whose employment practices do not restrict hiring to one class of persons – those of the same religious beliefs.

The problem concerns those who do not hold the same religious values concerning contraception and pregnancy prevention. It concerns unwanted pregnancies, including those caused by rape. It concerns the health and well being of the mother and future child.

The problem concerns the business aspects of religion organizations, the schools and hospitals that do not restrict hiring or admission based solely on religion. The problem concerns all citizens, not just those of a specific church or ideology.

The problem concerns keeping religion out of government when religion of the individual is not restricted.

The problem is not a secular versus sectarian. The problem is not a “war against religion” problem. The problem is not “women’s rights” versus “religious rights.”

This is a problem of religion trying to influence government in opposition to the Constitution’s mandate otherwise.

The problem is the President backing down to religious pressures.

I stand for the woman’s right to choose contraception instead of abortion.

David Rosman’s newest book, A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs is now available through in paperback or eBook versions.

You can invite David to speak to your group or organization. For more information, please contact him at

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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