By / May 12

On May 3, the North Carolina legislature passed the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act” (Senate Bill 20), legislation that reduces the state’s elective abortion limit from 20 weeks down to 12 and includes an exception for rape and incest through 20 weeks. It also establishes an exception for fetal life-limiting anomalies through 24 weeks (there is no limit if a doctor determines the life of the mother is in danger).

Additionally, the bill includes several financial measures to support women and families, including millions in federal matching funds to reduce infant and maternal mortality and almost $59 million for foster care, kinship care, and children’s homes. 

Several criminal penalties are also in the bill, including making it a Class D felony and a $250,000 fine for any physician that fails to aid babies born alive following a botched procedure, raising penalties for assault on pregnant women, including lifetime GPS monitoring for certain domestic violence offenders. 

However, within hours of the bill passing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a video statement on Twitter accompanied by text that said he would veto the bill and that the “fine print” will “shut down clinics” and make abortion “completely unavailable to many women.” 

Baptist leaders call for action

The North Carolina Baptists (Baptist State Convention of North Carolina) and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) wrote a letter urging North Carolina lawmakers to take action on the bill. Acknowledging the political considerations that come into play, the Baptist leaders made a heartfelt plea to legislators to override the veto. 

They argue that the right to life is evident from several perspectives and implored lawmakers to take decisive action to save as many preborn lives as possible. The letter states, “we believe a right to life from conception is self-evident both from a theological perspective (see Psalm 139:13-16), a scientific perspective and a political perspective (see the Declaration of Independence).” 

In the letter, Baptist leaders also emphasize the importance of human dignity and the need to address the concerning rise of abortion rates in the state. The N.C. Baptists, with 4,300 cooperating churches and over one million members, recognize the infinite value and worth of every person, both born and preborn, in the eyes of their Creator. It is this fundamental truth that underpins their plea for legislators to consider the implications for public policy.

The letter also highlights how N.C. Baptists are dedicated to caring for preborn children, supporting vulnerable mothers, and ensuring families have the necessary resources to flourish. Their extensive work through pregnancy support clinics and various ministries demonstrates their deep commitment to protecting life from conception to natural death. Now, they are urging the state to join them in this important cause.

North Carolina lawmakers must take a stand for human dignity

In the face of a significant increase in abortion rates since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, North Carolina has become known as an abortion destination. In the letter to North Carolina lawmakers, Todd Unzicker, the executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and Brent Leatherwood, the president of the ERLC, passionately advocate for the protection of life from conception. They urge legislators to override the veto of Senate Bill 20, emphasizing the importance of human dignity and the need to reverse the rising tide of abortions in the state. 

By overriding the governor’s impending veto of Senate Bill 20, North Carolina lawmakers have an extraordinary opportunity to save countless preborn lives. By taking this action, North Carolina can establish itself as a place where life is cherished, protected, and given the opportunity to thrive.  

By / Apr 21

In the wake of the recent shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee has called on Tennessee lawmakers to introduce an Order of Protection law aimed at preventing firearms from being bought or possessed by people who may be a danger to society or themselves.

Gov. Lee’s proposal is fundamentally about providing law enforcement officers with the tools necessary to protect citizens, while upholding the rights of Tennesseans to exercise their constitutional rights. 

What is the Order of Protection proposal?

Gov. Lee’s proposal is not a new law, but rather builds on already existing legal frameworks and standards. In particular, it is linked to the existing Order of Protection for domestic violence. Currently, if a husband threatens to abuse a wife in Tennessee, an order of protection may be issued by the court temporarily restricting the husband’s access to weapons. This proposal expands that law to allow the same court to temporarily restrict access to weapons should a person threaten to attack a church, school, or other area of the community. 

The Order of Protection would institute a system so that firearms could be temporarily removed from individuals who have been deemed in a court of law to be a potential threat to themselves or others. 

