Being A Pro-Life Christian In 2021

Feb 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

January 22 is always a dark day in American history, for in 1973 Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across America. The case denied the rights of the unborn and instead gave women the “right” to decide to end her pregnancy. It established the precedent that a woman’s right to choose is more important than a child’s right to live. It therefore demeaned life in the womb as unworthy in comparison to the mother and it established the false ideology that one human is more important than another. “It made a god out of ‘choice’ and placed it on an unholy altar to be worshiped.”

The following statistics reveal the true dimension of this modern holocaust:

  • Abortions performed since 1973—over 62.5 million
  • Abortions performed by Planned Parenthood since 1973—over 9 million
  • Abortions of black babies since 1973—over 18.1 million
  • Abortions performed so far in 2021—nearly 50,000
  • Abortions performed worldwide since 1980—over 1.6 billion
  • Abortions performed worldwide so far in 2021—over 2.3 million
  • Abortions performed today in the US—over 2,000—and worldwide—over 95,000.

Perceptively, columnist Michael Gerson asks this pivotal question:  “Why does this issue refuse to fade from our politics?”  As Justice Byron White argued in his Roe v. Wade dissent, the ruling was “an exercise in raw judicial power.”  Its legal reasoning as a decision has not held up well.  “[Blackman’s] system of trimesters and viability was (and is) arbitrary and medically rootless, a fig leaf covering an almost limitless abortion right.  Blackman’s weak argument largely substituted for the democratic process in 50 states.  Fiat replaced deliberation and democratic legitimacy.  This was a recipe for resentment and reaction.”  Those who advocated for the legitimacy of Roe v. Wade did so on the basis of rights—rights of the mother, not of the child.  But as Gerson so eloquently argues, “All the great civil rights movements have been movements of inclusion . . . [But] the abortion rights movement, in contrast, is a movement of autonomy.  Its primary appeal is to individual choice, not social inclusion.  And the choice it elevates seems (to some people) in tension with the principle of inclusion.  A fetus is genetically distinct from the mother, is biologically human and has the inherent capacity to develop into a child.”  It is therefore, the anti-abortion movement that appeals to inclusion.  “It argues for a more expansive definition of the human community.  It opposes ending or exploiting one human life for the benefit of another . . . But there is an ethical and political alternative, emphasizing an inclusive concern for the common good and solidarity with the most vulnerable members of the human family.  Martin Luther King Jr. called this ‘the beloved community.’  It emerges not through the assertion of autonomy, but through the acceptance of our shared humanity and of the loyalty we owe to one another.”

Furthermore, a 2013 book on the Court’s 1973 decision, Abuse of Discretion by Clarke Forsythe, offers some helpful insights into how the Court made its 1973 decision.  Shortly after the 1973 decision, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe commented that the Court “went to lengths few observers had expected, imposing limits on permissible abortion legislation so severe that no abortion law in the United States remained valid.”  Before she joined the Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that Roe was “not a measured motion” because it “invited no dialogue with legislators.”  Instead, it created “a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force.”  Not only did this case cause a furor, but in a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the Court voted by the same 7-2 margin to strike down 13 more liberal abortion laws, passed between 1967 and 1970, on the grounds that they did not include a health exception that permitted women to seek abortions at any point in a pregnancy if their health was threatened.  Further, the Court mandated that “health” include psychological as well as physical issues.  For these reasons, Forsythe argues that “the sweeping scope of Roe and Doe isolated the United States as one of approximately nine countries that allow abortion after 14 weeks and one of only four nations (with Canada, China and North Korea) that allow abortion for any reason after fetal viability.”  Forsythe demonstrates that Justice Blackman, who was assigned to write the opinion, at first wanted a narrow decision, but it was Justice William O. Douglas who threatened a scathing dissent unless Blackman agreed to a broader ruling without a rearguing of the case.  Forsythe also demonstrates how “haphazardly the court selected ‘viability’ as the point in fetal development after which abortions could be prohibited by the states.”  Forsythe also maintains that the premise on which the justices were basing their decision was that “abortion is safer than childbirth.”  He suggests that the data they used were open to question and, by treating abortion as a constitutional right, they made “abortion virtually immune” from public health oversight.  In short, Forsythe’s book enables us to reach the conclusion that the 1973 decision and its accompanying Doe v. Bolton decision were both examples of extreme judicial arrogance almost without precedent in US history.  Perhaps the only comparable example was the 1857 Dred Scott decision.  Many have compared Roe to this dastardly Court decision that helped bring on the Civil War.  From Dred Scott came the conclusion that slaves (and blacks in general) were not citizens and had no rights or constitutional protection whatsoever.  That is exactly how Roe treated the unborn baby.

Tragically, there is little or no possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.   So, what is the church to do?

