On this day in 1940, the first prisoners arrived at Auschwitz; more than one million Holocaust victims eventually died there. Every time I visit Israel, I grieve again for the six million Jews—a quarter of whom were children—murdered by the Nazis.
Closer to home, there were more mass shootings in the US last weekend, leaving at least ten people dead and forty-two injured in ten cities. Such tragedies are horrifically devastating; one is too many.
However, during that same three-day period, more than 5,400 babies were aborted in the US. (I calculated this number based on the CDC’s total of US abortions in 2019, the last year on record, divided by 365 days and multiplied by three.) Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, more than sixty-three million babies have been aborted in the US, ten times the number of Jewish Holocaust victims.
Could the ruling that enabled these deaths be overturned today?
On May 1, a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked that would overturn Roe v. Wade and return the question of abortion to the states. It was not final, so we will not know the Court’s actual ruling until it is released. The Court typically releases its opinions on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and on the third Monday of each sitting. Since the Court recesses this year on June 26, their ruling on Roe will be released within days, perhaps today.
What will happen if the Court overturns Roe? Let’s discuss three relevant questions and then turn to a holistic biblical response.
Where will abortion be legal?
According to the Guttmacher Institute (GI), twenty-six states have laws indicating that they intend to ban abortions. Thirteen have enacted “trigger laws” that would ban abortion altogether if Roe is reversed. Of these thirteen, four also have pre-Roe bans that could be enforced if the ruling is overturned. Five other states that have not enacted “trigger laws” also have such pre-Roe bans.
In addition, seventeen states have passed other bans or extreme limits on abortion that could be enforced without Roe; four of them are not included in the “trigger bans” and /or pre-Roe law groups. And GI classifies four additional states as “likely” to ban abortion based on the state’s history and political atmosphere.
On the other side, sixteen states plus the District of Columbia protect the right to abortion through state law. By my count, they total more than 118 million in population. Other states are likely to pass similar laws soon. Some states such as Maryland are increasing their capacity to conduct abortions.
What about “out of state” abortions?
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law a series of abortion bills yesterday that protect providers as well as patients coming from out of state seeking to access abortion. Connecticut and Washington have passed laws that would shield resident abortion providers from facing penalties under abortion laws in other states. Bills progressing through the Illinois and Connecticut legislatures would protect patients traveling from out of state and providers who care for them.
Meanwhile, a law proposed in Missouri would make it illegal to help someone get an abortion even in a different state.
After the Supreme Court draft leak, at least thirteen companies (Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Citigroup, Yelp, Match, Bumble, Levi Strauss, Lyft, Uber, and Mastercard) announced plans to pay for abortion travel across state lines.
What about pharmaceutical abortions?
The FDA announced last year that it would continue its pandemic-era policy to allow medication abortion, also known as the “abortion pill,” to be prescribed via telemedicine. Medication abortion now accounts for the majority of US abortion. In response, a Texas law bans abortion-inducing drugs seven weeks into pregnancy.
If the Court overturns Roe, it is plausible that states which ban abortion will seek to ban pharmaceutical abortions as well. However, there is no clear precedent for a state to ban a medication the FDA has approved.
Rejecting three lies that empower abortion
As you can see, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade today or in the next two weeks, the battle over abortion will shift from the federal level to the states and even local communities. Those of us who believe life is sacred from conception to natural death will be on the front lines. We will need to do all we can for the sake of the unborn, their biological parents and families, and our larger culture.
Abortion has been legal in the US for nearly fifty years because our society has embraced three lies:
- Radical personal autonomy (“My body, my choice”) tempts us to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
- Utilitarian ethics values people based on what they do (the unborn and the infirm are thus especially at risk) rather than who they are as bearers of the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
- The privatization of religion separates biblical truth from daily life, rejecting the biblical call to holistic faith (Romans 12:1–2) and reducing God to a hobby.
To win the abortion battle, you and I must first reject these lies in our personal lives. We must refuse the temptation to make God a means to our ends, value every person as Jesus does, and make him our king and Lord every day.
Then we can pray for the unborn to be saved and cherished, use our influence wherever we can, and support ministries that serve the cause of life with truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).
Pope Benedict XVI was right: “The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right—it is the very opposite. It is a deep wound in society.”
How will you help heal this wound today?