By / Jun 24

Through my work with Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, I have shared publicly what it’s like to be offered a medically necessary abortion at 25 weeks pregnant. And I have shared what it’s like to walk with my sister through her grief over an abortion she experienced alone.

I have had a specific vantage point to observe some of the many issues involved. The choice to abort never occurs in a vacuum, and if Christians want to have a true impact on the issue of abortion, we must carefully work to eliminate why abortion seems the best choice, not merely make it an illegal choice.

How local churches can respond

The Supreme Court handed down a monumental decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the disastrous precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. For the pro-life movement, this ruling is the culmination of nearly 50 years of focused work to overturn Roe and protect the unborn.

Our gospel witness demands we prepare to rise to this occasion as a watching world looks to see how churches will respond now that the laws they’ve so vocally called for and supported are becoming a reality.

The good news is there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The crisis pregnancy ministries that have worked tirelessly before now continue to be the boots on the ground. They are strategic partners for churches wanting to do more. Churches are uniquely capable and equipped to be able to help alleviate much of the reasons women believe abortion is the best option. With more churches now considering and looking to be a positive resource for women, there are several paths forward:

Expanding network currency. Churches wanting to be more involved in crisis pregnancy ministries can begin by partnering with established organizations in great need of more resources. This could mean financial support (which is sorely needed), but it could also mean helping connect the passions, interests, and skills of the church members. Although resources are not one-size-fits-all, most crisis pregnancy centers share a need for help with the following:

  • Mental health
  • Language and communication (especially bilingual skills)
  • Sewing skills (for blankets, socks, etc.)
  • Childcare opportunities (VBS/Parent’s night out/stay & plays could all be great resources for pregnancy centers to share with clients).
  • GED/ESL opportunities
  • Print supplies/office resources

Help make easier on-ramps to existing ministries. The problem is not a lack of resources; it is connecting the right resources with the people who need them. Churches are crucial ministry partners for many pregnancy centers. This is an opportunity for churches to strengthen their communication efforts with pregnancy ministries. It is especially helpful to provide welcoming points of entrance into the church beyond a Sunday morning service, which can be threatening and overwhelming to a woman facing a difficult situation. If your church has childcare nights, or evening sporting events, or other community/relationship-building events, those would be an ideal opportunity to invite people who are in need of community and Christ’s love right now.

Support the boots on the ground: Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”  Pray for your local pregnancy centers, and let them know. These ministries have been and will continue to serve, love, and minister to women and children, but they are also on the receiving end of much anger, misinformation, and hostility as the Dobbs case has worked its way through the legal system. Many of them are tired and in need of encouragement. While this case continues to attract national attention, our centers need our vocal prayer and support.

Some helpful guiding principles

Roe v. Wade has finally been overturned. As we move into a post-Roe world, the principles of Micah help point us in the right direction. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Act justly: As believers, we confidently stand behind the truth of the dignity and worth of the unborn. Throughout Scripture we see God’s calling upon his people to care for and protect the marginalized and the vulnerable. This calling to justice extends to the unborn. We care deeply about their protection and believe to act justly means to advocate for their dignity and rights.

Love kindness: There is plenty of space in Christianity for conviction and compassion. It is good to have conviction and passion for the vulnerable among us. But that should never stand apart from people who are hurting and also need compassion — to listen to their cries and needs — and follow the example of James 2 by showing our faith through our works. We must creatively pool resources to meet the moment of need in the mother’s life. The banning of abortion will not undo the host of issues that culminate in the choice to abort. A Christian response ought to be marked by true kindness.

Walk humbly: Pride is never a good look in the life of the believer. As we craft our responses and attitudes toward this issue, a haughty spirit over the victory against abortion is not the way forward. We celebrate truth and justice, but we also weep with those who weep. The celebration of progress within the pro-life cause should spur us on to love and good deeds. If the fruit of our celebration is the humiliation and pain of others, we have done it incorrectly. It is crucial to remember that while laws may help regulate and provide protection for the vulnerable, the causes which lead up to abortion will still be with us. In humility, we ought to ask God for wisdom on how to help end abortion by working to alleviate it as the seemingly better choice.

As we move forward into a post-Roe world, may God help us exemplify the truth and grace of Jesus and uphold the dignity of every life we encounter.

By / Mar 7

As anticipation builds for the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mississippi abortion case, many people might be wondering what they can do to make their states more pro-life. The Mississippi case is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the court to overturn the harmful precedents set in Roe and Casey and affirm the fundamental right to life. 

In December 2021, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reviewing a Mississippi law titled the “Gestational Age Act” that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, except in a medical emergency and in cases of severe fetal abnormality. This law replaces the ‘viability standard’ created by Roe. The court is examining whether pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. 

Even if the Supreme Court overturns the disastrous precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion would not become illegal overnight. Instead, each state would then be free to set their own laws banning or allowing abortion. Rather than marking the end of the pro-life movement, this decision would launch a new chapter as advocates turn their attention to protecting life in statehouses across the country and stopping the proliferation of chemical abortions.

There are three possible outcomes in this decisions:

  1. The court could reaffirm the precedents in Roe and Casey. This scenario is very unlikely, because the court likely wouldn’t agree to hear such a monumental case, and do nothing. 
  2. The court could issue a narrow ruling, like moving the viability line, or something like that. 
  3. The precedents in Roe and Casey would be overturned, and abortion would be sent back to the states. We are certainly hopeful this will happen.

If decided favorably, this case would potentially expand protections for children in the early stages of gestational development. Abortions would not cease overnight, but the issue would be sent back to the states. We anticipate a decision in this important case at the end of the term in June. In the meantime, states ought to begin thinking about how to protect the most vulnerable and their mothers.