  • We do have the ability to help women choose life. As Michelle Fritz argues, “We have the ability to not only teach about the sanctity of life, but to live out those teachings by supporting women who find themselves in unplanned or crisis pregnancies. In order to help others respect life, we must first respect life. Not just the life of the baby, but the life of the mother, the father, and the entire family.”
  • We must teach our children at an early age that all life is sacred from the moment of conception across all developmental stages of life.  Children innately know and understand the sacredness of life and are horrified at the thought of someone killing another person, especially a baby. We must encourage and foster their love for all people.
  • When we encounter someone who is experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy, “we should meet them with love and hope, not judgment and condemnation.” In Omaha, Nebraska, where I live, Assure Women’s Center is one of the most effective ministries serving women and their families.  Thus, the church should volunteer and/or financially support ministries such as Assure that help women and families.
  • The church must be vocal in its support of life—through its preaching and teaching and modeling of a consistent pro-life stance in all areas of life.  And, the church must pray: Pray for the mothers, pray for the fathers, pray for the babies, and pray for the extended families.

As I stated above, the church must strive for consistency in its stand on life.  Indeed, as Andrea Palpant Dilley, online managing editor of Christianity Today, argues, The past four years of American public life have been marked by partisan tension between the pro-life movement and the racial justice cause. Politically, at least, the two have been cleft apart and set at odds. The pro-life campaign is viewed by some as a conservative ‘white men’s culture war,’ while the anti-racism project is seen often as a solely progressive movement.”  Although our politics often pit these two movements against each other, the two in fact share the same moral nucleus. “The anti-abortion cause and the anti-racism cause are sibling abolition movements that protest two different cultures of exploitation and devaluation.”

The Christian abolitionist movement of the 19th century was built on the premise that all human life has intrinsic value.  Abolitionism eventually produced the 13th amendment which abolished slavery.  “Racial justice is not conditional. Black lives are valuable irrespective of circumstance, irrespective of personal bonds between blacks and whites, and irrespective of anyone’s interest or awareness.”  Arguably, then, the modern day pro-life movement perfectly parallels the abolitionist movement of the 19th century.  Under the Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling of 1857, a slaveholder decided the value of a black person’s body. In Roe v. Wade world, the mother determines the value of the unborn child. She is the legal “owner.”  Thus, Dilley proposes that the pro-life movement and the racial justice movement of today be seen as pursuing the same goals:  [1]  “First, pro-lifers are fighting for the abolition of abortion, nothing less. The abolitionists of the 19th century were calling for the total and complete end to slavery, not just the overturning of Dred Scott. Similarly, we are calling for the definitive end to abortion on demand. Overturning Roe is a necessary first step.”  [2] “Second, we are fighting to outlaw abortion in order to secure rights for the unborn. Frederick Douglass, the black Christian abolitionist, once asked, ‘Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us [blacks]?’ We can pose that same question in the abortion debate. Like the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the 14th, which promised citizenship to ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States,’ we need constitutional amendments that recognize unborn children . . . Nonetheless, the persistent blindness of this nation doesn’t decrease the moral urgency of declaring the same truth over and over again: The child inside the womb has intrinsic value and deserves the same right to life as a child outside the womb.”

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet calls his people to “seek justice” and “defend the oppressed” (Isa. 1:17). As Tim Keller argues, biblical justice “is based on God’s character—a moral absolute,” while other philosophies are “based on the changing winds of human culture.” That moral absolute applies equally to black lives, just as it applies to the unborn. That moral absolute is what we declare and defend in this Postmodern, Post-Christian culture.

See Michelle Fritz, “The Sanctity of Life and Our Catholic Response, Catholic Sistas (22 January 2021); Michael Gerson in the Washington Post (18 January 2018); Jeffrey Rosen’s very helpful review of Forsythe’s book in the Wall Street Journal (12-13 October 2013); and Andrea Palpant Dilley, “The Pro-Life Project Has a Playbook: Racial Justice History” www.christiantytoday.com (21 December 2020).

2 Comments to “Being A Pro-Life Christian In 2021”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    Well said! There is a difference between the two movements: Black Americans such as Douglass himself spoke out while there will be not quotations from an unborn child.

  2. Peter Wiebe says:

    Thank you for the article. We went from a president who acknowledged that every life was precious, a gift from God made in God’s image to a president who is doing everything possible to place the unborn at the mother’s mercy. He also looked for judges who were pro-life to nominate for the Supreme Court. Our newly elected president is doing just the opposite. The leftist press is making much of the fact that newly-inaugurated President Joseph Biden is a “devout Catholic.” However John Horvat II, Vice-President, Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a sincere Catholic, looks at “God and the Biden Administration – A Curious Coupling.” He maintains that we cannot pretend to judge the state of his soul, but we can judge his actions. Those actions, especially on abortion and related issues, do not paint a pretty picture. Biden pretends to be Catholic just to get the Catholic vote but does everything contrary to biblical teachings. Not being Catholic myself, I admire someone who values and promotes biblical teachings.

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