Opposing abortion with the love of Christ
Few Supreme Court decisions have truly changed the social fabric of this country. The Dred Scott decision precipitated the civil war. Brown v. Board of Education prohibited the practice of segregation in this country and condemned the Jim Crow practice of maintaining public facilities that were separate but “equal.” Few others can match up to these cases in terms of effect on the American psyche, enforcement of judge-made law and implications for the role of the court in American government.
Questioning the role of the Supreme Court
One that can is the historic Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which had its 39th anniversary last week. The decision, which interpreted the 14th Amendment to give Americans a constitutional right to privacy and ended laws across the country that banned abortion, also effectively divided the nation into two camps. All of a sudden, Americans could identify themselves as “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Religious groups were furious. Women’s rights groups were galvanized. This decision threw to the forefront of American politics an issue which still influences the political landscape today.
There are other implications of this decision. In addition to the political struggle over abortion, Roe highlights the rise of judge-made law in this country. Opponents, such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, claim that the decision is an example of judicial overreach, a time when the justices circumvented the will of the American people as exercised through their democratically elected legislative representatives. The anti-abortion laws that Roe skirted had been passed legislatively. The laws had gone through state and municipal law-making bodies, achieving majority votes and surviving challenges in lower courts. Is the Supreme Court’s mandate to change the law, or to interpret the Constitution? It can be argued that Roe furthered an already burgeoning precedent taking place in the judiciary; one where judges — through their decisions — changed existing laws and effectively put new ones in place.
Fighting Roe v. Wade with love and prayer
Abortion, as a practice, does need to be addressed. This decision legalized, nationally, a practice that is tragic under any circumstance, and considered sinful by many Americans. Christian groups have been leading the charge against abortion for centuries, and for centuries they have been successful. Suddenly, in the mid-1970s, abortion was legal, and Christians were spurred to action. But what action does it beg of us? Should we band together to legislate abortion out of existence, to override the decision of the highest court in the land? Legislative override of a Supreme Court decision, which can be achieved by a constitutional amendment or the rewriting, passing and signing of an amended law, is an arduous process that costs hundreds of thousands of man-hours, millions of dollars and huge amounts of political capital.
Most Christians agree that abortion is tragic, sinful, heartbreaking, damaging and altogether too common. It needs to be fought. As we pass this historic landmark, I would like to propose another avenue of warfare. Perhaps, we as Christians — instead of working to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision, instead of working to make the doctors and nurses who perform abortion criminals, instead of working to make women, desperate to end their pregnancies, outcasts — we should pray, and show the love of Christ. All too often, we see pro-life advocates using anger and fear as tactics, intimidating and name-calling patients and pro-choice proponents in the place of attempting to change hearts and minds. I’m sure we Christians who fight abortion can increase our use of Christ-like tactics to fight abortion. We can never have enough love.
This decision irreversibly changed the way that this country thinks about abortion. What’s more, it altered the American psyche in the way that few other decisions have, and established a way of thinking about life that will be hard to change. With this in mind, we should show every woman in this country that abortion is not the best option. We should prayerfully approach them, with the love of Christ and armor of God, and suggest that they keep their babies. We should offer them, with the backing of our churches and lobbies and organizations, emotional, spiritual and financial support — promising safety for them, and a future for them and their child. We should pray fervently and constantly that the Holy Spirit change their hearts and minds, because laws and Supreme Court decisions cannot do that. If we want to eliminate abortion, what better weapon than prayer? With the Holy Spirit on our side and the love of Christ in our hearts, who can stand against us?