Helping make your state more pro-life

If Roe is overturned, an estimated 26 states (including Mississippi) will implement complete bans on abortion. And an estimated 15 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws that would automatically keep abortion legal. There are other states that will have some protections, but there’s room to pass policies that protect the preborn in the womb and their mothers.

There are a number of ways you can work to make your state more pro-life. You can begin by researching what your existing state laws are and how they protect life. There’s likely an existing coalition of pro-life leaders and ministries in your state. It would be beneficial to begin developing relationships with them and learn about opportunities to get plugged in and serve your local communities.

Below are a few suggestions for how to make your state more pro-life from a policy perspective. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s meant to serve as a starting point as you brainstorm and pray about ways to protect the most vulnerable in your state.

State constitution: You can work on amending your state constitution to protect the most vulnerable among us — the preborn. For example, Tennessee’s state constitution has a section that says: 

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

Abortion pill restriction: Abortion pills or chemical abortions are now the most common method of ending a pregnancy in the United States for the first time since they were approved more than two decades ago. The most recent data states that the two-dosage abortion pills accounted for 54% of abortions in 2020, up 39% in 2017, the last time the report was released.

Mifepristone is the first part of the two-drug chemical abortion process. It blocks progesterone, a hormone that nurtures the developing child throughout the pregnancy. It is prescribed in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, which forces the uterus to contract and expel the unborn baby. 

Pregnant mothers need to be screened in person for contraindications like an ectopic pregnancy and the age of their baby to prevent life-threatening complications. Allowing these drugs to be dispensed without physician oversight makes it easier for the drug to fall into the hands of abusers who may give them to pregnant women without their knowledge and consent.

Almost half of U.S. states have banned or tightly restricted abortion pills, and more could follow suit.

State born-alive bills: 18 states have robust born-alive protections which are reflected in the federal Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. While there are 36 states that have some type of born-alive law, more states need robust protections for those who survive an attempted abortion.

Child welfare laws: One of the sad realities of a potentially post-Roe world is there will likely be more children who will enter into the foster care system. Each state’s child welfare laws are slightly different, but you can get involved in advocating for policies that protect vulnerable children. The church and Christians have an incredible opportunity to stand in the gap for vulnerable children and help advocate for policies that help them find safe, permanent, and loving homes.

Depending on how the Dobbs case is decided, there might be opportunity to work on a variety of other types of legislation, but these ideas are an excellent starting point for getting involved in your local community.

If abortion becomes illegal in many states, many more vulnerable women and their preborn babies will need help and support. Christians must be ready to stand in the gap and provide love and care. Together, we must work toward a day when abortion is not only illegal but also unthinkable. Southern Baptists have long pleaded the case for America to recognize the inherent dignity of our most vulnerable neighbors because Scripture tells us that every single life has innate dignity, worth, and value.

By / Mar 3

“Roe v. Wade” or “Roe”  are terms often heard in the abortion debate. Sometimes this language has been used even as a synonym for abortion itself, but despite its immediate name recognition, many do not actually know what was decided in Roe v. Wade and how that has affected the right to life in our country. So, what is Roe v. Wade?

Roe’s history in the U.S.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, abortion was illegal in most states with a few restrictively allowing the procedure in certain circumstances. In 1971, the Supreme Court decided its first case dealing with abortion in United States v. Vuitch. In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a law that permitted abortion to save the woman’s life or health. This ruling led to an expanded definition of women’s health that included both physical and psychological well-being. 

Following this ruling, 17 other challenges to abortion laws made their way to the Supreme Court, including the landmark Roe v. Wade case. Roe challenged a Texas law that prohibited all abortions except for those deemed “lifesaving.” The Supreme Court ultimately invalidated this law, declaring that the right to privacy enveloped a woman’s decision to continue or terminate her pregnancy and that the state could not interfere with the woman’s decision unless it had a compelling enough interest to override this right to privacy. The court drew that line of compelling interest through the viability standard. 

The viability standard

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court admitted that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn human life but concluded that that interest did not become compelling until viability, because at that point the unborn child “has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.”

However, the choice of viability as the point before which a state may not forbid abortion is entirely arbitrary. Even the author of Roe and two authors of Planned Parenthood v. Casey’s three-justice plurality have admitted this. When the “viability standard” was initially created in 1973, viability was around 28 weeks, but it is now around 21 weeks. The viability line will keep moving as our modern medicine continues to improve. No Supreme Court decision has ever provided a principled justification for the viability standard. 

What’s happened since Roe?

The disastrous Roe v. Wade decision established a national, legal right to abortion, regardless of each state’s laws or desires. This moment marked the birth of the modern pro-life movement that has worked tirelessly for 49 years to protect the lives of the unborn and to educate the public on both the scientific and legal reasons that Roe and the viability standard were wrongly decided. 

States throughout the country have brought a multitude of legal challenges and have created a patchwork across the country of various restrictions and protections for abortion. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court is currently deciding a case that directly challenges Roe and its follow-up case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Oral arguments were held on this case in December 2021 and a decision is anticipated in June 2022. The pro-life community is hopeful that after nearly 50 years as a stain on our national conscience, Roe v. Wade will be overturned and the question of abortion will be returned to the states. 

By / Mar 2

As anticipation builds and news coverage increases, both sides of the abortion debate are sounding the alarm that the recognized right to life in our country could be drastically changed as the Supreme Court reconsiders the harmful “viability standard” set in Roe v. Wade and affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This challenge to the existing law comes from a Mississippi abortion case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

The Dobbs case is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to affirm life, shift abortion jurisprudence, and send the question of abortion back to the states. For the pro-life movement, this Mississippi abortion case could be the culmination of nearly 50 years of focused work to overturn Roe and protect the unborn. 

What is the Mississippi abortion case about?

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court is reviewing a Mississippi law titled the “Gestational Age Act” that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, except in a medical emergency and in cases of severe fetal abnormality. This law replaces the ‘viability standard’ created by Roe. The court is examining whether pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. 

