Roe v. Wade: A Postmortem

Jul 4, 2022 8 min read
Roe v. Wade: A Postmortem

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court made the unprecedented decision that pregnant women have a Constitutional right to terminate the lives of their unborn children. In 2022, after almost fifty years of political contention and millions of abortions, the high Court has now overturned that decision.

Roe v. Wade: A Postmortem

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Christians across the country celebrated the overturning of Roe as an answer to prayer and a blessing given to an altogether undeserving nation. It certainly was both of these things, and we should thank God for His loving kindness and providential working to correct a horrible injustice. However, we also should take some time to reflect on how our country came to the point where a decision like Roe and the resulting legalization of abortion were ever acceptable. With estimates of 63 million aborted children under Roe v. Wade, we must take sober stock of the situation. How did the murder of unborn children become routine and commonplace in a nation that has benefited from so much Gospel light?

On January 22nd, 1973, when the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the individual States of our Union lost their right to make determinations about protections for unborn children living in their borders. Instead, the Judiciary established an arbitrary pregnancy trimester timetable governing all abortion regulations uniformly across the nation. Effectively, the framework established by the Court under Roe declared that a mother has a fundamental right to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy and that this "choice" was more important than her child's right to live.

The problem is that this decision was made by unelected judges who were operating more like a legislature than a judiciary and acted as if they were the highest authority on the subject. In reality, the Highest Authority had already spoken on this subject and if the judges had yielded their decision in the Roe v. Wade case to the revealed Word of God, the unbelievably destructive outcome that we have witnessed over the past fifty years could have been altogether avoided. We will look at what the Bible says on the subject of life in the womb momentarily, but first we will attempt to follow the tenuous logic of the Court in '73 as it reached for some plausible line of argumentation that abortion was a fundamental Constitutional right.

A careful reading of the Constitution and its Amendments leaves any honest observer with a recognition that the concept of abortion is not addressed. Few would even attempt to make a case that the founders of our nation actually intended to provide a right for women to kill their children before birth nor that it was the intention of any of the later amendments. Such an argument would be hard to make with any degree of seriousness. Rather, the approach taken by the Supreme Court was to argue abortion as a right clearly derived from other Constitutional rights. It was quite an exercise in creative (and subversive) thinking to infer abortion as a "fundamental right" in the way that was done by the Court in the Roe v. Wade case without having any supporting reference to such a right within the Constitution itself. That decision will stand as one of the most egregious examples of judicial activism in our nation's history.

The argument of the seven justices who decided in favor of Roe was that since the Fourteenth Amendment states, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law", therefore a woman's liberty necessarily includes the right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Notice that there was no concern from the Court about the person in the womb being deprived of life. Here is where we expose the first fallacy of the Roe v. Wade decision. There is an implicit assumption in the ruling that the child in the womb is not a person. This is important, because if we understand the unborn child to be a person, then the Fourteenth Amendment also protects their right to life. It is only by denying the child's personhood that the termination of his or her life could be legalized.

Science has come a long way towards helping us recognize that the child in the womb is not just a blob of tissue. Dramatic advances in sonogram technology and 3D visualization have made that kind of overly simplistic perspective less and less sustainable over time. It is also clear from DNA analysis that from the moment of conception, a unique human being exists, wholly distinct, yet still dependent on the mother for life. However, we didn't need to wait for the latest technology to tell us that an unborn child in the womb is a person. The Bible has made that clear for thousands of years.

Scripture emphatically teaches that we have personhood before birth in several passages. The Lord told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 that He knew him before forming him in the womb and that he had been consecrated and appointed to be a prophet before being born. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks beautifully of God's intimate work of creation when a new human life is conceived and His providentially overseeing the life of every person.

We know that humans are created in the image of God and that taking their life without just cause is a capital offense for that reason (see Genesis 9:6). God's Law even adds special protection for the life of the unborn as evidenced in Exodus 21:22-25.

For a person who accepts the authority of Scripture, the case is relatively straight forward.

1) The child in the womb is a human person created in the image of God.
(Psalm 139:13, Jer. 1:5, Genesis 1:27)

2) Taking the life of a human person without just cause is murder.
(Exodus 20:13, Genesis 9:6)

3) The Biblically supportable just causes for taking human life (punishment for capital crime, killing an enemy combatant in a just war, defense of others from an attacker using deadly force) are not applicable in the case of a child in the womb.
(Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12-25, Psalm 18:34, Luke 22:36, Exodus 22:2-3,
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Therefore, taking the life of an unborn child is murder.

Unfortunately, the issue is much less clear for those who reject the authority of Scripture and have arrogantly proclaimed themselves as authorities better able to decide questions of life and death than the God who made them. So, now we circle back to how our nation came to the point of allowing a decision like Roe v. Wade to stand for fifty years. Acts of murder can only be granted legal protection in a nation whose leaders are not submitted to the authority of Scripture and the routine practice of murdering the weakest among us can only be tolerated in a nation whose people have strayed from Christ.

We should also take a moment to recognize that with the demise of Roe v. Wade, we are not going to see an immediate end to abortion as a practice in America. Sadly, in response, many states are taking action to make it even easier to terminate the lives of the unborn than before. Leftist corporations are subsidizing abortion procedures for their employees living in pro-life states in defiance of state laws. Google has committed to start deleting location data for abortion clinic visits. The Biden Administration is working to make abortion-causing drugs universally available and Democrat legislators are threatening to end the filibuster in order to codify the legal framework of Roe v. Wade into new legislation to re-impose abortion legalization on all fifty states. In short, the enemies of life are still hard at work and there is much darkness in our land that is yet to be overcome by the light of the Gospel.

What can Christians do as we move forward?

First, we must continue to pray. God hears our prayers and providentially moves mountains that previously seemed immovable, as we've seen with the overturning of Roe.

We must also continue to share the Gospel, recognizing that Christ is the solution to this problem, just as Christ is the solution to every problem. A woman seeking an abortion ultimately needs Christ and God uses the preaching of the Gospel as the means for saving the lost.

Christians should be intentional about making their voices heard. We are called to be salt and light in our cities and nations (Matthew 5:13-16). For far too long many Christians have adopted the view that politics should be altogether avoided and have promoted the idea that the Gospel is limited to the realm of individual salvation. Christians must recognize that the Great Commission has much more in view (see Matthew 28:18-20).

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

We will take note that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. This is not an anticipatory proclamation. Jesus has full authority right now and His authority is the basis for the commands that follow. If we are being faithful to the direction of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should be discipling the nations, we should be sharing the Gospel, baptizing converts, and teaching them to observe God's commands. When a nation has recognized the authority of Christ, it is appropriate and expected that its governing representatives will be concerned about Justice and Righteousness as defined by the Word of God (Romans 13:3-5). If we are faithful to the Gospel, we will expect to see our nation's legislation and jurisprudence reformed to be in better alignment with Scriptural precepts. This is the intention for the ideal government as laid out in Romans 13, where rulers are "not a terror to good conduct, but to bad."

With the fall of Roe, we have taken an important step forward in reforming American jurisprudence on an important moral issue. American citizens in pro-life states will no longer be morally culpable for the horrors of unrestrained abortion in their midst. Christians in pro-abortion states will now have more influence in seeking reformation at the local and state level. This is a long battle and Christians must be willing to fight it. We can take solace in knowing that our efforts on this and numerous other moral issues are not undertaken in vain. Every life saved makes the battle worthwhile and we take confidence in knowing that the ultimate triumph of God's Kingdom is assured (Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 15:25).

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