“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:41-44).
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The timing seems like a coincidence: On the church calendar, June 24 is the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It is the birthday of the prophet whom God appointed to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. I do not know if any of the Roman Catholic justices who wrote the decision were aware of this and consciously picked this date for that reason. Still, the timing is interesting at the very least.
John’s first prophetic act occurred in the womb. Upon hearing Mary’s voice, he leaped in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth knew there was something special about this leap. John’s jumping and kicking convinced Elizabeth that her relative was carrying the Messiah in her womb. John the Baptist was not just a clump of cells. He was a person, filled by the Holy Spirit, chosen by God to minister as a prophet, and he was already doing his work. He recognized the presence of Jesus, who likewise was more than a mere clump of cells. Though still in their mothers’ wombs, they were already acting as persons.
The fetus’ personhood is the essence of the abortion debate for prolife Christians. While pro-choice advocates emphasize a woman’s right to choose, viewing abortion as a medical procedure, Christianity has historically recognized the baby in the womb as a living person. The essential question is, “When does life begin?” Does it begin when the sperm fertilizes the egg to create a new single-celled entity, with a brand-new genetic code combining the parents’ DNA? Does life begin when that single-celled zygote has grown to become an embryo with its own heartbeat (several weeks after conception)? Does life begin when the fetus’ movements can be felt by the mother? Does it begin when the baby exits the mother’s body at birth or sometime thereafter? The Christian church, under the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, has always held that the baby in the womb is a person whose life should be preserved. The Didache, written ca. 100 AD, referred to those who commit abortion as “child-murderers, who go the way of death, who slay God’s image in the womb.” It adds, “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”
Fourth-century bishop Basil the Great expressed this view:
“A woman who intentionally destroys a fetus is guilty of murder. And we do not even talk about the fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed.”
The choice to commit abortion is very different from the choice to get a tattoo, nose job, or some other medical procedure.
So, now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, has the culture war against abortion ended? Not at all. The ruling merely returned the issue to the states. Some states may ban it entirely, whereas others will introduce a few new restrictions. Some states may even reduce the number of restrictions and offer greater access to abortion than before.
Furthermore, Plan B “emergency contraceptives” may become more readily available. These medications prohibit a conceived zygote from implanting in the uterus to begin development. They do not prevent conception; they merely stop the zygote from developing after the new life has begun. It is, essentially, abortion earlier in the process. Plan B may remain available nationwide by mail order, even in states where its sale in pharmacies is banned or restricted. Women will continue to find ways to end a pregnancy, either through legal means or by finding a way around the system.
So, the prolife movement cannot rest on its laurels. Overturning Roe v. Wade was only one part of the battle. Abortion is primarily a moral and spiritual issue. The Body of Christ must remain completely prolife. Are we willing to take a stand on biblical standards regarding sex: not only homosexuality but premarital sex as well? Will we cherish the family? Are we willing to consider children to be a blessing from God? Will we take a stand for life from conception until natural death for all humans?
We need to consider some of the challenges raised by pro-choice advocates. We are willing to defend the child in the womb. Will we continue to fight for the child after birth? Will we meet the needs of single mothers who have limited resources? Will we feed the poor? Will we donate money and clothing to organizations that serve low-income families? Will we actively assist single mothers that we know: to go beyond praying for them to help them with their financial needs or offer to babysit when the mother needs help?
The Church must assist and actively love single mothers. Will we meet the needs of mothers who have limited resources? Will we feed the poor? Will we provide clothing? Will we help the single mothers in our sphere of influence to ensure that they can provide for their children? “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).
What are your thoughts regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling? Can you think of ways that the prolife community can minister to families and continue to witness in a post-Roe world? Share your thoughts, experiences, or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.
Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.