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court admitted that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn human life, but concluded that that interest did not become compelling until viability, because at that point the unborn child “has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.” However, the choice of viability as the point before which a state may not forbid abortion is entirely arbitrary. Even the author of Roe and two authors of Casey’s three-justice plurality have admitted this. When the “viability standard” was initially created in 1973, viability was around 28 weeks, but it is now around 21 weeks. The viability line will keep moving as our modern medicine continues to improve. No Supreme Court decision has ever provided a principled justification for the viability standard.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1, 2021. Now that oral arguments are completed, the court will spend the next few months researching and deliberating about this case. The final decision on what could be a watershed case in American jurisprudence will likely come at the end of next June as the court closes its term. 

Why is the viability standard so important?

The viability standard creates two classes of unborn children — those who are legally protected after viability, and those who aren’t. The Constitution does not create a right to an abortion of an unborn child before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy. The U.S. is one of only seven nations across the globe that allow abortion for any reason after 20 weeks’ gestation. With each passing day, especially in light of our technological age and the use of the ultrasound, more and more people recognize preborn lives are worthy of protection.

Why is this case important? 

This Mississippi abortion case provides another chance for the court to come to that same conclusion and affirm the fundamental right to life. Even if the Supreme Court overturns the disastrous precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion would not become illegal overnight. Instead, each state would then be free to set their own laws banning or allowing abortion. If Roe is overturned, an estimated 26 states will implement complete bans on abortion. This decision, rather than marking the end of the pro-life movement, will instead launch a new chapter as advocates turn their attention to protecting life in statehouses across the country and stopping the proliferation of chemical abortions.

If abortion becomes illegal in many states, many more vulnerable women and their preborn babies will need help and support. Christians must be ready to stand in the gap and provide love and care. Together, we must work toward a day when abortion is not only illegal but also unthinkable. Southern Baptists have long pleaded the case for America to recognize the inherent dignity of our most vulnerable neighbors, because Scripture tells us that every single life has innate dignity, worth, and value.

By / Feb 15

Richard Land served as the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission from 1988–2013. Prior to his time at the ERLC, he worked in a variety of church and political roles, many of which were involved closely with the modern pro-life movement in its earliest days. Below, he shares his experiences and brings perspective to the current cultural moment, the story of Southern Baptist involvement in the fight against abortion, and what comes next. 

Jill Waggoner: Historians have noted that before Roe v. Wade, evangelicals in general were fairly inactive on the issue of abortion. Is that true for Southern Baptists? If so, how did that change after Roe? What did it take to change Southern Baptists’ mind on this issue? 

Richard Land: I was pro-life from the time I was a junior in high school because of an experience I had with a high school biology project. One of my classmate’s fathers was an OB-GYN, and she, as part of a project, brought to class what I now know to be about a 12- to 14-week-old male embryo. It was clearly a human being. That sensitized me to the issue. 

Abortion wasn’t much of an issue for Southern Baptists until Roe v. Wade. Prior to 1970, the broad attitude was that the life issue was a “Catholic issue.” There were a lot of prominent pastors who followed the teachings of Dr. W. O. Vaught at the time, and I think he influenced Dr. W. A. Criswell. They believed life began when God put breath into the body of Adam, and so they took the interpretation that personhood begins when you begin to breathe. So that alleviated them having to deal with abortion. 

The real shift came in the aftermath of Roe. I was a foot soldier in the pro-life army back in the mid-1970’s, organizing pro-life groups in churches when I was in Texas working at Criswell College. And I saw [the shift] happen. It was [a result of] the revulsion over the bloodshed. I don’t think even the pro-choice people thought that abortions would jump they way they did once Roe was made the law of the land. That, and the amazing advances of embryology and sonograms — we knew a whole lot more about human development. I saw a ground shift among Southern Baptists. 

At the time, the Christian Life Commission (the precursor to the ERLC) staff, including President Foy Valentine, was all pro-choice, as was James Wood and James Dunn at the Baptist Joint Committee. Paul D. Simmons, who was radically pro-choice, was teaching ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. That’s when we got the 1971 pro-choice SBC resolution

I was part of Southern Baptists for Life. It was clear by the mid-to-late 1970’s that Southern Baptists had been awakened on the issue, and the majority of rank-and-file Southern Baptists were dissatisfied with the official position of the Convention, which was the resolution. 

The CLC staff opposed the 1982 resolution. They tried to amend it to make it more pro-choice, and they tried to put other exceptions in there besides the life of the mother. We had been pushing hard to get a Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on the denominational calendar. The CLC staff came into the subcommittee meetings of the Executive Committee and tried to stop it. And then when they realized they couldn’t stop it, they tried to get it moved to another part of the year, away from January and away from abortion. Eventually, CLC President Larry Baker resigned.

In defense of the generation before me, a lot of their aversion to engaging the issue, as I mentioned above, was that they saw abortion as a “Catholic issue.” They were dealing with the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, which was not nearly as in favor of religious freedom and who didn’t believe that Protestants were Christians. The kind of cooperation you see now between evangelicals and Catholics on the life issue wouldn’t have been possible without Vatican II. 

JW: The resolution that you have mentioned that was passed at the 1971 Annual Meeting in St. Louis called on Southern Baptists “to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” How should we understand that moment? 

RL: It came about in 1971 because some states were making their abortion laws more liberal, as part the feminist movement. To me, there’s nothing more anti-woman than abortion, as the majority of babies aborted are female. Southern Baptists were beginning to think about the issue, and the pro-life movment was beginning to make headway into SBC life. The CLC wanted to head it off at the pass. They used that resolution to support the Roe. v. Wade decision. They were anticipating the liberalization of abortion laws. They would file amicus briefs with this resolution as an attachment. 

JW: Looking at more recent history, what has been an encouragement to you about the work of pro-life advocacy within the SBC and evangelicals more generally? 

RL: The most encouraging thing to me has been to go the pro-life marches or to to watch them on television and to see that the crowd gets younger and younger every year.

I​​ remember going to a demonstration in my hometown of Houston, Texas, against the largest abortion clinic outside of China. The people gathered there were young and they were holding up signs that said, “We survived Roe. Roe won’t survive us.” They had a very palpable sense that they could have been killed. Approximately one-fourth to one-third of babies conceived the year they were born were killed. They take it personally.

In addition, that at least one political party has remained true to its pro-file commitments has been encouraging. I long for the day when both parties are pro-life, which will change voting patterns.

In 1980, Republicans adopted the pro-life platform and nominated Ronald Reagan. Let me give you some of the impact of that. In 1976, the majority of White Baptists voted for Jimmy Carter. When he ran against Reagan, the majority of White Baptists voted for Reagan. There have been pro-choice people who have tried to run in Republican primaries that haven’t been successful. The unfortunate fact is that you could not be pro-life and get the nomination of the Democratic Party. There was a whole generation of Democrats who were pro-life and became pro-choice because they wanted to be nominated for president: Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Richard Gephardt. I wish it were otherwise, but I don’t see it changing in my lifetime.

JW: Looking ahead, what do you think is the next place for Southern Baptists to be concentrating their pro-life efforts, especially in a world where Roe may be overturned with the recent Supreme Court Case out of Mississippi?

RL: If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, that doesn’t solve the issue. That just puts it into more of the political process. It’s going to be a titanic struggle for hearts and minds. 

The ERLC has two responsibilities. First, the ERLC is to be the conscience of the Convention to call them to be where we believe they ought to be on moral issues and, in that regard, we call Southern Baptists to oppose abortion except to save the physical life of mother. The second responsibility is to represent Southern Baptist views to the Congress, to the president, to the Supreme Court, and to men. There we have to be as accurate as possible — descriptive, not prophetic. Southern Baptsits are broadly pro-life, but there disagreements on some of the troublesome exceptions.

JW: Gathering all your knowledge and experience, what do you think is going to come next? What are the next 20 years going to look like?

RL: I think Southern Baptists are going to remain pro-life. They understand that God is not a Republican or a Democrat, but he is pro-life. There was a reason that Jews were the only people in the Mediteranean basin who didn’t practice infanticide. Their God, the one true God, had made it clear in the Scriptures that he’s involved whenever conception takes place. 

I recently read the testimonies of women in The New York Times about the impact of their abortions. What I would love to do is put a question mark beside their photo to say, “This is who their son or daughter would have become.” They ignore the fact that we’re talking about killing a human being. I think it is a symptom of the fact that our country has increasingly gone down the road of narcissism, which leads to self-adulation and self-idolatry. 

Public policy is never static. The situation is either going to get a lot better or a lot worse. Pope John Paul II was right when he talked about a “culture of death.” Because of legalized abortion-on-demand, we have seen the “culture of death” go from the womb to nursing home, to the ICU and to the nursery. Now we have states passing laws that say it’s okay to kill a baby up until the time it is born. What’s next? If a baby is just a collection of cells or an advanced mammal, then what stops people from killing a baby after he or she is born, because of a deformity? If you believe that every human life is sacred, you’re going to contest that with everything you’ve got. Either we get more pro-life or we descend into more death. 

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity. 

By / Jan 3

According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute,1https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide# around 119 million unplanned pregnancies occurred each year between 2015 and 2019. Of those pregnancies, around 61%, or 73 million, ended in abortion.2https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide# These numbers represent 73 million precious lives lovingly created in the image of God. The fight to save preborn lives like these and see an end to the atrocity of abortion continues around the world, even as several countries are moving to legalize abortion for the first time. 

In the fall of 2021, three ERLC staff members traveled to Northern Ireland to deliver a life-saving ultrasound machine to one of the country’s only pregnancy resource centers, an effort made possible by the Psalm 139 Project.3https://psalm139project.org/ While abortion was legalized in Great Britain in the 1967 Abortion Act,this law was not extended to Northern Ireland.4https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-abortion-act-in-the-u-k-challenged-but-upheld-by-the-high-court/ Abortions were only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life was at risk or her physical or mental health were greatly endangered.5https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-erlc-expands-pro-life-work-to-northern-ireland/ However, a vote in Parliament in October 2019 decriminalized abortion in the area for the first time. Now, ongoing disagreement has stalled the full roll-out of abortion services, but it is a matter of time before it is widely available in Northern Ireland. 

Like Northern Ireland, other countries around the world are seeing abortion legalized for the first time, even as efforts to end abortion in the United States are growing. Here is an overview of some of the countries making moves on both sides of the abortion debate. 

Countries legalizing abortion 

Mexico 

In September 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that prosecuting a woman for abortion is unconstitutional, a decision that serves to practically legalize abortion. Ruling on a law from Coahuila, a state on the Texas border, the court’s decision immediately affects only that state, but it establishes a legal precedent for other judges throughout the country. In light of the decision, court President Arturo Zaldívar stated, “From now on you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria and the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid.” Those circumstances are expected to include abortions carried out within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy.6https://apnews.com/article/health-mexico-courts-mexico-city-6de599fc7b9352608a9da86f2ccda0f6

This is a landmark decision for a country that is largely Catholic and has traditionally held strong opposition to abortion. While Texas has greatly tightened restrictions on abortion, this decision could open the door for women in Texas to seek legal abortions along the border shared with Mexico.7https://apnews.com/article/health-mexico-courts-mexico-city-6de599fc7b9352608a9da86f2ccda0f6 Women already cross the border to obtain the abortion pill misoprostol from Mexican pharmacies.8https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/the-abortion-pill-can-now-be-obtained-without-an-in-person-visit/ This decision could increase access to surgical abortion as well.