The first step in the process is the involvement of law enforcement. Upon an official report that a person is a danger to themselves or others, law enforcement officers would conduct an investigation. If the officers deem that there is sufficient evidence for an individual to meet the evidentiary standard, then law enforcement would file a petition to the court. 

Once the petition is filed, the court has an extensive process which includes:

  • Setting a hearing date
  • Notifying the individual
  • Having a homicide/suicide assessment conducted by medical professionals

The court process requires that both sides have legal representation. Thus, there is a high bar for the process to begin, and individuals are entitled to full due process so as to challenge the claims of the court if they believe they are in error.

If the court grants the order of protection, then a person’s firearms may be removed for up to 180 days. The judge would also be required to consider alternatives before issuing the order. The firearms must be surrendered to either a third party or to law enforcement. Additionally, individuals may petition to have the firearms returned. The proposal also includes penalties for false reports.

The Order of Protection Proposal is Not a “Red Flag” Law

Red flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, are currently effective in 19 states along with Washington, D.C.  The guidelines and specific provisions vary from state to state, but there are key differences between these laws and Gov. Lee’s proposal. 

First, the Order of Protection only allows law enforcement officers to make the official request to the court. Some red flag laws allow multiple actors—such as medical professionals, family members, educators, and other individuals—to file a petition before the court to have firearms confiscated. However, the governor’s proposal restricts the power of filing the petition to law enforcement alone, supporting them in their efforts to prevent crime. 

Additionally, Gov. Lee’s proposal allows for a structured procedure to meet all the demands of due process. Many states’ red flag laws include an emergency ex parte. An ex parte allows for an expedited process in which firearms can be confiscated prior to a court hearing. In some states, the ex parte emergency seizure can last up to one year. The proposal from Gov. Lee does not include this provision, meaning that a person can only be dispossessed of the firearms if they go through the entire court process, which means due process is preserved.

How have Southern Baptists spoken to this issue?

Southern Baptists have spoken clearly about the need to meet and curb the plague of mass shootings in recent history. 

  • The messengers to the annual meeting in 2018 passed a resolution, “On Gun Violence and Mass Shootings.” 
  • This was reaffirmed in 2022 in the resolution, “On the Imago Dei and the Helpful Content Submitted in Several Resolutions.” 

Both resolutions affirmed the solidarity of the convention “with all those victimized by gun violence.” Further, the 2022 resolution called on local, state, and federal leaders to “take concrete steps, toward solutions that uphold the dignity and value of every human life . . . and to minimize the threat of gun violence throughout our society.” 

Additionally, Randy Davis, president of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, in addition to a group of pastors in the Middle Tennessee region, sent a letter to the members of the Tennessee General Assembly. In a Baptist and Reflector article, Davis commented on the Order of Protection:

“This is personal for me. . . . . I am a gun owner and I strongly support the Second Amendment, however I also have a daughter who is a school teacher. She loves the children she teaches. She and her students, like all teachers and students, deserve a safe environment in which to teach and learn. 

“Measures must be taken to address the mental health side of gun violence, especially as it pertains to mass shootings and the unnecessary and deeply unfortunate deaths of innocent people such as 9-year-old children.”

Representing more than 20% of the state’s population, these Southern Baptists and other ministers called on the members to support Gov. Lee’s proposal reminding them of their duty before God as “His servant[s] in matters of justice, protecting the vulnerable from those who do evil” (Rom. 13:1-7). 

As ERLC President Brent Leatherwood explained in his own letter to the Tennessee Assembly, the actions of Southern Baptists are drawn from the commitment that every life possesses intrinsic value and worth. The same convictions, Leatherwood argued, that motivate Christians to protect the preborn, urge them to protect vulnerable children from the violence of mass shootings.

By / Apr 14

On this episode, Lindsay Nicolet talks with Hannah Daniel about the importance of the Supreme Court in today’s society. They also discuss what’s new with the rapidly moving abortion pill case. 

