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Evangelicals May Rethink Trump Support after High Court Abortion Ruling

On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law. (Adobe stock)
On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law. (Adobe stock)
June 30, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a surprising setback for abortion opponents, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law on Monday that would have restricted access to abortions in the state. The measure was nearly identical to one the court overturned in Texas in 2016.

The ruling is a defeat for anti-abortion evangelicals - many of whom form an essential part of President Donald Trump's base, according to Matthew Anderson, an evangelical researcher at Baylor University. He said Trump's strategy of appointing conservative justices who appealed to evangelicals is being called into question.

"You have a lot of chatter among conservative evangelicals over whether or not the strategy of voting for Trump in order to get Supreme Court justices to get decisions that we think would be right and just is the right strategy - whether or not the cost of being associated with Trump has been worth it," Anderson said.

In the 2016 case, Texas officials said requirements for admitting privileges for abortion providers were meant to protect women's health and ensure doctors are qualified. But the Supreme Court rejected that argument, saying evidence showed the requirement shut down about half the abortion clinics in Texas with no proof they better protected women's health.

Anderson said white, evangelical Christian support for Trump has been slipping since the president's appearance at the March for Life rally in January. He thinks Trump's handling of the COVID-19 crisis and recent Supreme Court rulings have dampened conservative Christian backing to the point that some evangelicals may decide to sit out the November election.

"Things have really unraveled for Trump in the last three or four months," he said. "And I think that makes the case for staying home much stronger even than it was in 2016. So I'd be very happy if white evangelicals stayed home."

He said he thinks evangelicals' political actions should move away from influencing the courts on abortion or religious liberty. Instead, he said, they should focus more on living out Christian values by supporting other Americans.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - TX