Statement from Bishops Gates and Harris on Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade reversal

Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts have issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court's June 24, 2022, decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling effectively overturning the constitutional right to abortion that has been recognized in this country since 1973 in the case of Roe v. Wade.

Your bishops stand with the long-held position of The Episcopal Church, that "equitable access to women's health care, including women's reproductive health care, is an integral part of a woman's struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being." [General Convention Resolution 2018-D032] Although abortion remains legal here in Massachusetts, and Governor Baker's executive order of today provides additional protections for reproductive health care providers serving out-of-state residents, we recognize that for many the consequences of today's decision will be to codify unequal access to reproductive health care, exacting the heaviest burden on low-income communities and communities of color.

Our church recognizes the complex, delicate, and deeply personal moral decision making that surrounds the issue of abortion. In numerous articulations of its position, the church has stated that "we emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience." [1994-A054] However, the church has also declared its "unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state, or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision...or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision." [2018-D032]

We affirm that, as is typical of an Anglican approach to ethical decision making, our church holds that governments "must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored as the position of this church." [1994-A054]

We commend to you Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s message to the church today. With him we urge Episcopalians to pray for all those who will be harmed by this decision. We urge all, according to their own convictions, to support those organizations committed to just and equitable access to health care for all. And we urge Episcopalians to make their own voice heard according to the dictates of their own conscience, abiding in passion, compassion, and peace.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris

Find a summary of The Episcopal Church's General Convention resolutions on abortion and women's reproductive rights here.