Content

The abortion pill case

Explainer: How a case makes it the Supreme Court

Explainer: What you should know about Supreme Court decisions

Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • Racial unity | If we, as Southern Baptists, can be willing to listen and have good conversations about race, we will see fruit that will draw us closer together. That’s why we believe that A Conversation with Pastor Jon Nelson will be a helpful resource for you and your congregation. Watch this NEW video at ERLC.com/racialunity and listen as Jon candidly shares his thoughts on how we can meaningfully partner together on this work within our churches and communities. Again that link is ERLC.com/racialunity
  • Email updates | Now that 2023 is fully underway, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work we are doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. Whether it’s our 2023 Public Policy Agenda or another ultrasound machine placement, we want to make sure you know how we are serving our churches and acting as missionaries to the public square. As we move forward in 2023, know that first in our hearts and at the top of our minds are our churches. And we are taking those next steps with a Mark 10:44 mindset: to be a servant of all. The best way to learn more is by joining us at ERLC.com/updates. Signing up for email updates allows you to hear directly from us about our work and ways we are serving you on the issues that matter most to Southern Baptists. You’ll learn about our work on your behalf in our nation’s capital, about exciting new partnerships with our state conventions and the ways we are working across the convention with our sister entities. Become an email subscriber at ERLC.com/updates
By / Feb 7

Today, President Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address. The State of the Union (SOTU) gives the president the opportunity to report to Congress and the American people on the current condition of the United States and provides a policy vision for the upcoming legislative year. 

Unlike last year, Biden is delivering this address to a divided Congress, with Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate and Republicans holding a slim majority in the House of Representatives. Despite these realities, this year presents Biden with his last significant window of opportunity for major legislative action before the 2024 election cycle begins early next year. Looming over this year’s State of the Union is persistently high inflation at home, an intensifying war abroad, and uncertainty about whether the president will seek reelection in 2024.

What do we expect President Biden to address?

Thus far, the contents of Biden’s address have been closely held, so new initiatives that the president would like to call for or major legislation he’d like to push may not be known until the speech begins. However, there are a number of issues that, even without reporting, seem likely to be included. 

Abortion

This will be the first State of the Union given in a post-Roe America. Since the Dobbs decision was released last summer, the Biden administration has taken a number of actions to expand abortion access across the country. In addition to congressional efforts to codify a right to abortion following the ruling, the administration has flexed its regulatory powers to push forward abortion and subvert pro-life state laws. Through the administrative state, Biden has mandated abortion access at VA facilities across the nation, made the abortion pill more readily available than ever before, and is reportedly weighing declaring a “public health emergency” to create new avenues for abortion access.

Ukraine

Undoubtedly, the ongoing war in Ukraine will be addressed. As we approach the one-year mark of Russia’s unjust, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Biden will likely highlight all that the United States has done to support the Ukrainian people and pledge our country’s continued support. The president may also tout the country’s swift response in welcoming roughly 100,000 Ukrainian evacuees and the work of U.S. aid organizations such as Send Relief in meeting the humanitarian needs caused by the war. 

As the war drags on and the economic costs are felt at home and in Europe, it will be important that Biden address why continued support for the Ukrainian cause matters on a humanitarian, economic, and national security level. 

Criminal justice reform

It was recently announced that the parents of Tyre Nichols will be in attendance at the State of the Union. Following the recent release of video footage showing five Memphis police officers using excessive force that eventually led to Nichols’ death, there have been renewed calls for policing and broader criminal justice reforms. It is probable that Biden will seize this momentum and urge Congress to take up action on this issue. 

The sincerity of these calls to action may be evaluated by what type of solutions the president highlights. Whether he chooses to point to partisan legislation such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, bipartisan legislation that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) was involved in negotiating, or to criminal justice reforms outside of policing, such as the EQUAL Act, remains to be seen and will certainly be telling for the likelihood of any future action in this area.

