Tip Sheets

Christian doctrine barely veiled in leaked SCOTUS opinion

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

On Monday evening, a draft opinion was leaked suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Landon Schnabel

Robert and Ann Rosenthal Assistant Professor of Sociology

Landon Schnabel, assistant professor of sociology at Cornell University, is writing a book titled “Is Faith Feminine? What Americans Really Think about Gender and Religion,” which will consider how religion suppresses gender differences in politics, including on the issue of abortion.

Schnabel says:

“The religious right supported Trump and ultimately got what they wanted out of him in his three Supreme Court appointments—Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch—and their efforts to overturn the right to abortion. 

“Although the draft opinion conspicuously leaves out explicit mentions of terms like ‘religion’ and ‘God,’ Christian religion and Catholic theology is the theme tucked away between the lines (six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic and another, Gorsuch, was raised Catholic before becoming a Protestant). 

“The very idea that life starts at conception—which runs throughout the document—is rooted in Christian beliefs about an immortal soul that suggest life starts even before conception. The many appeals to ‘tradition’ in the draft are simply pointing back to old policies rooted in religious beliefs, and the draft even draws directly on a biblical idea but attributes them to tradition such as when it appeals to a ‘13th-century treatise’ written by a Catholic cleric which, (the draft opinion fails to mention) is really just a restating of Exodus 21:22-24.

“Demonstrating the centrality of particular religious beliefs to the arguments against abortion rights, Jews who believe a fetus is part of a woman's body until it attains the status of ‘nefesh’ (or soul) when it takes its first breath are generally supportive of abortion—in fact, Jews are more supportive of abortion than are the religiously unaffiliated. Buddhists, whose beliefs about ideas like an ‘immortal soul’ greatly differ from most Christians, also have similarly high levels of support for abortion. Even conservative Christian religious groups, such as Seventh-day Adventists, who do not believe in an immortal soul, have been more accepting of abortion and their hospitals have provided them when hospitals run by other groups would not.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.