From the Pastor’s Study – 7/3/22
On June 24th the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The landmark verdict reversed the controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that declared that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the right to an abortion. The recent ruling states that the Constitution does not confer any such right. Those who oppose abortion celebrated this long-hoped-for decision as a positive move on the part of government toward limiting and perhaps someday ending a practice believed to be the ending of a human life. The euphemistically called “pro-choice” opposition argues to the contrary; that a fundamental human right has now been taken away.
Actually, the Supreme Court decision by itself does nothing in regard to restricting abortion. Because abortion is not addressed by the Constitution, any possible legal action concerning the practice returns to the states. Whether by ballot initiative or by legislative action by state governments, abortion can now be restricted or banned altogether, and parental consent orders can be established. Conversely, states can still legalize abortion. Some states, like New York, anticipating the overturning of Roe v. Wade, have proactively passed laws legalizing abortion up to the moment of birth.
Again, people both for and against abortion are claiming the Dobbs ruling ends abortion. It does not. But neither does it highlight a newfound respect for human life, or signal a renewed regard for biblical morality or a revival of Christian religion in America. The decision was a legal ruling based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution. That is all.
The Dobbs ruling was historic, but it is wise to consider history as we live in historic times. In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued what can be called an “executive order.” The Emancipation Proclamation declared to be free all those held as slaves in the states in rebellion against the Union. In 1865, following the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, banning slavery in all states. A year later, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution granted citizenship to all people born in the United States. The effect was to declare former slaves to be U.S. citizens possessing all pertinent rights. In 1869 the 15th Amendment was added to the Constitution protecting the voting rights of all male U.S. citizens. Again, this was primarily in response to efforts in former slave states to disfranchise black voters.
In spite of all these legal actions, for a full century black Americans, particularly those living in former slave states, were subjected to segregation, discrimination, and at times violent abuse. The law changed. The values and attitudes of many, if not most, did not.
Perhaps the recent Dobbs decision will change some minds by prompting some to ponder just exactly what abortion entails. But a Supreme Court ruling is no guarantee that people’s attitude toward the unborn has or will change.
For years politicians and abortion-rights advocates insisted that they wanted abortion to be legal, safe, and rare. Yet, since 1973 there have been 60 million abortions in the U.S. The Roe v. Wade decision is not the only reason why. Abortion became a common form of retroactive birth control because of wide-spread sexual promiscuity. People – both men and women – demand sexual intimacy without commitment or consequence. Materialism and selfishness promoted abortion. Having children is costly, inconvenient, and disrupts lives. Abortions multiplied because of a lack of appreciation for the dignity of human life made in the image of God. Many abortion advocates still insist, contrary to both the Bible and science, that a fetus is just a lump of tissue.
While the Dobbs decision is a good thing, it is wholly insufficient to solve the abortion problem. What is needed now, as much as before the Dobbs decision, is for individuals to turn from their sin and follow Christ. People need to adopt a biblical view of marriage, morality, and of life. If that happens, then abortion will truly become a part of American history.