Other issues President Biden should address

In his campaign for the presidency in 2020, Biden often referred to himself as a moderate, unity-seeking candidate. Despite some bipartisan legislative accomplishments on gun reform and infrastructure investments, the first two years of his presidency have been marked by high levels of partisanship and growing influence from the extreme-left wing of the Democratic party. Both a potential 2024 presidential run and the current realities of the U.S. Congress make it essential for Biden to stake out areas where true bipartisan consensus could be found and use the influence of his office to urge Congress to act in these areas. 

As mentioned in our recently released 2023 Public Policy Agenda, the following are areas with bipartisan support where we’d like to see both Congress and the president prioritize action.

Pro-Family Policy

In the wake of the Dobbs decision, there has been increased energy from lawmakers of both parties to do more to care for vulnerable women, children, and families. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)  joined that appeal this summer in anticipation of the decision, calling for pro-life and pro-family policies that “eradicate any perceived need for the horror of abortion.” 

Though the parties have deep disagreements on the issue of abortion, there should be common ground in addressing the key factors that drive women to seek abortions. We would like to see the president highlight policies that remedy marriage penalties, empower abortion-vulnerable women to choose life, and provide baseline levels of support for new parents.

China

One of the only moves to earn significant bipartisan support in these early days of this new Congress was the establishment of a committee in the House of Representatives to assess competition with China. As Biden reckons with China’s recent surveillance efforts, Secretary of State Blinken’s postponed visit to China, and his economic and climate goals, it is essential that human rights continue to be at the forefront of these conversations. 

In 2021, the SBC became the first protestant denomination ro rightly call what is happening to Uyghur Muslims a genocide, and since then, the ERLC has strongly advocated for the U.S. government to do more in countering China not just economically or militarily, but also morally.

Immigration reform

At the end of the last Congress, an unexpected, eleventh-hour framework emerged in the Senate, coupling much-needed border security improvements with a pathway to permanent status for Dreamers (young immigrants brought to the United States by their parents). Though this framework was not ultimately passed into law last year, the problems it sought to address have not gone away, and bipartisan groups of lawmakers have continued to negotiate possible solutions. Though immigration reforms in a divided Congress remain unlikely, these efforts would be bolstered by prioritization from the president. 

Biden certainly has a difficult task at hand to bring the country together amidst a myriad of ongoing challenges at home and abroad. Our hope is that he will pursue these policy areas where helpful compromises can be made and discord can be overcome, rather than pursuing divisive and extreme policies. Ultimately though, Christians do not put their faith in any one leader but trust God’s sovereign plan and pray that he gives each president wisdom in leading our nation.

By / Jan 26

The post-Roe world we live in is a fulfillment of the faithful work of pro-life advocates for 50 years. While there is certainly more work to be done to end abortion in all 50 states, it is a moment for celebration. Just as abortion existed before Roe v. Wade tragically made it legal, the pro-life movement faces an abortion industry committed to furthering a regime that ends life at all costs, with “abortion tourism” and the abortion pill making it easier than ever to evade bans and restrictions in the United States.

With that in mind, in addition to making abortion illegal, we must turn our focus to serving and supporting families.

Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention committed to “partnering with local, state, and federal governments to enact pro-life and pro-family policies that serve and support vulnerable women, children, and families” in order to “eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion,” during its annual meeting in June 2022.

Our goal is not just for abortion to be illegal but for it to be viewed as an unthinkable act of cruelty by all of our neighbors and for our nation to truly embody a culture of life.

A scriptural foundation

God has spoken clearly throughout Scripture: Every human being is created in the image of God and possesses immeasurable dignity and worth; Every aspect of his design for human life in accordance with his will is good (Gen. 1:26-30). In the beginning, we see the institution of marriage—one man and one woman for life—as something that God creates for our good (Gen. 2). The married couple is then instructed to bear fruit and multiply as part of God’s plan for their flourishing (Gen 1:28; Ps. 127:3). 

