fbpx

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.

David E. Prince is the Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his role on the faculty, he is also the pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He is married to Judi and they have eight children. 

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