Argentina

Mexico follows in the footsteps of Argentina, another largely Catholic country, which passed a bill in December of 2020 to decriminalize abortion at up to 14 weeks of pregnancy for any reason.9https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/argentina-could-legaliz This makes Argentina the largest country in Latin America to legalize abortion. 

In 2018, Pope Francis, a native of Buenos Aires, was quoted as saying about abortion, “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.”10https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/pope-abortion-is-white-glove-equivalent-to-nazi-crimes-20180617-p4zlxu.html In his recent comments to the U.N., Francis decried the view many hold of abortion as a solution to society’s complex problems, saying, “It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.”11https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/in-un-message-pope-francis-decries-abortion-and-family-breakdown-91621

Pro-abortion sentiment had previously been on the rise in Argentina, increasing in 2019 partly due to public outrage over the case of an 11-year-old who received a Caesarean section after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner. The girl and her mother sought an abortion, but questions about guardianship rights stalled the process until she delivered a baby by C-section at 23 weeks. Abortion rights activists rallied around this situation, mobilizing to increase public demand for legalization.12https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/argentina-could-legalize-abortion-soon/

The decision in Argentina has set the stage for other South American nations to rethink their policies on abortion. Chile has voted to debate a bill to legalize abortion up to 14 weeks, while Honduras responded by adding their abortion ban to the country’s constitution, in effect putting a lock on the ban.13https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/28/chile-takes-first-step-towards-decriminalising-abortion; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/7/honduras-hardened-abortion-ban-these-women-remain-undeterred

South Korea

Abortion was decriminalized in January of 2021, enacting an April 2019 decision by the Constitutional Court. The decision ruled that the law holding women and medical professionals seeking or providing abortions criminally accountable was unconstitutional. Under the new law, abortion is legal on demand until 14 weeks, at which point it becomes illegal except in the case of rape, risk to the health of the mother, or if the preborn child shows signs of severe abnormalities. In such cases, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks. The law also allows for use of the abortion pill mifepristone. 

While abortion is now legal in South Korea, there are no laws guaranteeing the right to access an abortion, but pro-choice advocates seek such protections in the country.14https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-abortion/south-korea-proposes-compromise-abortion-law-after-landmark-court-ruling-idUSKBN26S1H4

Thailand

In January of 2021, Thailand’s Parliament voted to legalize abortion in the first trimester, with the Senate voting 166 to 7 in favor of amending a law that imposed prison terms of up to three years for those having abortions and up to five years for abortion providers.15https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/world/asia/thailand-abortion-rights.html After 12 weeks of pregnancy, however, a woman having an abortion is still subject to potential fines and a shorter prison sentence. There is an allowance for abortion after 12 weeks under certain conditions that have been determined by Thailand’s Medical Council. These conditions include pregnancies that result from sexual assault or pose a threat to the mother’s health, or those in which the preborn child is known to have abnormalities.

Benin

In October of 2021, Benin’s parliament voted to further legalize abortion in the West African country where it was already permissible in cases of rape, incest, or threatened the life of the mother.16https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/21/benins-parliament-votes-to-legalise-abortion Now, abortion is legal up to 12 weeks if the pregnancy is likely to “aggravate or cause material, educational, professional or moral distress, incompatible with the woman or the unborn child’s interest.”

Minister of Health Benjamin Hounkpatin praised the measure in a statement, citing statistics that nearly 200 women die in Benin each year due to abortion complications. “This measure will be a relief for many women who face undesired pregnancies, and are forced to put their lives in danger with botched abortions,” said Hounkpatin. This new law will also give abortion access to women in neighboring West African nations where abortion is still illegal.

Countries working to reverse legalization

Poland

In October of 2020, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal decided in favor of increasing restrictions on abortion, a law which went into effect in January of 2021.17https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/world/europe/poland-abortion-law.html Previously, abortion in Poland was legal in the case of fetal abnormalities, pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger. This law takes away the legal option to abort in cases of fetal abnormalities. Critics have seen the decision as a means of practically doing away with abortion in the country, since 1,074 of 1,100 abortions performed in Poland in 2020 were because of fetal abnormalities.

Slovakia

Poland’s neighbor Slovakia saw a motion to tighten abortion rules narrowly defeated in a vote of 59 to 58 in October 2020.18https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slovakia-abortions/slovak-parliament-narrowly-rejects-tightening-of-abortion-rules-idUSKBN2752MV While the measure would have continued to allow abortion on demand until 12 weeks, it would have required the waiting period to be 96 hours instead of the current 48-hour requirement. It would also have banned clinics from advertising their services and required women to declare their reasons for obtaining an abortion. Activists in Slovakia and Poland pushed back against the measure. Many Polish women seek abortions in Slovakia because the restrictions are much lower than at home. 

The proponents of the proposal, many of whom are Christians, have said they will try again to see it passed.

United States

Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization, has called 2021 the “worst legislative year ever for U.S. abortion rights.”19https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/07/state-policy-trends-midyear-2021-already-worst-legislative-year-ever-us-abortion In the first six months of 2021, 90 abortion restrictions were enacted in the U.S., more than in any year since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. These restrictions include near-total abortion bans, bans on abortion after six weeks, bans on abortion in cases of fetal abnormality, and others.

On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court heard a case—Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—concerning a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks.20https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-supreme-court-takes-up-dobbs-v-jackson-womens-health-organization/ Mississippi’s law has never gone into effect due to lower courts ruling that the law violates Roe. Now, Mississippi is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the two landmark rulings legalizing access to abortion in the U.S. 

The Texas Heartbeat Act is also undergoing challenges in several cases. The Heartbeat Act bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. At least 10 other states have passed fetal heartbeat abortion bans, but they have all been blocked by courts. Between 85 and 90% of abortions in Texas take place after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, and in the month after the bill was enacted, abortion rates dropped by half.21https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/10/29/upshot/texas-abortion-data.html Experts expect them to continue to decline.

