Vicksburg area ministers give thoughts on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

It’s an issue that will be debated and questioned for many years to come: the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruled the Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and a similar decision in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that women had a constitutional right to abortion.

In Dobbs, the court ruled the opposite, saying, “Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion.

Roe and Casey arrogated that authority,” the ruling continued. “We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

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The ruling clears the way for many states to enact laws that restrict or ban abortions.

Locally, some area pastors offered their opinions on the Dobbs decision.

“I’m glad it was overturned because I believe unborn life should be protected,” said Dr. Matt Buckles, pastor of First Baptist Church, who was giving his personal opinion.

“I’m very strongly pro-life, which means babies (are living) in the womb, and I very much believe that fetus is a baby; it’s a life that needs to be protected,” he said. “It hurts my heart that so many people are demanding abortions.”

Buckle also said he believes the No. 1 reason for abortion in the U.S. “is sexual immorality. It’s not the life of the mother, not incest or rape; it’s a way out for sexual immorality and unwanted pregnancies that ties back into my stance on life, both unborn and born life.

“There are some heart-breaking cases where we have rape and incest but I believe from what I’ve read they’re rare; they happen but they’re rare and I wish I had an easy answer for that but in a general way, we need to protect life,” Buckles added. “I’m not being mean or ugly to women, I’m just believing what God has created in the womb past the birth stage should be protected.”

Buckles said five of his six grandchildren were born prematurely, adding there were triplets born at 27 weeks and four days, his second grandson was born at 30 weeks and his first grandson was born at 36 weeks.

“Many laws across the nation would have allowed for ending their life in the womb, and I can’t see that,” he said. “It’s a very strong conviction I have and I believe a strong conviction that members of First Baptist have. I know it’s a deeply troubling issue for our country, but for me personally, I’m just a believer in life from the unborn all the way to the end of life.”

Bishop Joseph Kopacz, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, and Bishop Louis F. Kihneman, bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, issued a joint statement on the Dobbs decision.

“Today, Lady Justice has turned her attention to the cry of the unborn child hidden in the refuge of his or her mother’s womb. Today, justice has not abandoned that unborn child and his or her capacity to feel pain, but there is still more work to be done,” the statement said.

“Together with many throughout our country, we join in prayer that states are now able to protect women and children from the injustice of abortion. The Catholic Church has had a vested interest in this matter — the dignity and sanctity of all human life.”

The bishops said the church has a long history of service to those who are most vulnerable and remains the largest private provider of social services in the United States, and through its charity agencies and the independent efforts of its members, the Catholic Church is supporting all women in addition to the child in the womb.

“The church will continue to accompany women and couples who are facing difficult or unexpected pregnancies and during the early years of parenthood, through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need,” according to the statement, and the bishops renewed their commitment to preserving the dignity and sanctity of all human life.

“Regardless of what federal laws and state laws regarding abortion may be, the role of the church doesn’t change and that’s our goal — to offer the gospel of love and forgiveness to all and that’s a love that calls us to unity,” said the Rev. Kevin Bradley, pastor of Crawford Street United Methodist Church.

Bradley also deferred to the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline, which explains the church’s policy on abortion.

According to the book, “The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.

“But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.”

According to the Book of Discipline, the church recognizes tragic conflicts of life-with-life that may justify abortion, “And in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.

“We support parental, guardian or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics.

“We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers.

“Before providing their services, abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.

“We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion. We entrust God to provide guidance, wisdom and discernment to those facing an unintended pregnancy.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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