Yesterday, the Supreme Court delivered what is being called “the greatest victory for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade.”
The Texas law struck down by the Court required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the clinic so they could treat patients who need surgery or other critical care. The law also required abortion clinics to have hospital-grade facilities for the same reason. Twenty-five other states had similar regulations.
The Court determined by a five-to-three vote that these requirements place an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to an abortion. The majority found that they provide “few, if any, health benefits for women” and pose “a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions” as well as “an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, sharply criticizing the liberal judges’ illogic and arbitrary standards. He noted that the ruling “exemplifies the court’s troubling tendency to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.” Thomas emphasized that “today’s decision perpetuates the Court’s habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights—especially the putative right to abortion.”
Here’s evidence that he’s right: the Texas law also included a ban on abortion after twenty weeks, but it was unchallenged. My guess is that abortion advocates have not attacked this provision (yet) because it is so popular. According to a recent poll, the vast majority of Americans (including two-thirds of pro-choice advocates) believe that abortion should be available only during the first three months of pregnancy. So the twenty-week ban in Texas remains in effect, for now.
Once again, unborn children are being used as political pawns.
Many of the politicians who support abortion do so for political reasons. Advocating for “reproductive rights” is a winning strategy for them in this day of ethical “tolerance.” Unfortunately, many politicians who oppose abortion do so for political reasons as well, knowing that they serve constituents who are strongly pro-life. If they were as staunch in their opposition to sex trafficking, slavery, and racial prejudice, their pro-life support would be more consistent.
Ethicist Russell Moore is right: “The personhood and dignity of the unborn are not political wedge issues; they are essential human rights.” But as long as the majority of Americans believe that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she wishes, this debate will continue and millions more lives will be lost.
How can those of us who believe that life begins at conception respond?
First, we should continue to warn against the devastation of abortion. Studies show that women who have an abortion face an increased risk for substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. In fact, they are 155 percent more likely to commit suicide. Knowing these facts could change the popularity of abortion and undermine political support for it.
Second, we must be consistently pro-life. Many pro-abortion advocates see our opposition as political opportunism and a “war on women.” Let’s prove them wrong.
We should advocate for adoption as well as against abortion. We should care for the mother, father, and family as well as the unborn child. Many women who choose abortion do so for financial reasons—we should help them bear this burden so they can choose to give their children life.
Third, we should grieve as our Lord grieves today. He creates every precious child lost to abortion (Psalm 139:13–16). He loves those who choose abortion, but he hates their grievous sin. He warns us not to “shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17)—no blood is more innocent than that of a baby.
These are tragic days for America.