One Week Later: The Top Five Things Christians Need to Know About the Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

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Roe is gone. Christians, let’s be filled with joy. Don’t let any nay-sayers tell you now is not a time to celebrate. Make sure to lift your hands in thanks and praise to our gracious God. But be prepared to put them back on the pro-life plow. The fight for the right to life, at pregnancy centers and ballot boxes across the country, must continue until abortion is illegal all across our land.”

WILLIAM WOLFE

Last Friday, June 24, is a day that will go down in history. Shortly after 10:00 a.m., the Supreme Court finally released its official decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. This case centered around a Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks. The pro-life movement hoped (and prayed) the case would be used as a pretext to overturn both the Roe v. Wade and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey precedents.

Remember, back on May 3, a draft majority opinion authored by Justice Alito had been leaked, showing that the Court had decided to do exactly that — completely overturn Roe and Casey. Millions of pro-life Americans waited on pins and needles, and prayed on bended knees over the last two months, waiting to see if the Court’s final decision would be as strong as the leaked draft. By God’s grace, we were not disappointed.

Right on the first page of the ruling, was this glorious line:

“Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Just like that, we knew our nearly 50-year national nightmare — the bloody holocaust of federally protected infanticide in America — had finally come to an end.

That’s the most important thing to know: Roe is repealed. It’s gone. This is a time for celebration!

But the decision, the concurrences, and the dissents are over 200 pages in total. And just because Roe is repealed, doesn’t mean the fight to protect life across our country is over. Far from it.

So, here are “The Top Five Things That Christians Need to Know” about the decision in the Dobbs case and what it means for the future of the pro-life movement going forward.

1. How the Justices Voted

Overall, it was a 6-3 decision, but that broke down along some interesting lines. We read in the decision that:

“ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, GORSUCH, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., and KAVANAUGH, J., filed concurring opinions. ROBERTS, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion.”

This means that Chief Justice Roberts did not sign on to the five-member majority opinion, but wrote his own that ultimately concurred. This is important to point out because many “Court watchers” raised serious doubts that Roberts would be willing to go all the way and overturn Roe and Casey — but in the end, he was. While Chief Justice Roberts has rightly been a disappointment to conservatives, we can give credit where credit is due and be glad that he joined the right decision.

Justice Thomas joined the majority opinion as well, issuing his own concurrence, as did Justice Kavanaugh. However, Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion makes it clear that he understands other former decisions that relied on substantive due process to be on the table, like Obergefell. However, Kavanaugh seems to try and close the door, unfortunately, on a constitutional abortion ban (which is where the pro-life movement should head next).

The liberal justices — Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan — all joined together in a singular dissent. They doubled down on the standard line of reasoning that abortion is all about a “woman’s right to choose.” They wrote:

Roe held, and Casey reaffirmed, that in the first stages of pregnancy, the government could not make that choice for women. The government could not control a woman’s body or the course of a woman’s life: It could not determine what the woman’s future would be.”

Of course, this entirely overlooks the reality that the baby inside of the mother is not the woman’s body. They also speculate that “Perhaps, in the wake of today’s decision, a state law will criminalize the woman’s conduct too, incarcerating or fining her for daring to seek or obtain an abortion.”

To that, as Christians, we must ask: Are women not moral agents? Does the command, “Thou shall not murder” in Exodus 20:13 not apply to mothers? Of course, it does. The liberal justices are right — this will be a topic of discussion and legislation going forward.

2. The Decision Destroyed the Myth That Abortion Has Ever Been Historically Accepted or Established as a Right in America

The progressive left, aided and abetted by the media, spins the propaganda machine at full speed every time they get a “win” to try and convince the public that their newfound and now legally established moral degradation was inevitable and has always been the case. Whatever they were demanding — abortion, homosexual marriage — once they achieve it, they revise history to make it sound like they’ve always had it.