In October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center regarding the ability of Kentucky’s attorney general to intervene to defend the state’s dismemberment abortion law.22https://mcusercontent.com/5491bb946fa61ebd06c22e7a5/files/0c248679-c030-63a7-8600-cf4799d88f41/Life_Litigation_Report_Oct._2021.01.pdf?mc_cid=5194c3200c&mc_eid=fb4914b0d5 Many other states have passed bills with similar intervention clauses, giving this case the potential to affect the laws in other states. 

Pray and work on the behalf of the vulnerable

As those who believe every human life is precious and made in the image of God, we should mourn the legalization of abortion in countries around the world and pray fervently. Here are some specific ways we can ask God to intervene:

Pray for women living in countries where abortion access has been granted or expanded. 

Pray that the light of the gospel would break through and that they would see Jesus as their hope, rather than an abortion procedure that will end one life and devastate another. Pray for Christians in these countries to be bold in love and to come alongside those experiencing unplanned pregnancies or vulnerable to an unplanned pregnancy.

Pray for countries seeking stricter laws against abortion. 

Pray that God would grant them wisdom and turn hearts toward life. Pray that many lives would be saved as a result of these laws passing. Pray for women in these countries who are fearful that their choice to terminate a pregnancy might be taken away. Pray that they would see a future and a hope in Christ and find help in his people. 

Pray for the United States Supreme Court justices as they decide the Dobbs case. 

Pray for wisdom and insight. Pray that the horrors of legalized abortion in America would end and that the church would rise up to care for those who find themselves in difficult situations with nowhere else to turn.

While we pray, we should also continue to work in our local communities to see that abortion-vulnerable women are given the care they need. If Roe is overturned here in the U.S., there will be an even greater need for Christians to walk alongside women in crisis, being the hands and feet of Jesus to those whom he created and loves. As we eagerly anticipate and pray for that day, let’s labor to protect every preborn life possible and intentionally serve families so that abortion becomes unthinkable.

  • 1
    https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide#
  • 2
    https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide#
  • 3
    https://psalm139project.org/
  • 4
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-abortion-act-in-the-u-k-challenged-but-upheld-by-the-high-court/
  • 5
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-erlc-expands-pro-life-work-to-northern-ireland/
  • 6
    https://apnews.com/article/health-mexico-courts-mexico-city-6de599fc7b9352608a9da86f2ccda0f6
  • 7
    https://apnews.com/article/health-mexico-courts-mexico-city-6de599fc7b9352608a9da86f2ccda0f6
  • 8
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/the-abortion-pill-can-now-be-obtained-without-an-in-person-visit/
  • 9
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/argentina-could-legaliz
  • 10
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/pope-abortion-is-white-glove-equivalent-to-nazi-crimes-20180617-p4zlxu.html
  • 11
    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/in-un-message-pope-francis-decries-abortion-and-family-breakdown-91621
  • 12
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/argentina-could-legalize-abortion-soon/
  • 13
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/28/chile-takes-first-step-towards-decriminalising-abortion; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/7/honduras-hardened-abortion-ban-these-women-remain-undeterred
  • 14
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-abortion/south-korea-proposes-compromise-abortion-law-after-landmark-court-ruling-idUSKBN26S1H4
  • 15
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/world/asia/thailand-abortion-rights.html
  • 16
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/21/benins-parliament-votes-to-legalise-abortion
  • 17
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/world/europe/poland-abortion-law.html
  • 18
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slovakia-abortions/slovak-parliament-narrowly-rejects-tightening-of-abortion-rules-idUSKBN2752MV
  • 19
    https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/07/state-policy-trends-midyear-2021-already-worst-legislative-year-ever-us-abortion
  • 20
    https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/explainer-supreme-court-takes-up-dobbs-v-jackson-womens-health-organization/
  • 21
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/10/29/upshot/texas-abortion-data.html
  • 22
    https://mcusercontent.com/5491bb946fa61ebd06c22e7a5/files/0c248679-c030-63a7-8600-cf4799d88f41/Life_Litigation_Report_Oct._2021.01.pdf?mc_cid=5194c3200c&mc_eid=fb4914b0d5
By / Dec 22

Standing for life has always been a core part of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. 

The Psalm 139 Project is our most tangible life initiative, designed to make people aware of the life-saving potential of ultrasound technology in crisis pregnancy situations and to provide pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment and training as they minister to abortion-vulnerable women. 

Since the inception of the Psalm 139 Project, we have placed 30 machines, and we are already well on our way to our goal of placing 50 ultrasound machines by January 2023 — the moment marking 50 years since the disastrous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was handed down.

During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2021, the Psalm 139 Project was the focal point of our booth in the Exhibition Hall. We were able to bring the same ultrasound machines, approved through an extensive vetting process, that we place in health clinics. Our manufacturing partner even sent a representative to our exhibit to demonstrate both a 3D ultrasound machine and a mobile ultrasound machine. This allowed messengers and other attendees at SBC to experience what women see on the machines when viewing their child for the first time. Studies show — and our own clinics’ data proves — women in crisis pregnancy centers are far more likely to choose life when they see their baby on an ultrasound machine. That result is why we believe so deeply in the work of the Psalm 139 Project. 

People visiting our booth at SBC were not only able to see an ultrasound machine but were encouraged to offer a message of hope and encouragement directly to a woman in a crisis pregnancy situation through the use of handwritten notes. Over 1,500 people stopped by our booth to write touching messages that will be given to women in pregnancy resource centers where we place ultrasound machines.

The motivation behind our life work comes from the gospel. In fact, one of the most effective ways we appeal to consciences is by explaining the imago Dei and the inherent worth that truth gives to every preborn child. We do this both here at home and abroad.

