A round-up of post-Roe abortion developments in America

July 8, 2022

On the morning of June 24, 2022, the abortion landscape in the Unted States changed drastically with the release of the final opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case. This decision overturned the horrific precedents in both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and ultimately sent the issue of abortion back to each state to decide. Since that moment, states, federal legislators, abortion providers, pregnancy resource centers, protestors, and others immediately began to feel the effects. This, in turn, has created an overwhelming flurry of activity on a number of fronts in the abortion debate over the past week. 

It is easy to believe that the overturning of Roe means that the fight to end abortion is over, but the reality is that much remains to be done and decided on the issue. The ending of Roe is a massive step worth celebrating, but it also marks the beginning of a new chapter in the pro-life movement. In order for Christians to wisely engage this issue, it is important for us to be aware of how the advocacy efforts around abortion are quickly changing. Below is a round-up of some of the most important developments that have come about since the Dobbs decision. 

In the states

Before the Dobbs decision, states were limited in their ability to regulate abortion, but a key outcome of the opinion was a returning of this issue to the people and their democratic representatives in the states. This means that a diverse array of state laws now govern the issue of abortion, all of which provide exceptions for when a woman’s life is at risk and do not criminalize women seeking abortions

Immediately following the decision and over the next few days, a number of “trigger laws” that totally ban abortion, with slightly differing exceptions for cases of rape and incest, went into effect in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Utah, Mississippi, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, North Dakota, and Wyoming. In Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Arizona, abortion is currently banned due to pre-Roe bans that have remained on the books. It is likely that in some of these states, officials will ask the courts to rule on whether these laws can be reimplemented. Already, courts have temporarily blocked some of these bans in Utah, Arizona, Kentucky, and Louisiana. 

In Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, restrictions but not complete bans are currently in place, and several lawsuits have been filed to try and keep these bans from being enacted. Several other states, such as Tennessee and Mississippi, have gestational limit laws in effect until their total bans are ultimately enacted.

While we celebrate these states working to protect life, we must also acknowledge that this decision allows other states to regulate abortion as they see fit and even make their states “abortion destinations.” In Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, the right to abortion is protected under state constitution or law up until various gestational points. Even further, California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington not only protect access to abortion but are also expanding their laws to shield abortion providers from other state’s bans, create a “sanctuary” for those seeking abortions, and increase mandated insurance coverage for abortion.

One final group of states—Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—remain largely undecided on what their abortion stance will be. Currently, all of these states are allowing abortions up until various gestational limits, but either the courts, state legislatures, or voters may change those restrictions in the coming days.

In Congress

Though Democrats have had much to say on the end of Roe, the realities of a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and an evenly divided Senate prevent them from taking any real action to preserve access to abortion in states where it is now restricted or prohibited. It is important to note that while the Dobbs decision does return the issue to the states currently, it does not prohibit future federal legislation banning, restricting, or codifying abortion. Some Democrats, including President Biden, have urged Senate Democrats to carve out an exception to the legislative filibuster, a Senate rule that requires 60 votes to end debate and proceed to a vote on most partisan legislation, and codify Roe with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes currently required. However, Sens. Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) remain strongly opposed to this path.

Speaker Pelosi has committed to exploring legislation around data privacy concerns connected to apps such as period trackers and sensitive location data. She also has considered once again bringing the Women’s Health Protection Act to the floor for a vote. This bill is the most pro-abortion bill to pass the House, and it has failed in the Senate two times this Congress. There is no reason to believe that it would be successful with an additional attempt.

Additionally, Sens. Warren and Markey of Massachusetts introduced a bill targeting pregnancy resource centers for “disinformation”  and deception about services provided and preventing women from seeking abortions. This bill is unlikely to become law but has gained support from 15 Senate Democrats. For now, congressional Democrats are largely confined to using this issue to attempt to mobilize voters in November in hopes of winning large enough majorities to pass these pieces of legislation.

If Republicans win a majority in the House of Representatives in November, as many predict, some members of Congress have suggested taking up federal abortion restrictions such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act or the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Though those bills might pass the House, they would face an uncertain future in the Senate, and would almost assuredly be vetoed by President Biden.

In the White House and administration

Following the ruling, the president has acknowledged there is little that he is able to do, and similarly to Congressional Democrats, urged voters to elect a filibuster-proof majority in November to codify Roe. The president also joined calls to create an exception to the filibuster in order to protect abortion rights.

Within the limited authority of the presidency, Biden committed to two primary steps: ensuring that women can travel to another state to receive an abortion and protecting access to FDA-approved abortion pills. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre rejected calls to use federal lands, national parks, and Veterans Affairs hospitals to provide abortion services due to the “dangerous ramifications.” The administration also launched a new website clearly laying out a woman’s “reproductive rights” and providing features such as an abortion finder and information on insurance coverage of abortion. 

The attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have made similar commitments as Biden and are exploring avenues to ensure that states cannot ban medication abortion and to increase access to these abortifacents. The HHS also released new guidance on HIPPA enforcement “making it clear that providers are not required to disclose private medical information to third parties.” This guidance comes in light of some concern expressed by some women that period tracker or health information apps could threaten privacy rights and put them at risk if they seek to travel for an abortion.

Abortion clinics and pregnancy resource centers

Immediately following the decision, reports began to emerge of abortion clinics across various states either closing entirely or stopping their abortion services. Many abortion providers are considering how they can increase capacity in states where abortion is allowed in order to meet the demand of both local women and those traveling from out of state to receive an abortion. 

Pregnancy resource centers around the country are continuingto serve more vulnerable women who may choose to use their services now that abortion providers are no longer open. At the same time, many of these clinics have faced threats and violence in the wake of the decision. 

What comes next?

All of these efforts will continue to unfold simultaneously, creating new challenges and opportunities for the pro-life movement to evolve in this new season. One such challenge that the pro-life community will have to consider is the rise of the abortion pill and efforts to expand access to it in states where abortion is now illegal, as referenced by many pro-abortion officials. The abortion pill already accounted for over half of abortions in 2019 and is approved by the FDA for use for up to 10 weeks in a woman’s pregnancy. Recent changes now allow these abortifacients to be received through the mail from other states—even other countries—and can be done without an in-person doctor’s visit in many states. This represents a massive challenge toeliminating abortions and poses new legal territory for pro-life states to navigate. The ERLC has strongly opposed the proliferation of abortion pillsand will continue to advocate against their usage.

While we celebrate the reality of a post-Roe America, we must redouble our efforts to eventually reach a post-abortion America. As the landscape around abortion across the United States continues to change rapidly, the ERLC remains committed to ending abortion, saving lives, serving mothers, and supporting families while equipping churches to continue standing in the gap and praying for vulnerable mothers and their children.

ERLC interns Daniel Hostetter, Cooper Shull, and Rebecca Fried contributed to this article.

Hannah Daniel

Hannah Daniel serves as the ERLC’s director of public policy, representing the policy interests of Southern Baptists to government through advocacy and education. Originally from Tennessee, she graduated from Union University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in economics. She currently lives in Washington, D.C., … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24