The biblical framework for the nuclear family is a desirable end, and the good work of protecting and promoting the family in all its biblical forms is central to the ethic, life, and mission of the church. Local churches—and the parents, teachers, counselors, and foster care and adoptive families within them—walk alongside couples through difficult times, aid in the discipleship of their children, and help bring healing to broken families and hope to forgotten children. 

This pro-family work is invaluable and an essential part of our calling individually and collectively. Even as culture changes, Southern Baptists must remain committed to advancing a distinctly Christian vision for the family in the public square and safeguarding the integrity of this crucial biblical institution for the good of our neighbor.

Current realities

As a nation, our policies incentivize what we want more of and disincentivize what we want less of. The allocation of resources, as well as how we structure our tax code, reveal where our national priorities lie.

Currently, many of our policies economically disincentivize marriage.

Similarly, our laws make abortion incredibly less difficult and less expensive than adoption. According to Planned Parenthood, the cost of an abortion is generally less than $750. Meanwhile, the average cost of an adoption can run between $20,000–$50,000. Little has been done to combat the soaring costs of childcare, housing, food, and other necessities that greatly affect families. Due to inflation, it is estimated that raising a child through high school now costs approximately $300,000. Moreover, financial insecurity is cited by 73% of women who choose to have an abortion as the primary driver of their choice.

For Christians, these realities should represent a sobering challenge.

If we truly value life, family, and marriage, then we should advocate for laws that do the same, thereby making it easier for citizens of our country to choose these good things. While we will continue to work relentlessly through policy and law to make abortion illegal across the country, that simply is not enough. To create a culture of life, we must also redouble our efforts to holistically care for women and families in times of crisis and prioritize support for the flourishing of families. 

A vision for a pro-family world

As part of that commitment to bolstering the institution of the family, we should advocate for creative and responsible policies that remove unnecessary legal or economic roadblocks to marriage, ensure families—with an emphasis on abortion-vulnerable women—have the resources to parent their children, and promote full participation of both parents in the raising of children. Though the state can never be a replacement for the vital work of the church in supporting families, it is an important component that cannot be ignored (Rom. 13). 

In the post-Dobbs world, there has been growing support among lawmakers from both parties to do more to support women in crisis and families. Additionally, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated that if Republicans retook the House in November—which they did by a narrow margin—their pro-family framework would be a legislative priority. There is much to still be debated on which of these policies are best and which can find the necessary bipartisan support to become law, but it is encouraging that many members of Congress are beginning to recognize a need for programs that support families and are thinking creatively on how best to do that. 

As we consider these proposals, the ERLC will advocate for policy changes that strengthen families and marriages, promote the well-being of children, recognize the dignity of work, and wisely steward financial resources.

To that end, we would strongly encourage lawmakers to develop policies in the following areas that would vastly improve the ability to raise a child and ensure families can flourish: 

  • Legislation that provides abortion-vulnerable women with information about all of their options and avenues for support, countering the false notion that abortion is their only choice. 
  • Policies that protect pregnant women in the workplace and allow them to safely continue providing for their families throughout pregnancy. 
  • Policies that bolster the important work of pregnancy resource centers and fund them to care for women in need. 
  • Policies that eliminate tax code discrimination against the traditional family and reduce the onerous tax burden on families with children. 
  • Strategic aid programs targeted to low-income mothers and families that stimulate economic stability and independence, sparking sustainable, communal financial growth trends while also ensuring that the necessary resources are available around the birth of a child. 
  • Adoption of policies that provide a baseline of security for new families to bond with their children without economic harm. 
  • Collaborative partnerships between civil society and government that bolster social support and increase excellence, availability, and affordability in maternal healthcare and childcare without trampling on conscience rights. 
  • And policies that make adoption more affordable and accessible

We long for a world where a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy would have such overwhelming support from her community that she feels confident that she can keep and raise her child. We desire for our nation’s laws to incentivize family formation and prioritize using our resources to support families. Ultimately, we seek justice and flourishing for our neighbors so that they may see and seek the joy, fulfillment, and eternal life only found in Christ. Public policy that prioritizes the family serves that end and is an essential piece in creating a culture that truly values life.

