There Is No Christian Argument Against Overturning Roe v Wade

The news that Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy will retire next month has immediately conjured up images of a pro-life judge’s taking his place and becoming the crucial fifth piece to strike down Roe v. Wade, the Court’s 1973 affirmation of a universal right to abortion. For pro-life activists and observers, this is a historic opportunity to challenge the bloodiest injustice in America for the past 50 years. While overturning Roe would not itself criminalize abortion, it would blow away the barrier against state-based laws and almost certainly result in at least 20 states outlawing abortion in most circumstances. All it takes is five justices to intervene on behalf of the lives of millions of unborn Americans. It is very close.

It is close because Donald Trump won an astonishing election the same year that Justice Antonin Scalia astonishingly died, denying the Democratic Party an opportunity to solidify Roe via President Hillary Clinton. It is close because then-candidate Trump said onstage during a presidential debate that he would seek to overturn Roe if given the opportunity to appoint justices. It is because of the relationship between the judiciary and the executive, a relationship crafted by the men on our dollars and coins, that this opportunity has come. And it is also because of Donald Trump.

This is a hard saying. Who can bear it?

In our current age, we are given to making value judgments by association. Because Donald Trump is a man of vice whose administration has pursued some cruel policies (and whose rhetoric tends to exult in such cruelty), some evangelicals will struggle with feeling joy at this vacant Court seat. “I’m personally pro-life,” they might say, “but I just don’t trust Trump, and I don’t like it that people who voted for him seem happy about this.” Thus, they might try to reason themselves into the belief that Roe ought not be overturned, that a pro-life justice ought not be appointed, all because Donald Trump ought not be president and evangelicals ought not be feeling victorious right now.

The frustration is understandable, but the logic is not. Evangelicals don’t have to set aside their convictions about race, immigrants, women, or the Religious Right in order to perceive a moral mandate when it comes to abortion. There is no Christian case against overturning Roe. None.

Once upon what seems now like a lifetime ago, pro-life evangelicals were united in horror and imprecatory prayer at the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood released by the Center for Medical Progress. Those videos have been legally prosecuted and forgotten, but they have not been unmade. There are many of us who vividly remember where we were when we watched a physician “harvest” the tiny anatomy of an aborted boy (yes, “it’s a boy”), or when we listened to Planned Parenthood reps talk about the money and humor in the trafficking of babies. While these videos were being released, there was no question amongst most evangelicals whether abortion was a cause worth engaging at the highest possible level. There was no Donald Trump and no morally compromised Religious Right to complicate things.

Three years later, the producers of those videos are fighting litigation, and many of us who watched and cried and prayed are fighting ourselves. The illusion of virtue in our tribe was dismantled by 2016, by #MeToo, by the children of refugees in prison-like holding cells. It has been terrible. But evangelicals cannot allow the hypocrisy of their elders to blind them to the innocence of their infants. It is not remotely unreasonable or incoherent to stand as far away as possible from the rot of God and country Republicanism while charging alongside it against Roe v. Wade. In fact, it is the only option we have.

In a now-deleted tweet, a prominent progressive evangelical writer said though she was “convictionally pro-life” (those slippery adverbs!), she could not support the overturning of Roe v Wade due to all the “effects” it would have. After deleting the tweet, she said that Twitter was obviously not the right place to talk about abortion. Nothing more than a 2 minute perusal of her Twitter account reveals dozens of impassioned threads about everything from gun control to immigration to policing. This sort of double dealing has become rampant among younger, socially conscious evangelicals in the aftermath of Trump’s election. While abortion is a “complex conversation” that requires nuance instead of activism, the issues that the Republican Party morally fails on are apparently no-brainers.

I don’t think this attitude necessarily comes from apathy about unborn babies or rank partisanship. I think it mostly comes from fear—fear of becoming the wrong kind of person in the wrong kind of tribe. Again, the fear is understandable, but the rationalization seen above is not. To act as if morally upright Christians cannot support President Trump’s appointment of a justice who would tip the scales against Roe is to prioritize political consistency and tribal identity over human life itself. It is the literal opposite of a Christ-honoring public theology.

