The overturning of the fifty-year-old Roe vs Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that allowed abortion in the USA, has provoked all sorts of reactions. For Christians such as myself, who have long campaigned for the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception, it is a pivotal and momentous point in history. As our Holy Bible says:
‘When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.’ (Proverbs 21:15 NIV)
Yet to our rejoicing can I suggest we add a few other things.
The first is reflection. Here can I suggest the need for all of us to recognise that we are dealing with sensitive and painful matters in which great hurt has often been experienced. Many women silently bear deep mental scars over an abortion and so any triumph must be seasoned with grace.
A second reflection is that while this is a victory, it is not the victory we wanted. What we have seen is the legal verdict, undergirded by bitter politics, that the earlier 1973 Supreme Court ruling which mandated legalised abortion nationally was flawed.
What would have been infinitely preferable would have been a universal recognition of the moral argument against abortion, which is that it involves the taking of a defenceless human life. Without such a recognition, this legal decision may simply breed further division and fuel the already bitter culture war.
A third reflection is that this victory is a restatement of two great truths: one, that what a woman bears in her womb is not merely ‘foetal tissue’ but a human life; and two, that abortion is not an acceptable means of birth control. Indeed, it is worth remembering that in the fifty years since Roe v Wade the quantity and quality of contraception available has improved enormously.
A fourth reflection, heightened by the immediate press response, is the troubled recognition that we Christians will now face bitter counter-attacks, as l have already experienced on my social media. These accusations we must suffer. A point we must make, however, is that for we Christians who are pro-life, this is not all that defines us. The gospel of Christ is about a rich love, grace, forgiveness, healing and new life.
Rejoicing, reflection but also response. As many people are pointing out, it is not enough to declare an action illegal; we must offer an alternative. Being pro-life always means asking how to help women welcome new life and we must pray that many will adopt unwanted babies and fund childcare.
And finally, resolution. We in the UK are of course aware that the overturning of an American law has no relevance here. Yet it is a profound encouragement that legislation can be reversed and that with prayer and persistence ungodly laws can be changed. May our UK government ponder this ruling and do the same here.
I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God. Let us pray and persist to see the evil of abortion eradicated here.
‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV)