Today is the 40th anniversary of the most heinous U.S. Supreme Court decision in modern history, a decision that the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, Norma McCorvey, was a part of the “biggest mistake of my life.” Contrary to popular belief, McCorvey has never had an abortion herself, something she felt the need to clarify even in the days of her youth when she was on the other side of the issue. While the pro-life cause has gained immense ground in America in terms of the number of people who personally identify as pro-lifers (the pro-life movement can now boast that it essentially represents the majority opinion in the United States-something that was not true 20 or 30 years ago), the damage done by the Roe decision on both the constitutional and cultural front.
On the purely legal points of the issue, even the other side admits that that pro-life cause has the momentum precisely because so many States have openly pro-life majorities in their legislatures and populations which identify themselves as increasingly pro-life. That’s great news for the cause, of course. However, the legal doctrine used in deciding Roe v. Wade, which essentially said that a right to privacy (words not found in the Constitution) existed and is guaranteed equal protection under the 14th Amendment, made the founders’ clear original intent, which was that matters not mentioned in the Constitution were to be left to the States or to the people, moot in the case of abortion. States could pass certain regulations on abortion but could not choose to outlaw the practice, even though neither abortion nor anything that could be remotely construed as pertaining to abortion is to be found in the U.S. Constitution. As long as this legal doctrine holds sway, the majority opinion won’t be able to change current law without Roe itself being overturned.
A far greater concern than the damage to the American constitutional system which Roe has done should be the awful damage that legal abortion has done to American culture. Despite the statistical gains that the pro-life movement is making in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life, the passage of restrictions on abortion at the State level, and a decrease in the number of abortions over the last 30 years, a baby is aborted in America roughly every 26 seconds. We live in a culture that glorifies death and violence in a way unseen in our history prior to today. While the pro-life cause can boast that increasing awareness is causing a decrease in abortion numbers, there are still over 1.2 million abortions in America every year. Despite the increase in self-identified pro-lifers, openly pro-abortion leaders are both elected and re-elected. These leaders impose mandates on the Church and on individual Christians and other people of conscience which force them to cover abortion and artificial contraception and drugs which induce abortions. As can easily be predicted, States have adopted or attempted to adopt laws which legalize euthanasia. As the country begins to move closer what some have called “socialized medicine,” health care costs continue to remain an issue. We should not hesitate to think that State governments or the federal government might encourage euthanasia of the old, the sick, the disabled, and the infirm who might be deemed to have a “poor quality of life.” That possibility, however remote it might seem to some, is of great personal interest to this writer. It has happened in some European countries, and it can happen in America, too.
In order to change the law on abortion and other life issues, the culture must first be transformed from one which is essentially a culture of death into one that glorifies and promotes human life and dignity. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the culture of life will win because it is right, but in the meantime Christian people must remain committed to promote and live a culture of life and preach a Gospel of life.