As expected, after the recent leak of Justice Alito’s opinion, the Supreme Court has reversed the Roe versus Wade decision. It’s hard to overestimate the significance of this decision, coming after almost fifty long, hard, excruciating years. Contrary to popular opinion, the end of Roe doesn’t mean every unborn life in America is protected, it doesn’t mean the end of abortion. But what this ruling does mean is that this issue can be debated and legislated by a democratic process rather than by judicial fiat.
So, what now? How should faithful Christians respond now that Roe versus Wade has been reversed?
First, we should take time to give thanks. I’m convinced Roe versus Wade will go down as one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history, alongside decisions like Plessy, Dred Scott, and others. Roe’s reversal is a triumph of constitutionalism. We should rejoice that because of the courage of the five justices who voted to strike it down, the states that restrict abortion will continue to be able to do that and many image-bearers will get to see their first breaths. Even though we are disappointed by Justice Roberts refusal to join the five other justices in striking down, we can be grateful he at least voted to uphold the Hobbs case in MS. Even this opinion is in line with the majority of Americans who favor abortion restrictions at this point in a pregnancy.
We should be thankful for this decision, a day many never thought they’d see happen. I’ve been talking in recent days with many long-time pro-life leaders who have worked for this moment their entire lives, a day they never thought they’d see happen. Those of us who are pro-life activists today have the fathers and mothers of this movement to thank, for speaking out about life when it was not as well-received, for helping introduce into our culture the moral vocabulary that sees humanity in the most vulnerable, for the courage to against the tide. We should be thankful for Presidents who appointed originalist justices, including President George HW. Bush’s appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas, President George W Bush’s appointment of Justice Alito, and President Trump’s appointment of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett.
Second, we should remember that this is only the beginning of the fight for the unborn. The end of Roe is only just the beginning. Now the advocacy for the unborn goes from state to state. Some states will, thankfully, ban abortion based on “trigger laws” that go into effect now that Court has ruled. Other states will tragically go the other way and increase access to abortions including paying for travel expenses for those who wish to travel to terminate a pregnancy. And many states will be somewhere in the middle, perhaps some to pass incremental legislation that puts in place, such as 12-, 20-, or 6-week bans. Pro-lifers must not grow weary in well doing. Our work will need to happen in statehouses around the country, working to pass meaningful legislation that recognizes the dignity of the unborn.
Third, we should continue to serve, with compassion, mothers in crisis. The end of Roe is not the end of unplanned pregnancies. Thankfully, in almost every community, there are pregnancy resource centers staffed by amazingly sacrificial people who offer compassion and hope to young women. We not only need to double down in our commitment to this kind of work, but we’ll also need to think creatively about other ways our churches and communities can meet the tidal wave of human need coming our way. One example is foster care and adoption. Currently there are about 400,000 kids in foster care. They need loving homes and loving communities.
I’m confident the people of God will rise to the challenge in the same way the church today is mobilizing to bring gospel hope and healing in so many places of despair around the world. I’m especially encouraged by the thinkers, activists, and policymakers who are strategizing about innovative policy approaches to help stabilize women and families in crisis. Let’s hope these discussions and debates continue.
Fourth, we should not abandon persuasion. Thankfully, most Americans are in favor of some level of abortion restrictions, but we have not yet fully created, in former President Bush’s words, a “culture of life.” Roe may be reversed, but the need to articulate the sanctity of life skillfully, logically, and compassionately is still as important as it has ever been. For Christians, we speak from the truth revealed to us by God. Genesis tells us from the beginning that every human being is made in the image of God and possesses unique dignity and worth. Psalm 139 says that every life is uniquely crafted by God in the womb from the moment of conception. The first chapter of Jeremiah reminds us that before we were born, God knew us. These timeless truths combined with breathtaking scientific breakthroughs should be used to reach this generation. It is good and noble for God’s people to stand up for the vulnerable in this way.
Fifth, we should pray earnestly. 1 Timothy 2 urges us to pray for our public officials at every level. As exasperated as we often get at politicians, we should kneel before our Father and pray for their wisdom and discretion. We believe ultimately, even as we work for a culture of life, that God is sovereign over all human government and is gathering history to himself. So, we fight for the unborn; we lament a culture of death; we work for policies that encourage human flourishing but do it knowing that ultimately Christ’s kingdom will endure.
Today is a good day in America. Let’s pray that this leads to the day when our laws fully recognize the personhood of the unborn. And let’s pray for a day when every vulnerable human life in our country is valued.
This commentary originally appeared at The Land Center for Cultural Engagement. Used with permission.
Image credit: Unsplash / Bill Mason
Daniel Darling is the Director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement. He previously served as the Senior VP for Communications at National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and VP of Communications for the ERLC. You can find more from Dan at DanielDarling.com.