View the latest issue of Light magazine here.

By / Jan 19

Where do we go from here? Sometimes that phrase is heard after a family tragedy or a moment that upends our life or business. Many Kentucky Baptists and their neighbors were asking that very question after the historic west Kentucky tornadoes on Dec. 10, 2021, and the eastern Kentucky flooding this past July.  

But in this case, the question was being asked after the Yes for Life Amendment (Constitutional Amendment 2) failed to pass in Kentucky’s voting booths Nov. 8, 2022. The amendment stated, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The result of the vote was disappointing for those who worked diligently to see this amendment passed.  

Much prayer and sacrifice went into the drafting and promotion of this historic amendment. Many elected leaders, as well as pastors and church leaders, put their own names on the line to defend the preborn in our state. Kentucky Baptist pastors and associational and ministry leaders were “all in” on promoting the passage of Amendment 2, and Kentucky Baptists showed up and voted for the amendment. We should give thanks for those who provided leadership to speak up for the preborn.  

We are disappointed in the defeat of Amendment 2. Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights atrocity of our day, and Kentucky Baptists will continue to work and pray that it remains illegal in our state. We are grateful that Attorney General Daniel Cameron has proven that he will fight to uphold Kentucky’s pro-life laws in court, and we encourage our state legislators to continue passing legislation that protects preborn children made in the image of God. 

What’s next for pro-life Kentuckians? 

But, where do we go from here? Here are five actions to consider:  

1. We continue to pray for abortion to be abolished in Kentucky. Abolitionist William Wilberforce fought tirelessly against the inhumane slave trade in Great Britain. He suffered defeat after defeat before finally experiencing victory. Our cause is one worthy of continued effort and prayer. This defeat gives each of us an opportunity to sharpen our pro-life apologetics and get to work convincing and persuading others of the rightness of our position.  

2. We continue to care for women and families with unplanned pregnancies. Forty-nine pregnancy resource centers in Kentucky are connected to the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can learn more here. The leaders and volunteers at these bastions of compassion woke up on Wednesday morning following the election and went to work doing what they do every day—serving women and families experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. We can help them with their work.  

3. We continue to encourage elected leaders who defend life. I was so proud of many of Kentucky’s elected House and Senate members and constitutional officers who put their own popularity on the line to defend preborn children in Kentucky. The disrespectful chant that says “politicians look for a parade and get in front of it” does not fit these courageous leaders. In Kentucky, we have strong pro-life laws and an attorney general who will vigorously defend them before the Supreme Court. Continue to pray for the Kentucky Supreme Court as it heard arguments on Nov. 15t, 2022, about a challenge to the state’s pre-Roe trigger law which has currently banned abortion. We pray that they will uphold the ban which is currently in effect.

4. We continue to pray for pro-abortion advocates. During the recent Amendment 2 campaign, I was given a renewed passion for praying for and striving to persuade those who view preborn human beings differently than I do. I believe, according to God’s Word, that they are wrong in their position. I also believe they are people made in the image of God who need the gospel. 

5. We continue to promote the adoption of vulnerable children. While a vulnerable mom might not be up to the task of parenting her preborn child, someone else is. There are couples all over the commonwealth who would line up to adopt vulnerable children and give them a great life.  

So where do we go from here? We keep working toward the day when legalized elective abortion will be part of our terrible past, but not part of our more humane future.  

As of the writing of this article, there are no legalized elective abortions being performed in Kentucky. Please join me in praying that this will be our normal from now on. 

A version of this article first appeared here

By / Jan 5

In 2020, “medication” abortion—abortion via pills rather than surgery—accounted for the majority of all United States abortions for the first time in the pills’ 20-year history.1

Reinforcing access to these medication abortions was one of the Biden administration’s first responses to the fall of Roe. President Joe Biden “directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify all ways to ensure that mifepristone [one of the two drugs used in pill-based abortions] is as widely accessible as possible”2 in the very same statement in which he asserted a right to engage in interstate abortion trafficking.3 

These are the emergent twin frontiers of the pro-life legal battle: abortion pills and abortion trafficking. 