Over the last 50 years, this has led millions of Americans to believe things that are simply not true about the “right” to an abortion. So, it’s important to see how the Dobbs ruling provides a brief, but powerful, few sentences exposing this inaccuracy. It reminds us:

“Until the latter part of the 20th century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right. Until a few years before Roe, no federal or state court had recognized such a right. Nor had any scholarly treatise. Indeed, abortion had long been a crime in every single State. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions. By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. This consensus endured until the day Roe was decided.”

Did you know that? Did you know how truly ahistorical and unprecedented the Roe decision was? How it wasn’t based on the Constitution in any real sense? Or in any historical understanding of the 14th Amendment?

If most pro-lifers don’t know this, do you think the average abortion supporter knows this? The answer is that most certainly did/do not.

That’s because the progressive view of history is that everything leads to its preferred, inevitable outcomes. Even when it can be shown, demonstrably, that what they are claiming “has always been a right” is, in fact, a new thing, a mutation, a novelty.

The fact that the Dobbs decision makes this so clear — that there never was a “constitutional right” to an abortion — should not be overlooked. History matters. This decision shows us why.

3. Justice Alito Issued the Strong Ruling Needed to Eliminate Any Notion that the Constitution Grants a Right to an Abortion

In his ruling, he outlines how, in the words of O. Carter Snead, the initial Roe decision was a “policy analysis dressed up as a legal opinion.”

What this means is that Roe wasn’t grounded in the Constitution or determined by reading the Constitution closely and properly. Rather, it was pieced together by activist justices who were functioning more like legislators, making new laws out of whole cloth.

Justice Alito writes:

“In 1973, this Court decided Roe v. Wade. Even though the Constitution makes no mention of abortion, the Court held that it confers a broad right to obtain one. It did not claim that American law or the common law had ever recognized such a right, and its survey of history ranged from the constitutionally irrelevant (e.g., its discussion of abortion in antiquity) to the plainly incorrect (e.g., its assertion that abortion was probably never a crime under the common law). After cataloging a wealth of other information having no bearing on the meaning of the Constitution, the opinion concluded with a numbered set of rules much like those that might be found in a statute enacted by a legislature.”

In other words, in 1973 the Court acted like lawmakers, even though that’s not their role. Instead of sticking with the original intent of the Constitution, they created a new “law” — through judicial activism.

Alito goes on to note that, by doing so, they short-circuited the democratic process. He writes:

Roe abruptly ended that political process. It imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation, and it effectively struck down the abortion laws of every single State. As Justice Byron White aptly put it in his dissent, the decision represented the ‘exercise of raw judicial power,’… and it sparked a national controversy that has embittered our political culture for a half century.”

By undoing this mistake, this overreach, the Dobbs ruling upholds and strengthens our democracy. Many activists and figures in the media are claiming the decision is proof that our system of government is under attack — but it’s the exact opposite. The justices are releasing their power in this opinion. It’s not undemocratic, but rather returning power to the people.

And the core of Alito’s argument is as simple as this: The Constitution does not prevent states from banning abortion, because there is no “right” to an abortion.

He continues:

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’ Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). The right to abortion does not fall within this category.”

This ruling is a masterpiece in legal reasoning. This is exactly what the conservative legal movement has been hoping for, that the pro-life movement has been working for, and that Christians have been praying for.

4. Not All the Conservative Justices Agreed on What This Means for Other Bad Precedents

In the majority opinion, Justice Alito argues that:

“Finally, the dissent suggests that our decision calls into question Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence, and Obergefell…But we have stated unequivocally that “[n]othing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

Thus, for the official decision, the concept of overturning something like Obergefell, which invented the right to homosexual marriage, is off the table.

But like I mentioned above, that’s not how Justice Thomas sees it. He recognizes that this decision does not specifically deal with anything outside of abortion, and so:

“For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’…we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents.”

This is important because the “right” to homosexual marriage was established by Justice Kennedy in the Obergefell ruling as being grounded in the 14th Amendment.

Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute reminds us that, “Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy asserted that the right to marry is a fundamental right ‘inherent in the liberty of the person’ and is therefore protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits the states from depriving any person of ‘life, liberty or property without the due process of law.’” 

Whether or not there are currently five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Obergefell is a serious question. But Christians know that marriage can only ever be between one man and one woman. The Constitution provided no grounds for inventing a new definition of marriage, regardless of Justice Kennedy’s ruling. Just as there was a pro-life movement to overturn Roe, now Christians must consider what it would look like to lead a pro-marriage movement to overturn Obergefell.

5. The Pro-Life Movement Doesn’t End with This Ruling

The work isn’t just beginning, as some have said, but it does continue — and in earnest. So, what’s next? And specifically, what’s next for Christians in America?

Ryan Anderson made it very clear in an online discussion hosted by his organization, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, just hours after the decision was released, that this wasn’t the end of the fight for life. He said, “The opinion sets up another line of legal argument…14th Amendment personhood…. overturning Roe and Casey is not the endpoint.”

Consider how Justice Thomas, in his concurrence, puts it:

“That 50 years have passed since Roe and abortion advocates still cannot coherently articulate the right (or rights) at stake proves the obvious: The right to abortion is ultimately a policy goal in desperate search of a constitutional justification.”

If understood correctly, since there is no constitutional right to an abortion, that means there is nothing prohibiting Congress from passing a law that makes abortion illegal in all 50 states — not just in states with pro-life legislators and governors.

This is where the pro-life movement, and Christians, should go next. We shouldn’t rest until abortion is illegal in all 50 states, as we seek to “Rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:11) and stop the shedding of innocent blood.

It’s concerning, however, to read this from Justice Kavanaugh in his concurrence:

“The issue before this Court, however, is not the policy or morality of abortion. The issue before this Court is what the Constitution says about abortion. The Constitution does not take sides on the issue of abortion.”

Respectfully, Christians — and all constitutional originalists — must disagree. Far from allowing abortion, the 14th Amendment clearly provides a “right to life.” It reads:

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So, what’s next? A state-by-state effort to criminalize abortion across the country. Many states have “trigger laws” — laws to completely outlaw abortion except in the case of the life of the mother, which have already gone into effect. NPR reports that “As of Friday, trigger laws are already in effect in several states, including Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota.” More states must — and will — follow.

Along with this, there must be a continued effort (which has already been ongoing) to provide the needed services to hurting and surprised expectant single or poor mothers through crisis pregnancy centers. Pro-lifers must also look to help make adoption cheaper and more accessible. However, Christians should be on guard against efforts to smuggle in socialism and massive government spending programs simply because Roe has fallen — that is not the answer to the problem of fatherlessness and familial decline in America.

Finally, Christians must continue to vote pro-life and only pro-life. This wonderful outcome is not the end of the movement. It’s not the “beginning” either, as some claim; it is a God-given victory that should be celebrated as such. But we must realize that the pro-abortion forces in our nation will come roaring back with as much force as they can muster. Christians must be prepared to meet them at the ballot box this fall, voting for elected representatives who are committed to upholding and expanding this decision.

Conclusion

Psalm 126:3 says that “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” One of those great things that God has done — through all the hard work, tears, and prayers of the pro-life movement — is to finally bring an end to Roe v. Wade.

Even now, exactly one week later, these words still seem too good to be true: “Held: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled.”

Yet they are. Roe is done with. Christians, let’s be filled with joy. Don’t let any nay-sayers tell you now is not a time to celebrate. Make sure to lift your hands in thanks and praise to our gracious God. But be prepared to put them back on the pro-life plow. The fight for the right to life, at pregnancy centers and ballot boxes across the country, must continue until abortion is illegal all across our land.

But make no mistake about it: It’s a new day in America. One that is dawning right as we are about to celebrate our national birthday. A more perfect union is indeed forming, one with Roe in our national rearview mirror. Lord willing, forever.


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