In 2019, we announced our intentions to place the first-ever privately controlled ultrasound machine in Northern Ireland –– a region in the United Kingdom that has been one of the most pro-life areas in the world –– after an effort was made by their national government to decriminalize abortion services. 

After being delayed by COVID-19 restrictions, the Psalm 139 Project placed its first international ultrasound machine in October 2021 with Hope House, a Christian ministry seeking to love both lives of the mother and baby in pregnancy and beyond. A group from the ERLC, including Elizabeth Graham, ERLC vice president of operations and life initiatives, personally delivered the ultrasound machine to Hope House to begin training their staff for this life-saving work. 

Similarly, we have sought to draw attention to other contexts where the abortion industry is gaining ground. For example, we pointed out Argentina has become the first Latin American country to legalize abortion. President Fernández, in explaining his support for the law, referred to abortion as a mere “interruption” of a pregnancy –– an appallingly simple description of ending a child’s life. 

Catherine Parks, in an article for the ERLC, states it well, “​​There is nothing caring about telling a woman in a difficult situation that ending her child’s life is the way to ensure her survival and that of any other children she may have. We must seek to protect life at every stage.”

As we look ahead to 2022 and then to the 50 year anniversary of Roe, we are more committed than ever to standing for life. And that means, by God’s grace, seeking to save preborn lives, caring for vulnerable mothers, and proclaiming in the public square the unswerving proclamation of the dignity of life found in God’s Word. 


Pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are often the only thing standing between a vulnerable woman and an abortion. Thanks to your support and the ongoing generosity of Southern Baptists, the ERLC is able to place lifesaving ultrasound machines in PRCs, which allow them to serve vulnerable women who would otherwise go to Planned Parenthood. We’ve already placed 25 lifesaving machines, and we’re working to place 25 more by January 2023.

Will you help us reach our goal of placing 25 more machines in the next year? Requests for these lifesaving machines continue to pour in from around the country, and our team can’t keep up without your help.

Click here to learn how you can partner with us in this work.

By / Dec 6

“The unwanted child.”

This disturbing phrase reverberates in one’s conscience after reading the U.S. Supreme Court opinion from the 1973 case, Roe v. Wade. Justice Harry Blackmun authored the opinion that seems more like a creative writing piece than a decision rooted in the American Constitution. If some legal analysts criticize judges for “legislating from the bench,” then Roe represents the creation, passage and implementation of a whole new frontier of law sans any legislative input.

As a consequence, Justice Blackmun laid the foundation for the modern abortion architecture we see around us in society to this day. The language and rationale he wielded has led to an unmitigated moral disaster: over 60 million preborn lives extinguished, vulnerable women and families preyed upon by predatory abortion clinics, and whole communities targeted by an unrelenting abortion industry.

With the oral arguments presented before the court last week in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the nine current justices have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revisit Blackmun’s catastrophic opinion, as well as that of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). The court should not hesitate to completely do away with it –– assigning it the same place in infamy alongside such morally repugnant decisions as Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857, regarding the constitutionality of citizenship for African-Americans) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896, creating the doctrine of “separate but equal”). In much the same way, the court can correct the grave mistakes of its past in ways that should hearten not only pro-life Americans, but all Americans.

What the court can correct 

For starters, the court could help begin to set aright what it damaged with the Roe ruling: the relationship between mothers and their children. As Christians who recognize the Genesis 3 reality in which we live, we understand nothing short of Christ’s return will truly repair the brokenness that affects our relationships in a fallen world, but we should not fail to recognize the ways Blackmun’s opinion did harm here. His reasoning essentially created a legal permission structure that pitted mothers against their children. Because of this, countless mothers have been sold the lie by the abortion industry that their lives will be burdened, less rich and rewarding, and, ultimately, less satisfying with a child in the picture. By overruling Roe and Casey, we can save a new generation of families from enduring these awful and false narratives.

In addition, the court would be taking a necessary step toward establishing a legal environment that views life as something to be protected, not discarded. Numerous experts agree that a favorable decision in Dobbs could return the question of abortion to the states where, it is estimated, upward of half the Union stands to affirm a range of prolife protections for preborn children. In some states, there will be an almost overnight effect that moves their legal posture from a culture of death to one of life.

Finally, the right opinion in this case could comport with the very best of America’s ideals. A number of citizens believe that, at its essence, America is synonymous with freedom. Whether one fully agrees with that statement or not, it is undeniable that our nation has played a role in expanding the definition of freedom around the globe. Even in our current moment, we are having a national conversation about the implications of that term for every individual. Yet it shouldn’t be lost on us that as we have this dialogue, our culture continues to steamroll the lives of millions of the tiniest individuals in our society each year. That cannot continue. The Dobbs case affords our nation a moment when we can finally decide to be consistent and loudly declare that the blessings of America’s “new birth of freedom” extend to born and preborn alike.

The reality is, it is past time for the court to dismantle the disastrous reasoning posited by Blackmun nearly 50 years ago. By affirming his words, the court robbed generations of preborn children of their dignity, an atrocity that must be rectified. And while that will go a long way toward correcting the errors of the past made by the state, it is up to Christians to realize such a decision, as momentous as it would be, is not the end of the challenge before us. In fact, it will represent the starting point for a new prolife generation. For all the good that a favorable court decision would do, there will still be mothers in crisis who are either unable or unwilling to give a child the love and care he or she needs.

It will be at this moment when the true test comes –– and the church must be ready. For it has a duty to look out for the child in all of this. To be her voice. To be her advocate. And we should stand ready to welcome her with open arms (Mark 10:14) and let her know the Author of life has wanted her all along.

By / Dec 6

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, one of the most important abortion cases in decades. Here are answers to a few questions you may have about this monumental case.

Will the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade?

