Life After Roe

Preparing for the future we’ve longed for

Josh Wester

The pro-life movement is built on hope. From funding adoptions to supporting crisis pregnancy centers to fighting legal battles, every aspect of pro-life work is fueled by hope. And not just hope in an abstract sense—but a specific and abiding belief that each step to advance the cause of human dignity could mean the difference between life and death. 

Likewise, the pro-life vision is fueled by a belief in a future where every human life, at every stage of life, is valued, respected, and fully protected by law. 

For almost 50 years, the pro-life coalition has fought tirelessly to see the demise of the single greatest impediment to this vision: Roe v. Wade. Though it’s no longer the primary legal precedent buttressing abortion, Roe has become synonymous with on-demand abortion in American life.1It is well known that the Supreme Court’s Roe decision legalized abortions in the first, and in many cases the second trimesters of pregnancy in the United States. Lesser known is the fact that in 1992 the Court issued a decision in another case involving abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe’s “essential holding” about a woman’s right to an abortion before viability and established a new basis from which to measure abortion restrictions known as the “undue burden” standard.  Understandably then, seeing the Supreme Court reverse Roe and related decisions on abortion has become a central aim of the pro-life agenda. To state it succinctly, an America after Roe is the future pro-lifers long for.

But are we prepared for this future?

What the end of Roe would mean

Asking the question almost seems silly. In a sense, the pro-life community has been anticipating the reversal of Roe since the decision was first handed down in 1973. And in the intervening years, that anticipation has only intensified. Those dedicated to the cause of life long for the day when elective abortion—that is, the purposeful destruction of innocent human life in the womb—no longer enjoys the protection of federal courts. Indeed, that day cannot come soon enough. But even so, there is another sense in which I fear even ardent pro-lifers remain ill-prepared. 

Should Roe fall, such a ruling would not make abortion illegal nationwide. Instead, it would merely revert the issue back to the states. And while I have no doubt that the legal dimension of the pro-life movement stands ready to continue the fight for life in the courtrooms and state legislatures across the country where elective abortions would still be legal, I am less certain about our movement’s readiness to meet the tremendous demands that would arise in those states where elective abortions would no longer be permissible.

Back in October, The New York Times estimated that the reversal of Roe would result in 22 states immediately blocking elective abortions.2https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/15/upshot/what-happens-if-roe-is-overturned.html Further, recent data from the Guttmacher Institute indicates that, by itself, the end of Roe would likely result in 100,000 less abortions taking place every year.3https://www.guttmacher.org/report/abortion-incidence-service-availability-us-2017 Those are staggering numbers to contemplate. They also represent a necessary corrective to those who insist the pro-life movement’s efforts to mount a legal challenge to Roe are misguided. In addition to stopping abortion in nearly half the Union, the end of Roe would mean the survival of 100,000 people.

Don’t miss the gravity of this: 100,000 people with DNA, bodies, and faces. One-hundred thousand future neighbors, friends, and co-workers. One-hundred thousand brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. One-hundred thousand people. One-hundred thousand children.

But this brings us back to the point about preparation. One-hundred thousand people is a massive number, and it is only one part of the story. Immediately, we recognize that this number represents roughly the same number of mothers facing unplanned or difficult pregnancies. And in many cases, it also represents fathers and families in crisis. Who will care for them? Who will step up to serve these families and meet their needs?

The pro-life movement is more mosaic than monolith. It is made up of countless men and women from diverse backgrounds, professions, and religions. And in all 50 states, members of this movement are working in various ways to create a culture of life by meeting the needs of women and families facing crisis pregnancies and those in need of other kinds of familial assistance. This work takes many different shapes, but among the most important is the essential care provided in local pregnancy resource centers spread throughout our nation. Whether you consider yourself to be pro-life or not, you should visit one of these centers. See for yourself the kind of life-altering love on display at each one of these special places. These centers not only save lives but change people’s futures, reshape their stories, and give them hope.

More work, more opportunities

But in seeking the end of Roe, the pro-life movement is not asking for a future with less work, but so much more. Should Roe fall, the practical fallout will likewise be massive. Scores of women and families who may otherwise have turned to abortion will turn instead to pregnancy resource centers, churches, and other religious organizations in their communities for assistance and support. Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies will see a spike in the number of children they’re caring for. Needs will increase across the board—for financial support, for volunteers, for clothes and other supplies, for adoptive and foster parents, and on and on.

In many ways, the true test of the pro-life movement will not be its fervent opposition to abortion but whether its commitment to the cause of life will sustain it through something as cataclysmic as the end of Roe. And the time to prepare is now. In our churches, are we teaching a gospel-infused pro-life, whole-life ethic that not only stands against abortion but for human dignity? In our legal efforts, are we prepared to advance not just policies to stop abortion but policies to promote human flourishing and assist mothers and families welcoming new life? Are pro-lifers prepared to serve more, give more, love more, and sacrifice more to prove that our beliefs are more than words? Are we truly prepared to stand for life?

With a freshly minted conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the end of Roe appears to be attainable for the first time in decades. Obviously, there is no guarantee. But the pro-life coalition cannot afford to be caught off guard. We have worked so long and fought so hard to see that day. Indeed, it is the vision that fuels our movement. But just as we hope for a future where all of our children are safe, we must also prepare for that future so that all may know the hope upon which our movement is built.

Let us, in the name of Christ, prepare to receive all who come with open arms. May we demonstrate his love, embrace those in need, and model for them the hope that lives within us.

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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