Martin Luther King famously said that laws could not make white people love black people, but they could keep white people from lynching black people. In other words, a law that doesn’t address the deepest problems but still preserves life is a worthy law. Evangelicals who say that overturning Roe would not destroy back alley abortions need to ponder the truth in King’s statement. The possibility that a law will be broken and that people will suffer is not an argument against a moral law. It’s an argument against us sinful people.  The overturning of Roe would allow states to codify the sanctity of unborn life, and laws do teach. We may not be able to change hearts, but we can shape them as they grow…but only if they’re allowed to beat.

Roe v. Wade is a legal catastrophe. It is Constitutional soothsaying. It’s a decision based on discredited scientific claims and cartoon philosophy. Worst of all, it has been the death sentence of over 60 million Americans. Worrying about whether its reversal will register as a win for a president who is unworthy of it is not a competing interest to its destruction. This should not, must not, and cannot be a “white Republican Christian” issue. It’s everyone’s issue. There is no Christian case for keeping Roe. None.

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15 thoughts on “There Is No Christian Argument Against Overturning Roe v Wade

  1. Yes, overturning RvW would undo a legal monstrosity that the nation has been choking on for 40+ years and return the political problem to legislatures where it belongs. I doubt God would curse America for overturning it.
    But… it is not illegitimate to take consequences into account. Would this decision result in a constitutional crisis? Would it withstand the next elections?
    Would it result in civil war? The Democrats act like it. Personally I’d rather live in an unjust political order than undergo war.
    Then again Dred Scott was designed to avoid civil war and it didn’t work.
    These are the things we have to consider.

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    1. Anthony

      If Progressives want to go to war over Roe v. Wade then that’s on them and God will hold them accountable for that.

      I would rather risk going to war for protecting the lives of future children and standing for righteousness, than to preserve the most wicked practice our country has enacted for the sake of peace. It is pure moral cowardice to seek peace for myself (which will never work long-term with the current trajectory of Progressives anyways) at the expense of peace for defenseless babies in the womb who never have a chance to experience lasting health and happiness.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. It's Only Words

      “I’d rather that babies were dismembered and ripped from their mothers’ wombs every day.”

      Does that clarify things for you?

      Like

      1. Politics is about prudence. I’d rather have babies legally murdered than live in a failed state, yes. I’d rather live in America than Libya.
        I’m not saying it will come to that if RvW is overturned, but the risk of social unrest has to be taken into account.

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  2. As a leader in my church, I have argued for downplaying social issues in our culture, because the only issue of eternal importance is the gospel. But this post is powerful enough to make me read and prayerfully reread it, and perhaps change my position. The gospel, of course, does speak to social issues because our Father cares about the murder of 60 million babies.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Omer

    To those who would say that this president doesn’t deserve a win, I would ask which president ever “deserved” a win. I would argue that most politicians are sociopaths, narcissists only interested in control and money. God uses evil governments to work his will. God used to Roman Empire to fulfill the gospel and spread it, yet no one would argue that the Romans were righteous or deserved the win. If this, or any, president does some good things then we should thank our Lord. If the president does evil then we should say it’s evil and pray to the Lord for protection. Either way, few of us are in a position to influence the president, or any politician, in any meaningful way.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Kash

    If abortion is really the moral pariah conservatives say it is, why not amend the constitution and put this thing to bed? It’s not like they don’t have the votes to do it. Same thing with gay marriage.

    Like

    1. Katie

      Because the people in power have lied in order to get elected. When they vote contrary to campaign promises their true beliefs are shown. Many of the people who voted for them also lack conviction for their professed beliefs, so they are not moved to hold them accountable when the next election comes around.

      Like

    2. Anthony

      Not a bad question and I think that is probably the best route in the end for any meaningful long-term change. However, I think the issue is that since the Supreme Court invented the “right” of abortion and gay marriage in their rulings, it will need to be overturned in the SC either way, amendment or not.

      Like

    3. Timothy Stranske

      This comment indicates lack of familiarity with the current political configuration. There is an infinitesimally small chance that either a gay marriage ban or an abortion ban would get 2/3 vote in each house and be ratified by 3/4 of the states. They don’t have anything like the votes necessary to do it.

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  6. Well said! Roe has existed for too long already. I didn’t vote for Trump, and still think there were better options in the republican lineup, but I hope the Lord will use him to remove some of the potential for wickedness from this land – even if he is a wicked man…. and maybe after Roe they can get to removing “the Obergefell decision” as well!

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