The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that expanded abortion rights for women is a landmark case in the history of American politics. APU hosted several events last week that allowed students, faculty and anyone else to discuss the important issues and to contemplate the effects the case has had on the U.S. Political science professor and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Jennifer Walsh organized the series of discussions to dialogue about the issues surrounding Roe v. Wade from all angles.
“It was kind of a spontaneous planning, if you will. It kind of came together last minute,” Walsh said, “But it reflected a desire to acknowledge and do what we do best as a university which is to discuss, deliberate, contemplate and reflect.”
Walsh, who also organized the series of events following the presidential election in the fall, teaches Constitutional law and American government. She believes that Christians should recognize issues such as abortion as well as the government’s decisions and reactions to issues that arise in cases like Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision because it clearly revealed the division between the thinking of the church and the thinking of the state, Walsh said.
“It’s not any longer just about abortion. It’s about stem-cell research and euthanasia and the right to privacy in a variety of contexts. It’s also significant because for the first time you see Christians being called back into the public square,” Walsh said.
In addition to the three discussions held throughout the week, Walsh also worked together with the Campus Pastors office to organize the prayer session that was held on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at noon. They wanted the prayer session to be more reflective and integrative as well as active.
“This is such an important topic and conversation that just to have conversation, just to have dialogue seems to be a real miss,” campus pastor James ‘Woody’ Morwood said, “So when we heard the academic side was going to offering all those other things, we wanted to provide a space and opportunity where people could simply come and ask God to give us wisdom and discernment with how we navigate this in our culture.”
The prayer gathering was led by five of the campus pastors who led the participants through different prayers and encouraged the group to spend time praying individually.
“There were representatives of various offices and entities on campus. It wasn’t just one sect, there were representatives from Student Life, from the Counseling Center, professors, Women’s Resource Center, campus pastors,” said campus pastor Khristi Adams, “It was just a little bit of everyone and it was great that we were all in one circle and no matter what our position was on the issue.”
The campus pastors highlighted Luke 10:27, asking God how we can truly love our neighbors as ourselves.
“We also prayed for the policy and political side of it as well,” Woody said, “In the Campus Pastors office we are usually dealing with students who are in the ‘what do I do now?’ moment and that is what we wanted to pray for, that God would give us wisdom on this campus and wisdom for all Christians to navigate that.”
The three lectures and discussions organized by Walsh focused on three important aspects of the decision of Roe v. Wade. On Wednesday, professor of Biblical Studies and Associate Dean for the Division of Religion and Philosophy in the School of Theology Kenneth Waters discussed the theological and ethical issues surrounding Roe v. Wade. On Thursday, history professor Edmund Mazza discussed historical impact of Roe v. Wade while Walsh discussed the cultural impact the decision has had on our society and our politics.
Political science professor and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science Daniel Palm and political science professor Abbylin Sellers wrapped up the series of events on Friday by discussing the political and constitutional significance of Roe v. Wade.
“Christians have had a variety of viewpoints on things like this,” Palm said, “It’s a perfect opportunity for us as a Christian community to come together and to think what this means. What this means about life, what it means about rights, and the very big political question which I think all politics surrounds: What is a human being? What are we ultimately?”