How much has really changed since Roe v. Wade was overturned?

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A year after the end of Roe v. Wade, how much has really changed?

June 23, 2023 -

FILE - Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of when the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the issue of abortion law to the states. Christian leaders described the decision as “the day we have all been waiting for” and “one of the most important days in American history.”

However, Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the Court’s majority decision, cautioned that “we do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision. We can only do our job.”

And, as the last twelve months have shown, America remains as divided as ever on this issue.

Abortions are down but still occurring

After Roe v. Wade was originally passed in 1973, forty-six state legislatures had to rewrite their abortion laws, “bringing them into line with what had been, until then, the most liberal abortion laws in the nation.”

The response to the Court’s decision last year was not nearly so uniform.

Currently, thirteen states have what could be described as a total ban on abortion—though differences exist even within that grouping on how to treat issues related to incest, rape, and the health of the mother. By contrast, six states have no restrictions at all, allowing abortions up to the moment of birth. The remaining thirty-one states fall somewhere in the middle, with the majority drawing the line around the time that the fetus becomes viable.

The net result has been an estimated 24,290 fewer legal abortions from July 2022 to March 2023, the most recent month for which such data is available. The stipulation of “legal” abortions is important, however, as recent months have seen a dramatic increase in the availability and use of abortion pills, even in states where such an action is against the law. For example, Hey Jane—one of many telemedicine abortion providers—has seen a 164 percent increase in patients over the last year.

One of the newer developments in this area has been the increased frequency of international providers of abortifacients shipping the drugs to doctors and clinics in states with “shield laws,” which allow them to then distribute the pills to states with abortion bans without worrying about the repercussions of those laws.

The increased reliance on medicinal abortions is why the case over the legality of one of the most commonly used abortifacients, mifepristone, is so significant for the future of the abortion issue in America. The pill is currently part of the regimen used in more than half of all abortions across the country. A case that could revoke its government approval is likely to come before the Supreme Court for a second time in the coming months or years.

Regardless of how that case plays out, however, the fight to protect the lives of the unborn is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and current trends indicate that it is only going to get more difficult.

The best way to protect the unborn

While more states appear willing to pass laws that protect children later in pregnancy, public opinion has actually shifted over the last year to favor greater access to abortion.

Of Americans, 69 percent now support the right to first-trimester abortions, an increase of 2 percent from before Roe v. Wade was overturned. A similar trend exists for second- and third-trimester abortions as well, with almost a third and a quarter of the population supporting each, respectively.

Clearly, changing laws is not enough to change hearts on this issue. So where do we go from here?

Ultimately, this is not a fight that can be won in the political sphere. Whether it’s ordering pills through the mail, traveling out of state, or any number of other avenues, people who see abortion as their only option—or even just continue to see it as a viable option—will find a way to kill their unborn children. As such, the solution is to worry less about making it harder for people to attain an abortion and instead focus more on reducing their perceived need to seek it out in the first place.

And, as former NFL tight end and longtime advocate for the pro-life movement Benjamin Watson recently pointed out, roughly 76 percent of women say that “they would prefer to parent their child if their circumstances [were] different.”

As such, he argues that the best way to protect the unborn is to “widen our view on what might be a pro-life issue, meaning that it helps human flourishing as opposed to strictly legislation,” adding that he longs for the day when abortion is both “unthinkable and unnecessary.”

However, until the day that it becomes “unnecessary,” there is little we can do to make abortion “unthinkable” to those who are frightened by the prospect of adding a child to their lives.

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways we can help with that.

3 pro-life actions you can take today

While there are a number of ways that we can—and should—engage with the issue of helping to meet the needs that often lead people to consider abortion, a few basic steps can make a big difference in that struggle.

To start, we must understand that the vast majority of women facing the decision to terminate their pregnancy are not bad people. As Watson pointed out, more than three-quarters of them would prefer to keep their baby if they could see a realistic way to do so. As such, a little bit of empathy can go a long way toward helping them feel less trapped and more open to choosing life for their child.

Second, ask God to point you toward ministries and groups that make it a point to reach out to women in need. Whether it’s crisis pregnancy centers, local food banks, or any number of other organizations that do similar work, joining or supporting such groups as the Lord leads can help to fill in the gaps that make it difficult for people to consider adding a child to their lives.

Lastly, pray about whether the Lord might be calling you to consider adoption. It’s not for everyone, but let God be the one to make that call. And if his will for your life is not to take in a child who needs a home, ask him to show you ways that you can help support those he is calling to take such a step.

Whether it’s providing financial support, emotional support, or even just going through the process of gaining clearance to babysit for kids in foster care, or for parents in desperate need of a night out, each of us can do something to help support those who have chosen to give their children the chance to live.

How is God calling you to help?

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