When news of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade broke the morning of June 24, pro-life Americans could say something profound: Their federal government no longer endorses a “right” that since 1973 has taken the lives of more than 63 million unborn human beings.
The legality of abortion is now with the states, where it stood prior to Roe, and where state legislators, armed with much better knowledge of fetal development than in 1973, will decide to regulate it or ban it.
“The United States Supreme Court just announced one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime—officially voting to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision because it was ‘egregiously wrong from the start,’ as stated by Justice Samuel Alito,” Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook after the ruling was announced.
In a prayer alert to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association supporters later that day, Franklin wrote: “While the ruling is an answer to decades of prayer—and we praise God for what He is doing—the battle to protect innocent lives is far from over. As the issue now shifts to the state level, will you join me today in praying for America?”
Franklin called on supporters to pray specifically for the protection of the high court’s justices and pro-life organizations from violent protests, for states as they weigh laws to protect unborn children, and courage for Christians “to remain faithful to His Word in all areas of life, no matter what our culture says.”
“Thank you for your heart for the Lord and for His truth. ‘Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love’” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NKJV).
According to varied sources, at least 21 states either have bans in place or will be implementing tighter restrictions on abortion soon. In early July, such bans in Arizona, Louisiana, Kentucky and Utah had been temporarily blocked as abortion rights groups scurried to file lawsuits. Another nine states, according to the New York Times, allow abortion but are expected to see it debated soon. Meanwhile, the 20 remaining states, mostly in the West and Northeast, have enacted laws that explicitly protect or expand abortion rights. Seven of those states and Washington, D.C., allow abortion up until birth.
“This is a tremendous day for our country,” said noted Christian psychologist and author James Dobson, who has been a leader in the pro-life movement since the 1970s. “But the battle is not over. The court has taken the issue of abortion and returned it to the states. The people of each state will now have the opportunity to debate and to try to persuade their fellow citizens.”
A Worthy Test Case
Five conservative justices found cause to test the merits of Roe in the questions posed by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case before the high court last session involving Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation.
On the question of Mississippi’s law, a 6-3 majority that included the five core conservative justices plus Chief Justice John Roberts, who has positioned himself as a centrist conservative on the court, concurred that Mississippi’s law should stand.
But Roberts stopped short of concurring with fellow conservatives to overturn Roe and a related 1992 case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. The majority opinion, written by Alito, was joined in full by justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
At several points, Alito referenced Justice Byron White’s dissent in 1973 that Roe was “an exercise of raw judicial power.”
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
He added, “A right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”
Kavanaugh, who along with Coney Barrett and Gorsuch was nominated to the high court by President Trump—creating a 6-3 conservative majority after the retirement of Anthony Kennedy and the deaths of Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—noted the decision does not outlaw abortion in America.
“On the contrary,” Kavanaugh wrote, “the Court’s decision properly leaves the question of abortion for the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.”
Meanwhile, the court’s liberal bloc—the retiring Stephen Breyer, joined by Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—offered a scathing rebuke to their conservative colleagues, complaining that the ruling sets aside the role of court precedent, threatens other rulings of social and moral significance and “diminishes women’s opportunities to participate fully and equally in the Nation’s political, social, and economic life.”
“The abortion right is also embedded in the lives of women—shaping their expectations, influencing their choices about relationships and work, supporting (as all reproductive rights do) their social and economic equality,” the dissent stated.
President Biden responded to the ruling by vowing to make contraceptives and the abortion drug mifepristone more accessible, claiming mifepristone is used to “safely end early pregnancies.”
“This is a sad day for the country, in my view, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over,” Biden said.
The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life research organization, quickly disputed Biden’s claims.
“The rate of abortion pill-related emergency room visits increased over 500% from 2002 through 2015,” the institute said in a statement.
“The safety of the abortion pill is greatly exaggerated, helped along by the FDA’s 2016 decision to only require reports of abortion pill-related deaths, which skews their data,” said Charlotte Lozier Institute’s Dr. Jim Studnicki, vice president and director of data analytics. “Hemorrhage? Need for follow-up surgery? Infection? Near-death experience? No need to tell the FDA, which then allows President Biden to claim the pills are safe.”
‘A Fight for Human Dignity’
Pro-life advocate Alveda King, niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr., responded after the ruling that “For 49 years, ‘we the people’ have had to endure a flawed and unconstitutional ruling from the Supreme Court that allowed unelected judges to create a national right to abortion, which ultimately led to extreme actions, like late-term abortions, against the unborn. … I have longed for and prayed for this day. And I will continue to fight for human dignity for everyone—from the womb to the tomb” (see Q&A on page 8).
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson of Prolove Ministries said the ruling is a repudiation of the notion, essentially argued in the court’s dissent, that “women need abortion to achieve their dreams.”
“This is a decision that pro-lifers have long awaited, and I am so humbled to have been a part of that fight for the last 13 years since walking away from Planned Parenthood. … The recovery room in abortion clinics is quite possibly the saddest place on Earth. [And] women don’t deserve that.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the conservative Christian law firm that helped defend the Mississippi law, said in a statement following the ruling that the U.S. has been an extreme outlier in how liberal its abortion laws were, even allowing late-term abortions when most of the world bans it much earlier.
“Specifically, the U.S. has been one of only six nations—including China and North Korea—that allows abortion-on-demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and one of only eight countries in the world that allows elective abortion past 20 weeks.” ADF says 75% of nations forbid abortion after 12 weeks’ gestation.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is a major victory for unborn children and their mothers,” said ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner.
Cultivating a Culture of Life
Kim Lewis, the executive director of the pro-life pregnancy resource center (PRC) Bartow Family Resources in Centerville, Georgia, told Decision that when the news of the Alito opinion that would overturn Roe was leaked to the press in May, she and her colleagues were “ecstatic” at the possibility.
“Are our centers ready for what this means and could mean to the work that we do?” she asked at the time.
That’s a question many pregnancy resource ministries have been getting ready to answer over the last year, as talk of Roe’s demise became more prominent.
While threats and violence against pro-life organizations have risen in some places across the nation, the resolve of these organizations like Bartow Family Resources seems to have risen as well.
In Texas, for example, Texans for Life Coalition announced that pro-life organizations aim to increase the number of the state’s 200 pregnancy resource centers to around 300 and “to identify and eliminate any gaps in care.”
PRCs like Bartow are lifelines for women who are pregnant and unsure if they want to carry their baby to term or have an abortion. To help women choose life, these centers provide spiritual guidance, mentoring, parenting classes, ultrasounds and other resources to make it easier for women to choose life and give them a strong parenting foundation.
As Greg Scott, ADF’s senior vice president of communications, said on Twitter: “Planned Parenthood provides neither prenatal care nor free diapers, formula, nor anything else after babies are born. PP exists to groom abortion customers. Pregnancy centers do all the things for mothers & babies that Big Abortion doesn’t, for free. Who is pro-woman?”
These life-saving centers far outnumber abortion clinics, and will be busier than ever as more women likely seek out their care.
But overturning Roe doesn’t end abortion. A culture of life doesn’t begin with policy or court decisions alone. Ultimately, the hearts and minds of people across the country must face a fundamental truth in Scripture—that “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27).
“Today, we pause to celebrate this great victory and thank our God,” said Texans for Life Coalition President Kyleen Wright. “Tomorrow we press on toward our goal of making abortion unthinkable and ensuring every mother and baby has everything necessary to be all they were created to be. This will be the church’s finest hour.”
Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP Getty Images