A Legislatively Pro-Life State in a Post-Roe Country
From ballot initiatives to on-the-ground work
David E. Prince
It rarely happens to me, but I could not speak. I just sat in a kind of stunned silence when I heard the news. Then, I felt like crying, which is also rare for me. My tears, however, were tears of joy. It should not be this way, but I was surprised that God had positively answered a prayer I had been praying for 32 years since I became a Christian. Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision with a 6-3 ruling. No longer is the purposeful destruction of life in the womb counted as a federally protected right.
I have been reminded in the ensuing days of many of the tireless heroes I have known who have been on the front lines, relentlessly fighting for the end of Roe. Most of these people are ordinary Americans from all walks of life, full of faith and hope. They are people whose compassion compels them to be champions for life, from womb to tomb. The coalition looks nothing like the cartoonish caricatures some on the cultural left attempt to make them out to be. Their chief weapons in this battle have been kindness, generosity, and persistence.
More recently, my thoughts have turned to the fact that our pro-life coalition, while rightly rejoicing in a significant victory, must not grow weary in well-doing (Gal. 6:9). The toppling of Roe did not make abortion illegal across the nation but rather turned the issue back to the states. There is work to be done—more work, not less—in every state across the nation in defending and caring for life.
What legislation is like in a more pro-life state
My state, Kentucky, faces a far different situation than my brothers and sisters in California. While our governor, Andy Beshear, is radically pro-abortion, the state is not. During statewide COVID lockdowns, the governor’s edict called for only life-saving medical procedures to be permitted, but he made an exception for the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the state’s only abortion clinic. Nevertheless, the Kentucky General Assembly preemptively passed a trigger law in 2019 to take effect immediately upon the overturning of Roe. The trigger law bans abortion in the state with an exception to save the life of the mother. Attorney General Daniel Cameron has clarified that he will enforce Kentucky’s pro-life laws. Kentucky was one of 13 states to pass post-Roe trigger laws.1https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/06/13-states-have-abortion-trigger-bans-heres-what-happens-when-roe-overturned
However, Kentucky is not a state free of pro-life concerns. In the recent November general elections, Kentuckians were asked to pass Constitutional Amendment 2.
The one-sentence amendment stated, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The amendment was already passed by the state legislature in November 2021.
Constitutional Amendment 2 was simply worded to prevent activist judges from “finding” a right to abortion in Kentucky’s Constitution and ensures that the state’s abortion policy will be set exclusively by the citizens of the Commonwealth and its elected representatives. The amendment would have ensured that the citizens of Kentucky would not be coerced into funding the destruction of babies’ lives in the womb.2https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article267183231.html Though the pro-life coalition in Kentucky advocated strongly for the bill, it failed to garner the support necessary. This demonstrates that end of Roe was but a new beginning for the work of the pro-life movement.
These legislative battles are strategically important in post-Roe America. No Christian should minimize their importance in the least. In our federal democratic republic, the sword is placed in each of our hands, and we must wield it faithfully to the glory of Christ. Nevertheless, with equal vehemence, we must assert that legislative battles are only a part of the story for the church in our post-Roe world. Our gaze must stretch from ballot initiatives all the way to the consummation of Christ’s kingdom.
Advocating for life made in God’s image
For Christians, our pro-life commitment is rooted in the fact that we are all made in the image of our Creator God. Any thought of life, for the Christian, should always prompt thoughts about eternal life. There is always more to the story for believers than any particular cultural moment. The truth is, the bulk of on-the-ground pro-lifers I have known throughout my life as a follower of Jesus have lived this reality. The power of the pro-life cause has been that most pro-lifers have not viewed their cultural opponents as enemies. I have known many people won to the pro-life cause because of how they were served and loved by someone they viewed as an enemy.
I will never forget when a woman came up to me after a morning church service and said, “I want to introduce you to my child. My child is only alive because of your church.” Then she told me about the day she headed to the abortion clinic where people were pleading with her to keep her baby and offering to pray for her. She said she screamed, “You do not care about this baby’s life! Just its birth!” Those people, members of the church I pastor, gave her money to get on her feet, paid for the baby’s needs, and helped her get a job.
You know what? I still do not know who the particular members of my church were that served and loved this confused and frightened woman. I do not know because they did not do it so that others would know. They did it because they love Christ and love the people made in his image. I do not know if that woman is a Christian today, but I do know she heard the gospel and has been shown love in Christ’s name. I also know that every time she sees her child she is reminded of that love.
I thank God for the fall of Roe, and I pray that my beloved state of Kentucky will become a state where abortion is unthinkable. We must continue to work on legislative measures that will end government-sponsored predation on women in moments of crisis and confusion by legally protecting something so egregiously wrong. But I also know this: regardless, there will still be confused and frightened women in Kentucky and around the nation facing a pregnancy who will need believers to show them the love of Christ.
Our fight against the deceitful culture of death will continue until that ancient serpent of old is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:2, 10). The Evil One has hated babies and sought their destruction since the first gospel promise that one born of woman will bring his demise (Genesis 3:15). Supreme courts matter, elected officials matter, but the Messiah and his church transcends all. The Church must understand that the pro-life movement did not begin in the 1960s; it began in the garden, and its ultimate victory is not in courts, but in a New Heavens and New Earth.