Why the pro-life movement must go on if Roe is overturned

And why it must continue if Roe remains

October 14, 2020

Since shortly after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Catholics, evangelicals, and many others in the United States have looked forward to a day when that ruling would be overturned. But in the intervening years, the Supreme Court of the United States has not moved any closer to doing so. Instead, it has reaffirmed the essential holding in Roe and buttressed its arguments in favor of a constitutional right to abortion with its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Even so, opponents of abortion have not met these legal setbacks with silence. Over the course of nearly five decades, they have created a flourishing, comprehensive, and nationwide movement centered around a positive message about the value of human life.

As we watch the Senate Judiciary Committee conduct confirmation hearings this week for Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, many pro-life advocates are once again considering the possibility of a United States where Roe v. Wade has been overturned. But what would achieving that kind of legal victory mean for pro-life advocates that have sought it for nearly 50 years? Writing recently for Christianity Today, Russell Moore suggested, “in some ways, the day after Roe will be the beginning of the pro-life movement, not the end of it.” 

He is exactly right. Many people wrongly assume that a reversal of Roe would make abortion illegal in the United States. It would not. Instead, it would simply hand back the legal authority to restrict or protect abortion access to the states. Presently, some states have laws on the books—nine of which pre-date the Court’s 1973 ruling—that would immediately ban or significantly restrict abortion access if Roe were overturned. At the same time, 15 states have enacted protections for abortion in their state constitutions. This means that the legal battle to end abortion goes much further than the Supreme Court.

Pro-life work 

But there is a more important reason to think that the reversal of Roe would actually mark a new beginning for the pro-life movement. To reiterate what Moore said, in an America after Roe, the work of the pro-life movement will be needed more, not less.

Right now, in cities and towns across the country, selfless and sacrificial men and women give of their time, money, energy, and resources in support of the cause of life. They do this in innumerable ways, but all of their efforts are aimed at defending and preserving life. And all of this work is motivated by their common belief that every life is precious and sacred.

Honestly, I am in awe of the pro-life movement. Though it isn’t perfect, I find it remarkable that countless thousands of people of all kinds of faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs have come together to use their time and talents to protect and care for the vulnerable. They do this through advocacy and by showing up in Washington every year at the annual March for Life to honor and speak for those who cannot march or speak for themselves. They do this through legal efforts by supporting candidates and legislation intended to protect the lives of preborn children. And perhaps most importantly, they do this through innumerable forms of humanitarian work from adoption and orphan care to mentoring, counseling, and meeting material needs for mothers, fathers, children, and families in difficult situations.

Whether Roe is overturned or not, the work of the pro-life movement can and must go on.

A perfect example of this incredible work is the proliferation of crisis pregnancy centers. Often, numerous churches and community members band together to establish and support the work of these organizations. Crisis pregnancy centers are beacons of hope in their communities. They represent a refuge for young women facing unplanned pregnancies, a safe haven where they can turn for love, care, and support. And having witnessed this work firsthand in many different locations, I can attest that—contrary to the way they are sometimes portrayed in the media—these centers are amazing, life-giving places where young mothers and fathers are met with understanding and compassion. Because of the generosity of people who believe that every life matters, these centers are staffed by trained and competent professionals who put the love of Christ on display each day for those who don’t know where to turn, offering each person walking through their doors the resources and support they need at one of the most difficult moments in their lives. 

Seeing abortion access restricted would not mean the end of unplanned pregancies. Instead, pro-life advocates would need to be prepared to expand the critical work they are already doing. By God’s grace, we will see needs and opportunities multiply to love and serve our neighbors. More mothers will need support. More children will need care. More schools will need volunteers. More fathers will need mentors. These are just a few of the obvious reasons that pro-life work will last far beyond the end of Roe. As pro-life advocates—and especially as the people of God—we must be prepared for such a moment. 


There is, of course, no guarantee this will happen. It is known that Judge Barrett is personally opposed to abortion. And it is also apparent that the ideological makeup of the court would make it more favorably disposed toward such a legal challenge to abortion rights than it has been in decades. Still, neither Judge Barrett nor any of the current justices of the court have expressed any kind of commitment or intent to overturn Roe or restrict access to abortion. And we shouldn’t assume that they will.

Regardless of what happens, the work of the pro-life movement is critical. And it is not contingent on the legality of abortion. Roe v. Wade is the most tragic ruling in American history. Since 1973, more than 50 million children have been killed through abortion in United States. In response, millions of Americans have been galvanized to action to uphold the dignity of our unborn neighbors. Whether Roe is overturned or not, the work of the pro-life movement can and must go on.

Josh Wester

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. Read More by this Author

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