While it is impossible to know how the Supreme Court will rule on any case, this case presents a unique opportunity to overturn the precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The ERLC submitted an amicus brief asking the court to do just that and set a new precedent that respects the dignity of every life. 

Here is a look at some of the issues raised by the justices. 

What is the Dobbs case about?

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court is reviewing a Mississippi law titled the “Gestational Age Act” that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except in a medical emergency and in cases of severe fetal abnormality. This law replaces the ‘viability standard’ created by Roe with a limit on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court is examining whether pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. 

What is the “viability standard?”

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court admitted that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn human life, but concluded that that interest did not become compelling until viability, because at that point the unborn child “has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.”

However, the choice of viability as the point before which a state may not forbid abortion is entirely arbitrary. Even the author of Roe and two authors of Casey’s three-justice plurality have admitted this. When the “viability standard” was initially created in 1973, viability was around 28 weeks, but it is now around 21 weeks. The viability line will continue to move as our modern medicine continues to improve. No Supreme Court decision has ever provided a principled justification for the viability standard. 

Does the Constitution guarantee a right to abortion?

The ERLC’s amicus brief answers this question well:

“The Constitution does not create a right to an abortion of an unborn child before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy. An asserted right to abortion has no basis in constitutional text or in American history and tradition.” 

When will the Supreme Court rule on abortion?

While the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1, 2021, a ruling is not expected until the end of the court’s term in June 2022. 

What happens if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

Even if the Supreme Court overturns the precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion would not become illegal overnight. Instead, each state would then be free to set their own laws banning or allowing abortion. If Roe is overturned, an estimated 26 states will implement complete bans on abortion. 

If abortion becomes illegal in many states, many more vulnerable women and their preborn babies will need help and support. Christians must be ready to stand in the gap and provide love and care. Together, we must work toward a day when abortion is not only illegal but also unthinkable. 

By / Dec 3

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that many have called “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” for the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade

During oral arguments, an attorney for each side of a case is given the opportunity to make a presentation to the court and answer questions posed by the justices. Before this process begins, each side in the case submitted a written legal argument outlining each party’s points of law. The justices will have read these briefs prior to argument and are thoroughly familiar with the case, its facts, and the legal positions that each party is advocating. As the Supreme Court website notes, “The arguments are an opportunity for the Justices to ask questions directly of the attorneys representing the parties to the case, and for the attorneys to highlight arguments that they view as particularly important.” 

Oral arguments are not a requirement for a Supreme Court case. In fact, only about 53–70% of cases accepted by the court each year include oral arguments. But oral arguments provide the public ​​​their first glimpse into what issues or concerns the justices consider most relevant. Observers of the court must be cautious, though, because it’s difficult to impossible to tell how a case will be decided based only on this process. 

Issues raised by the justices 

Still, oral arguments can sometimes reveal trends that show how the judges might be thinking about a case. Here, for example, are some of the issues raised by the various justices:

As the first to ask a question, Justice Thomas set the tone early in the hearing by asking what difference it makes that “this is the only constitutional right that involves the taking of a life.” This allowed Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, to note how problematic and unusual it is and how much of a break the court’s abortion jurisprudence is from those other cases.

Thomas also asked a question that seemed to be on the minds of many of the justices:  If the Court doesn’t overrule Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, what standard should replace the viability standard (i.e., allowing abortion to be nearly unrestricted until the child can live outside the womb). Stewart says it is likely to be the undue burden standard, which holds that a legislature cannot make a particular law too burdensome or restrictive of a person’s fundamental rights. This is the standard — which Stewart argues is increasingly unworkable — the courts have used to access state-level abortion restrictions. 

Justice Breyer and Sotomayor expressed concerns that overturning Roe and Casey could be seen as politically motivated by the court and could undermine the legitimacy of the institution. Sotomayor also dismissed concern about fetal pain as “not well founded in science at all” and asked how the state of Mississippi’s ​​interest in the unborn could be based on “anything but a religious view.” To this last point, Justice Kagan inserted an indirect rebuttal by asking if there are “secular philosophers and bioethicists who take the position that the rights of personhood begin at conception or at some point other than viability.” This allowed Stewart the opportunity to note that when life begins is not merely​ a matter of religion. 

Justice Alito also asked if viability was a nonarbitrary standard, but Julie Rikelman, a lawyer representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was unable to provide a compelling argument for keeping the standard. Her reasoning was that abortion was a fundamental right, and in the ​​Casey decision the “Court had to set a line between conception and birth, and it logically looked at the fetus’s ability to survive separately as a legal line because it’s objectively verifiable and doesn’t require the Court to resolve the philosophical issues at stake.”

Justice Roberts also appeared to be interested in why the viability standard should be maintained. He asked Ricklman about why a 15-week ban would remove a woman’s choice to have an abortion since she would have almost four months to terminate the pregnancy. Ricklman never directly answered the question but implied that that a 15-week ban would prevent some women from getting an abortion. 

Justice Barrett pointed out that because of safe haven laws, which allow a woman to give up her child soon after birth, the consequences of abortion are limited to the time of pregnancy, and not necessarily afterward. Rickelman attempted to claim that being forced to carry a child to term was both an imposition during and after pregnancy, but she was unable to make an argument for why that was true. 

Several of the justices also brought up the issue of stare decisis, the principle that courts will follow their previous decisions. For instance, Elizabeth B. Prelogar, the solicitor general of the United States, was asked by Justice Alito if her argument was that a case can never be overruled simply because it was egregiously wrong. Alito even asked whether in infamous Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation, should have been overturned merely because it was “egregiously wrong.” Prelogar eventually conceded that it could not and that, “This Court, no, has never overruled in that situation just based on a conclusion that the decision was wrong.”

Now that oral arguments are completed, the court will spend the next few months researching and deliberating about this case. The final decision on what could be a watershed case in American jurisprudence will likely come at the end of next June