The Road to ROE50

A unified call to action for the pro-life movement

Elizabeth Graham

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, a momentous ruling which challenged a Texas statute that made it a crime to perform an abortion unless a woman’s life was in danger. The case was filed by an unmarried woman named “Jane Roe” who wanted to terminate her pregnancy. Ultimately, the court sided with Roe and eventually struck down the Texas law. 

The court claimed that the constitutional right to privacy is inclusive enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Tragically, Roe v. Wade has become known as the case that legalized abortion nationwide, making abortion services more accessible to women throughout the country.

January 22, 2023, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which is a significant moment for the pro-life movement. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission calls this moment in time “ROE50.”

My passion for pro-life advocacy 

My passion for pro-life advocacy and a holistic view of life stems from a series of personal experiences and coming to an understanding of God’s Word on this issue. I’ve considered myself pro-life for as long as I can remember, but watching my family and friends choose life and shaping my theological perspective while in seminary deeply influenced my perspective and fueled my desire to advocate for life. 

When I was in high school, a close friend confided in me that she was pregnant. To help me navigate this difficult situation, my mom took me to our local pregnancy center where I was given a pamphlet that discussed the ultimate reason we choose life for preborn babies: because they are made in the image of God. I was able to share this with my friend and continued to walk with her through her pregnancy. She was only 16, but her choice to give her baby life had a profound effect on my life. 

A few years later, a close family member, who was on a sports scholarship in college, also had an unplanned pregnancy. Her doctor encouraged her to abort her baby, saying it was likely the best option. She knew abortion was not something she was willing to consider, so she redirected her college plans and shifted her life to care for her baby. Several years later, I watched that family member have another conversation with the same doctor who suggested she abort another baby due to a genetic issue. 

I wish I had the time to tell you in detail the many other stories that influenced me—like participating in justice advocacy work, walking alongside a family member when she endured a miscarriage, hearing a friend’s adoption story, or being my grandfather’s co-medical power of attorney when he was in the final months of his life. The Lord has used all of those instances to shape my pro-life ethic and passion and move me to stand for life. 

Where we are today 

As I think about where the pro-life movement has been and where we are going, it’s important to take stock of where we are today. At present, the culture’s worldview continues to permeate every area of life, and, sadly, the church is not immune to its influence. Secular philosophies have redefined the value of life and created programming and education that not only teach a diminished view of life’s value, but desensitize society to a point where abortion is little more than a personal choice about “healthcare.” These philosophies have deeply embedded themselves in our terminology and education, training people to dissociate the actual life of a child from a decision they are making. Abortion becomes one of many options in the multitude of choices we have along life’s journey.

Today, the church needs to better understand and articulate what it means to be made in the image of God. We need to embrace and model this truth for the world, that every person, at every stage of life has intrinsic value and dignity because each one has been stamped with God’s image. We need what we think and believe to be shaped by the Word of God, not what we are taught in school or told to believe through other areas of culture. 

And we must stand for life. We must creatively and consistently proclaim that every life matters, every person is valuable, and that no one is expendable. The pro-life message is that, from womb to tomb, every person matters because every person bears the image of God. 

Where we are going 

In 2023, 50 years will have passed since Roe v. Wade made abortion a permanent fixture in American culture. Since then, tens of millions of preborn babies’ lives have been lost.1https://nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf This statistic haunts me daily. 

As an organization, the ERLC has been imagining what it could look like for the pro-life movement to develop a unified call to action ahead of this tragic milestone. We are beginning a journey that we call the Road to ROE50, which is a strategic window of opportunity to unify and accelerate effective strategies through pro-life work leading up to and following the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

As we begin this journey on the Road to ROE50, we want to raise awareness, inspire, educate, activate and mobilize the church as we work toward making abortion unthinkable in our generation. Here are a few ways we plan to achieve those goals: 

We believe this is a critical and pivotal time in the life of the American church. Everyone has a role to play and a way to participate in the Road to ROE50. We hope you will consider joining us on this journey.

Elizabeth Graham serves as CEO for Life Collective, Inc. Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband Richmond enjoy raising their two children in east Tennessee.

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