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The Leak: A Spin of Bishop’s Roulette?

guest post

— Guest Post by MJ Lisbeth

A few days ago, I wrote “Bishop’s Roulette.” Since then, the draft of Supreme Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on striking down Roe v. Wade has been leaked. 

To many — actually, the majority — of us, the “leak” was like the first bomb dropped in an attack that “everybody knew” was coming. The particular blow surprised us simply because, like the first shot of a war, nobody can anticipate the moment it comes, even if its aftermath is what everyone expects.

As I am neither a political scientist nor reporter, I can’t add much to the analysis that the end of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be the “will of the people.” More than one poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of people support the right to safe and legal abortion. That we now have a Supreme Court “packed” with Justices who seek to do the opposite of what most Americans want is a result of a political system that has allowed vocal, virulent, and often violent groups of people who claim to be motivated by faith to gain majorities in state legislatures and governorships — and may usher them into a Congressional majority later this year.

The same folks who organized to elect lawmakers who enacted laws outlawing abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and deputized citizens to sue anyone who received, performed, or “enabled” a procedure also voted for Donald Trump, who promised exactly what’s come to pass, and may regain the Presidency in two years.

While some of those voters didn’t disguise the fact that their support of Trump and his political allies was borne from their hatred of liberals, gays, immigrants, and anyone else whom they don’t see as fitting into their notions of a White, Christian, and male-dominated nation, others couch their support in a system of faith that, they believe, tells them to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Some, mainly men, among them claim to “respect women” because they are mothers, nurturers, and partners.

If they actually “respect” women, how can they support a President, Supreme Court justices, governors, state legislators, and mayors who are doing everything they can to ensure that women (and girls) don’t get vital medical care at the exact moment they need it.

You see, in striking down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court would leave abortion rights to the states.  Some had already all but outlawed abortion before Justice Alito wrote his opinion; others have enacted “trigger laws” that will do the same, or ban it outright, once Roe v. Wade is struck down.  It’s hard not to believe, as some legal and political analysts have pointed out, that such moves will also enable states to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act and enact their own rules on the availability of health care. 

Think about it:  If a state can tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, can it also decide who does or doesn’t get health care, or what is or isn’t “appropriate” care for someone? Could it make such decisions on who is more “deserving” in a hierarchy that places people who are most likely to make “nuclear” families (i.e., straight cisgender) above, say, LGBTQ people? Or native-born citizens above immigrants, especially those who are here illegally? 

 I also can’t help but wonder whether striking down Roe v. Wade will give states more power to decide how health care and insurance are meted out. Given that concentrating power in fewer hands, especially if those hands are affluent White Christian cisgender males or their allies, all but inevitably leads to “privatization”— which often means nothing more than “getting government out of it” — it’s not hard to imagine more states in which people who need help are subject to a “Bishop’s Roulette.”

Now, even if you object to abortion on religious or other moral grounds, or simply think that the women who need them should have been “more careful,” here is something else to consider: prenatal care, and women’s healthcare in general, while far from perfect, have improved since Roe v. Wade. Some of that, of course, has come about because of medical and technological developments. Just as important, though, is the change in the way pregnancy and women’s bodies are seen. For one, doctors and other providers now better understand how pregnancy changes a woman’s body. Some of those changes, like high blood pressure, were previously linked to women’s pre-pregnancy lives and were not seen as consequences of pregnancy itself. Those conditions, and sometimes the pregnancy itself, can degrade the quality of, or even end, a woman’s life. 

Another reason, I believe, women’s health care has improved since Roe v. Wade is that as women gained more agency over their bodies and lives, they were seen — at least by some — as worthy of care for their own sake, and not simply to enhance their ability to bear and rear children. That development goes hand-in-hand with the separation of health care (and government) from religion, especially of the fundamentalist variety. 

In brief, Roe v. Wade did more to foster the respect for women than religious and other opponents of the decision claim to have.  Repealing it, as Justice Samuel Alito’s draft threatens, will do much to destroy that respect by degrading the quality of women’s health care and subjecting too many of us to some version of a “Bishop’s Roulette” to obtain it.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Jerry Bernard

    Abortion is homicide unless…

    If the presence of a Fetus is threating to the pregnant woman’s life, then abortion is not homicide, it is self defense.

