Baptist leaders encourage North Carolina lawmakers to protect life

May 12, 2023

On May 3, the North Carolina legislature passed the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act” (Senate Bill 20), legislation that reduces the state’s elective abortion limit from 20 weeks down to 12 and includes an exception for rape and incest through 20 weeks. It also establishes an exception for fetal life-limiting anomalies through 24 weeks (there is no limit if a doctor determines the life of the mother is in danger).

Additionally, the bill includes several financial measures to support women and families, including millions in federal matching funds to reduce infant and maternal mortality and almost $59 million for foster care, kinship care, and children’s homes. 

Several criminal penalties are also in the bill, including making it a Class D felony and a $250,000 fine for any physician that fails to aid babies born alive following a botched procedure, raising penalties for assault on pregnant women, including lifetime GPS monitoring for certain domestic violence offenders. 

However, within hours of the bill passing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a video statement on Twitter accompanied by text that said he would veto the bill and that the “fine print” will “shut down clinics” and make abortion “completely unavailable to many women.” 

Baptist leaders call for action

The North Carolina Baptists (Baptist State Convention of North Carolina) and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) wrote a letter urging North Carolina lawmakers to take action on the bill. Acknowledging the political considerations that come into play, the Baptist leaders made a heartfelt plea to legislators to override the veto. 

They argue that the right to life is evident from several perspectives and implored lawmakers to take decisive action to save as many preborn lives as possible. The letter states, “we believe a right to life from conception is self-evident both from a theological perspective (see Psalm 139:13-16), a scientific perspective and a political perspective (see the Declaration of Independence).” 

In the letter, Baptist leaders also emphasize the importance of human dignity and the need to address the concerning rise of abortion rates in the state. The N.C. Baptists, with 4,300 cooperating churches and over one million members, recognize the infinite value and worth of every person, both born and preborn, in the eyes of their Creator. It is this fundamental truth that underpins their plea for legislators to consider the implications for public policy.

The letter also highlights how N.C. Baptists are dedicated to caring for preborn children, supporting vulnerable mothers, and ensuring families have the necessary resources to flourish. Their extensive work through pregnancy support clinics and various ministries demonstrates their deep commitment to protecting life from conception to natural death. Now, they are urging the state to join them in this important cause.

North Carolina lawmakers must take a stand for human dignity

In the face of a significant increase in abortion rates since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, North Carolina has become known as an abortion destination. In the letter to North Carolina lawmakers, Todd Unzicker, the executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and Brent Leatherwood, the president of the ERLC, passionately advocate for the protection of life from conception. They urge legislators to override the veto of Senate Bill 20, emphasizing the importance of human dignity and the need to reverse the rising tide of abortions in the state. 

By overriding the governor’s impending veto of Senate Bill 20, North Carolina lawmakers have an extraordinary opportunity to save countless preborn lives. By taking this action, North Carolina can establish itself as a place where life is cherished, protected, and given the opportunity to thrive.