On June 24 the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case dealing with Mississippi’s ban on elective abortion after 15 weeks following the conception of a baby. The Court upheld the ban and overruled two previous Court decisions: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pa. v. Casey. Briefly speaking, the Court determined that there is no constitutional right to abortion on-demand in the United States and, while the Court did not outlaw this practice, ruled that decisions on the legality of abortion shall be left to the individual states. Abortion on-demand is no longer the law of the land.
As a Christian, a Lutheran, and a pastor, I laud this decision of the Supreme Court. The Court’s ruling on Dobbs is a major win for human life, righting a nearly half-century old wrong orchestrated by a previous Court in 1973. Although Dobbs is a major win in the battle for upholding the sanctity and dignity of human life, the war is not over by any stretch of the imagination. Christians and all who are pro-life need to recognize that there is still much work to do in defending human life at all ages and stages — from the cradle to the grave, from the womb to the tomb.
First and foremost, it is good for us to remember what the Bible says about the gift of human life. God said to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…” (Jeremiah 1:5). King David praises God, saying, “You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16). Around 100 A.D. the Didache (Greek for “teaching,” pronounced did-ah-KAY) was published, a document of the teachings of the twelve apostles. In it, among other things, are instructions on the moral Law (the Ten Commandments); among them is this: “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” Abortion has been an issue for the Christian Church since her earliest days.
God is the Author and Creator of human life, to be begun and ended only by Him. To this end we are called upon to promote and defend human life in all its forms, especially to defend those unable to defend themselves: preborn and young children, the aged and those facing end-of-life issues, and all who are in desperate need of our attention to them and our speaking up for them. We have opportunities to reach out to those contemplating suicide, to guide those in so much despair that they don’t know where to turn for help, to stand up for victims of bullying and domestic abuse in all their forms. The list goes on, but for spatial concerns in this column I’m giving just a few examples. What can we do? How can we help? We can volunteer our services at hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. We can contact our schools’ teachers and administrators, urging them to protect their students (who may well be our children or grandchildren or those of people we know). We can call the police when those we love are being abused. We may contact our elected leaders/servants and implore them to promote laws that protect the sanctity of human life, marriage, and family. Again, a limited number of examples is listed here; I wish I had space for more.
But, to get back to the original thrust of this column, how are we to go about as members of the pro-life movement? We do this by remaining strong and loving. We need to remain strong in the face of an unbelieving and a hate-filled world. The voices promoting on-demand abortion have become more shrill over the past few years… and more threatening, especially during the past several weeks in the aftermath of Dobbs. You see, we live in a society and a world that hates God, what He says, and those who confess Him. That is to say, they hate us. Despite their best efforts, we still have a voice in the public square, and we need to use that voice for good, to speak the truth in love, but with great boldness.
But not all of us are comfortable with being front and center in the pro-life movement, and that’s okay. There is still work to be done behind the scenes, such as holding drives to collect items new mothers and their babies need, counseling women considering abortion to think of possibly putting their babies up for adoption by loving would-be parents, supporting the work of adoption agencies and places like the Pregnancy Resource Center in Salt Lake City. For those who regret their abortions, we get to tell them that God loves them and forgives them for Jesus’ sake; abortion is NOT the unforgivable sin — Jesus died for it, too. Pray for them all and for an end to abortion.
Mark Schlamann is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Tooele.