    You’ve murdered the visitor unless the visitor came in the door to kill you. 

    The pregnant woman has the freedom of choice to be a murderer or  not.  Freedom of choice does not release her from the penalty of the law. 

    Any doctor that assisted in the homicide/abortion must also receive the same law’s punishment.  This feminist ‘freedom’ didn’t really arrive at its sad, frenetic decline until the birth control pill hit the scene. Contraception and its evil twin, abortion, paved the way for an irrelevant, ungrounded, self-absorbed, empty, mournful existence. So much pain. God’s Word, His people, and the precious family are places of true joy and experience that has value that lasts. Even the barren are set in families and find a place to ‘give and receive’ if we trust Him.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser


      Your sanctimonious diatribe only works if you grant the premise that a fertilized egg is a person. It’s not. End of discussion.

      I find it interesting that you are a zygote worshipper who opposes abortion, yet you also oppose the single best way to lower abortion rates: contraception.

      “God’s Word, his people, and the precious family are “places of true joy and experiences that has value that lasts”? You are kidding, right? Surely, you are familiar with what goes on in Evangelical churches in the name of God? I have thousands of readers who will educate you about the harm caused by the Bible, preachers, churches, and “loving” Christian family. Further, you might want to check out the Black Collar Crime series on this site.

    • Avatar

      Jerry, a woman’s body is sovereign territory. Her rules… rule.

      As for “God’s Word,” have you actually read the Bible? Sorry bugger can’t stop himself from killing everything in sight.

    • Avatar

      “God’s precious family”? This is written by someone who seems to have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy. How interesting that conservative Christian churches (Catholic and evangelical Protestant) that take the strongest stance against abortion are the same ones that have massive problems with child molestation and rape. The two are related. And how did this guy miss that readily available contraception is one of the best ways to reduce the abortion rate?

  2. Avatar
    dale m.

    Those pushing for the downfall of Roe are saying it’s far more democratic, State by State. That’s what they used to believe about slavery and women’s Rights. Got to give Republicans’ credit. They know how to push back. All the way back to the 1800s. “Make The Colonies Great Again !” You would have to move State to State every time someone turned over a law. Don’t they understand that this simply puts more stress on vulnerable Americans ?!? Of course they do. They just don’t care.

    Now supposing …. just supposing that these were Democratic judges and they decided to pull the First Amendment (protecting religious Rights) down and then use the same excuse that they weren’t really outlawing religion but leaving it up to the individual States to decide whether or not religion would be considered organized crime or not. The howls would begin! Nut these are amendments. They can be changed. There are some States that are almost all secular and don’t like to be impinged upon. A little extreme ? Maybe. But Republicans will always set the precedent. If you don;t like it ?!? MOVE !!!

    It’s called fighting fire with fire. As Churchill once quipped “Nations that fight for their freedoms and are finally conquered, will rise up once again. Those that simply surrender, disappear forever, never to return.” It goes both ways.

  3. Avatar

    Y’know, Reviled Dumpster Fire, not even an influx of dragons can save your sorry little fable. You really have lost the plot. 😀

  4. Avatar

    MJ, well said as always. Anti-choice men who claim to respect women in fact only respect THEIR idea of what women are to be, not what we really are as autonomous human beings with agency over our own lives. They respect us if we remain under the auspices of their patriarchy. They don’t respect you or me because neither of us falls into that category.

  5. Avatar

    Anti-choice people are not trying to stop all abortions. They are trying to legislate who can and cannot get abortions. Because conservative politicians – their wives and daughters and mistresses – are always going to be able to get an abortion somewhere. All criminalizing abortion will do is keep people trapped in poverty for generations. That’s the goal. And if it wasn’t the goal, they would spend their time and money on comprehensive sex education, free birth control, and free contraception. And here’s a fun fact: The Christian Right latched onto the issue of abortion to increase their power after the racial segregation they had once promoted lost its political potency.

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Bruce Gerencser