17 April, 2024

Roe v. Wade Overturned . . . What Now for the Church?

by | 1 November, 2022 | 1 comment

By Tina Wilson, Guest Columnist 

The landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision from 1973 was overturned in June. For many, this was an answer to decades of prayer. For some, this was a repeal of freedom. For Christians, this should be a call to action. Proper response, though, demands proper understanding of what happened.  

Prior to 1973, abortion was a felony in most states, except in a few that had relaxed abortion restrictions in the years shortly preceding the ruling. “Jane Roe”—a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey—challenged Texas state law on abortion. To expedite the case’s hearing in the Supreme Court, McCorvey lied about having been raped. (She later recanted.) McCorvey didn’t actually have an abortion, but the case resulted in the striking down of all state laws that had previously made abortion illegal.  

A companion case that challenged Georgia state law—Doe v. Bolton—was upheld that same year by the same seven U.S. Supreme Court justices; it broadened the definition of women’s health to make abortion on demand legal through all nine months of pregnancy. Like McCorvey, “Mary Doe” (Sandra Cano) later said she had been lied to and pressured by her attorney and abortion advocates. She didn’t have an abortion either. 

Though the cases were built on deception and coercion of vulnerable women, they transformed our culture. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research and policy organization, reported 744,000 abortions in the United States in 1973, the year of the Roe decision; the number of abortions rose sharply from there, peaking in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Guttmacher reported 1.6 million abortions in 1991; after that year, abortions saw a fairly steady decline. In 2020, an estimated 930,160 abortions occurred.  

For perspective, if the U.S. observed one minute of silence for each of the 64 million babies who have been legally aborted in this nation, the silence would last more than 100 years. Aside from the hole in the population (equal almost to the combined populations of Texas and California), Roe has sharply split our nation on questions of personhood, women’s rights, social issues, and health and safety for nearly 50 years. With the nation divided and the decision reversed, where do we go from here? 

State-Level Decisions 

Moving forward, the legality of abortion will be decided by individual states. At the time Roe v. Wade was reversed, according to Guttmacher, 26 states were expected to move quickly to ban abortions and 13 already had “trigger laws” in place (so named because they were “triggered” by the overturning of Roe). Nine states still had abortion bans that predated Roe.  

With the fight coming home to every state, the church has much to consider. How will we love people with whom we disagree? How can we say we love babies and we love women? How can we share Jesus? How can we best serve our communities? 

Response of the Church 

What we cannot do is nothing. When such a major shift occurs in our culture, the church must be a voice of truth. We need to talk about the sanctity of human life from conception till natural death. We need to remember that God chose Jacob to father a nation before he was born. God knit David together fearfully and wonderfully. God appointed the prophet Jeremiah before he formed him in the womb. God filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit, and the preborn John leapt at Mary’s greeting. God first revealed his Messiah to a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

This is a promising season for the church. When we are called to stand on hard truth, we also are commissioned to do hard things. It won’t be easy to meet the needs that follow this decision, but it is necessary . . . and we can do it all in the name of Jesus. Here are some responses churches ought to consider: 

• Provide Special Abilities Ministry: Babies often are aborted when disabilities are discovered in utero. The church needs to serve families facing these challenges. Ability Ministry is a great resource for U.S. churches. Consider offering worship services specially designed for students and adults with special needs. Consider offering sensory rooms and buddies in kids ministry, specialized training for staff and volunteers, better accessibility, and accommodations (like an adult changing table), and respite nights for parents and caretakers of kids and adults with special needs.  

Learn more and start the process at abilityministry.com

• Support Foster and Adoptive Families: The answer to “unwanted pregnancy” is adoption, not termination. Contact the local agency in charge of licensing for foster and adoptive parents in your area and ask how your church can help. Provide your congregation with the steps and connections to begin fostering. Find out if you can host monthly required classes for families to obtain or maintain licensing. (Parents who are already fostering children have a tough time making these meetings because they often are without childcare. The hosting church can welcome these parents and families to their campus and provide care and dinner for kids while their parents complete classes.) Consider keeping a freezer filled with meals available for pick-up by foster and adoptive families. 

• Provide Support for Struggling New Moms and Moms-to-Be: According to Guttmacher, some of the top reasons women give for having abortions are concern that a baby will interfere with education, work, or her ability to care for her dependents; other reasons include apprehension about being a single mother and being in a troubled relationship. These are issues and concerns that can be overcome with the right support system.  

Are there licensed counselors in your church who would be willing to volunteer their time? Is there a local crisis pregnancy center your church can partner with? Do you have space on your campus that you could offer for these resources? Most importantly, can your church really love these women?  

The time to start warning a young or unmarried woman against premarital sex is not after she is already expecting. Mentor her before that happens. Once she is pregnant, there is no need to restate the obvious consequence. At that point, it’s time to love her and love her child. 

• Offer Childcare: Guttmacher has found that 75 percent of women who have abortions fall into the categories of “poor” or “low income.” Most states offer some form of voucher program for childcare for such families. Many churches have facilities that could be used for childcare, ensuring their building is used for kingdom work throughout the week (not just on weekends). It might require some updates or modifications to your building to meet state licensing requirements, but those costs can be recouped in state funding if you are willing to provide care for families in need. 

Aside from the many ministry opportunities before the church right now, we also can have real, honest conversations. It’s crucial that Christians are informed. The abortion debate is highly emotional, and the most passionate ire often is based on bad information. Most women are not having abortions because of rape, incest, or ectopic pregnancies. Pro-life means pro-woman too, and physicians agree.  

Overturning Roe does not mean that women will have to die in childbirth. The quality of women’s healthcare hasn’t changed. The sweeping legalization of abortion is what has changed. A move toward protecting the most vulnerable lives—little ones who are created, known, and loved by God—is a great victory for our country. Let’s make it a great victory for our churches as well. 

This article, which appears in our November/December 2022 print edition, first appeared at www.ChristianStandard.com 

Tina Wilson serves with Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway, South Carolina. 

Tina Wilson

Tina Wilson serves as social media coordinator at Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway, South Carolina.

1 Comment

  1. Jim D

    I agree completely. There will be a cost of time and finances for the church and individuals that needs to be made to prove to the world that this is God’s will.

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