I am pro-life. I have always been. Those of us who feel this way received good news today. It wasn’t a surprise because of the leaked documents from earlier this year. In a case referred to as ‘Dobbs v. Jackson’ the Supreme Court of the United States reversed itself and declared that a woman does not have a constitutional right to an abortion.
Let me respond to this decision with three observations and a bonus. The first is what it seems to mean, the second is how a Christ-follower should respond, and the third is, as usual for Greenbean, some predictions. I finish with some bonus commentary.
What It Means
It might be better to think of what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean abortion is illegal in the United States. It also doesn’t mean the United States has decided unborn life is worth saving or we have decided life does indeed begin at conception. Instead, this decision means each individual state can make its own laws about abortion, including to restrict it altogether. My state, Texas, has a trigger law that goes into effect thirty days from today making abortion illegal anywhere for any reason. But the law does not prohibit someone in Texas from traveling to California or New York or Michigan to get an abortion.
It also does nothing to restrict, as I understand it, medication that induces an abortion. Over half of all abortions are medically induced, so that is a huge number.
How Christ-Followers Respond
As a pro-life Christ follower it is perfectly normal for me to feel happy, joyful, hopeful, and even relieved at today’s decision. There is nothing wrong with that. However, it would be a sin to gloat and to over-celebrate the moment. This is good news, but it is not the battle we’ve actually been fighting.
Remember this, anything the government gives, it can also take away. It is wrong to put all of our hopes in the decision of nine people wearing black robes. I have believed and taught for years that the abortion battle is taking place in the hearts and minds of people. This decision, I think, will not really decrease abortions in America, which are right around a million a year. It will instead change the geography and mechanisms of it. Those who want to abort will still find a way.
We have been winning this battle slowly over the last twenty years as people have changed their view of children and what it means. Let’s keep at it through prayer, pastoral care, and spiritual awareness of what is going on in peoples lives. As an addendum to this, we must remember there are women in our congregations who have had abortions — some of them feel guilt, but others feel like it was their right to choose. We must be cautious to not alienate those who might love into a better way of understanding things.
Dobbs is a gift to the Democrats, not the Republicans. This decision, combined with the ongoing January 6 hearings, will continue to motivate Democrats to vote in droves in the midterms. Usually the party in power loses the midterms, but that is in jeopardy now. I think the Dems may well hold both houses for another two years.
A related issue here is that I expect, and expect soon, legislation from the House to codify abortion into law. This is something many people don’t understand, I think. The Supreme Court was always ruling out with Roe v Wade on very suspect grounds to begin with. All it would take is a law.
You say, but the Senate filibuster will keep that from happening. I say, this issue is probably one, perhaps the only one, that could lead Democrats to temporarily suspend the filibuster, join with moderate republicans, and pass an abortion bill making it legal in all fifty states in the exact same way every other federal law happens.
If this happens, the end result might be worse than the beginning. Here is what I mean: as it stands states like Texas and Missouri and Mississippi have been free to restrict abortion as they see fit because the Supreme Court has been in the driver’s seat. If Congress acts, and President Biden will certainly sign it, then all fifty states will have the exact same laws without wiggle room to restrict. The end, then, could be even looser overall abortion regulations, thus finishing worse off than at the beginning.
I am pro-life, and I like my judges conservative. (For the record — I have always said the perfect system would have conservative judges, liberal legislatures, and a competent executive branch.) So this is good news for me. However, the ends do not, I think, justify the means. The price paid to get this ruling is that some justices — Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — lied in their confirmation hearings. There will be a payday for that. The court might be in jeopardy. I am against a court packing mechanism, but the political nihilism that has taken place to get this overturning of abortion rights will bring those of other persuasions howling for ‘reform.’
Pro-life means more than just being pro-babies. I am very pro-baby. But I am also against the death penalty, in favor of less capitalism in our medical practices, against euthanasia, and really would like to end our fixation on guns and weapons. As such, I appeal to my sisters and brothers in Christ to care for babies after they’ve been born as much as you do before. We can do a better job of making our world safer, healthier, and better for all of our children.
One more bit here of commentary. This is what you get when six of the nine Justices on SCOTUS are Roman Catholic. As a Baptist, I am fearful of that much singularity in government institutions because it will not be long before they rule in a way that is not to my liking at all. An example is contraception. Justice Thomas all but promised in his opinion to come after the laws making contraception legal. Who knows what else is on the horizon, but I am telling you, the current makeup of SCOTUS was someone’s design, and this was not the end of the plan. It is but the beginning.