These abortions aren’t as “safe and effective” as they’re made out to be, either.4 Abortion pills are four times more likely to land vulnerable mothers in the emergency room than first-trimester surgical abortions.5 Surgical abortions pursued out-of-state can be risky, too, as the side effects can be severe for mothers. Women undergoing out-of-state abortions risk being stranded away from family or friends while they suffer potentially extreme pain, bleeding, 6 grief, or anxiety.7

However, these two abortion strategies have become the preferred ways for the federal government and regulatory agencies to advance abortion after the Dobbs ruling—thereby hampering pro-life legislators at the state level.8 

The text of the Dobbs decision was clear: the court sought ultimately to allow “each State to address abortion as it pleases.”9 It specifically rendered judgment that no “right to abortion” is derived from the U.S. Constitution. 

In other words, while it was a tremendous pro-life victory that allows elected officials to make laws protecting children in the womb, Dobbs emphatically did not end abortion in the United States. Much of the fight to protect vulnerable little ones remains with us.

Remembering why we advocate for abortion’s end

That’s why it is essential that legislators, activists, and Christians remember why we “address” abortion at all: to end the ongoing massacre of innocent, human life in the womb. 

As early as six weeks,10 a heartbeat of about 110 BPM is detectable in the womb—no matter how hard pro-abortion activists may fight to revise longstanding, uncontroversial medical consensus.11 By 12 weeks, all of the little human’s major body systems are present and reflexes begin to develop.12 At 18 weeks, children can hear their mothers’ heartbeat.13 In the last trimester, they can taste—and smile or grimace at—the flavors of the food their mother eats.14

This is not simply a political or campaign issue. This is not just the states’ legal responsibility. This is the gravest human rights abuse in our society. These are children. They always have been and always will be. Children were at the heart of the pro-life movement from its inception—as individuals sought to protect these vulnerable neighbors from the abortion provider’s hand—and they remain there to this day.

A legislation rundown

Yet there is legislation on the books in aggressively pro-abortion states to expand the legal killing of these children. Seven states have no gestational limit on abortion whatsoever,15 and another 26 states16 only limit abortions at or around the point of “fetal viability,” generally between 22 and 24 weeks.17

Given the fact that 91% of U.S. abortions occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy,18 viability protections translate into unrestricted abortion access for the vast majority of women who desire an abortion. In other words, many of the children who may have been killed under Roe may also be killed under Dobbs.

The state-level response to Dobbs is varied, and a range of pro-life strategies are before the courts at this very moment.Thus far, six states responded by introducing “personhood amendments,” amendments to their state constitution that would permanently enshrine the human child in the womb as a legal person.19 The Dobbs decision explicitly sidestepped the question of fetal personhood, so these amendments—and the litigation battles they spawn—are breaking new legal ground.20

Other states, like Missouri, are exploring protecting children from abortion traffficking.21 Following a model like Texas’ novel S.B. 8 law, Republican Missouri Rep. Mary Coleman introduced legislation that would allow private citizens to sue anyone they knew had pursued an out-of-state abortion.22 

Additionally, 19 states required abortion pill providers be present for the administration of the first dose, making out-of-state “telemedicine” in these cases effectively illegal.23 Part of this provider requirement is often a guarantee of emergency care for women undergoing “self-managed” abortions—a surprising stipulation if they are in fact as safe as proponents make them out to be.24

However, international providers are untouchable by current federal regulation.25 One such provider, Aid Access, is based in Europe and provides medical abortions to Americans in states where life is protected.26 It’s run by a pro-abortion activist and was actively pursued by the Trump administration’s FDA for providing “unapproved” forms of the drugs used in medical abortion, but continues providing abortions-by-mail to this day.27 Aid Access claimed it received more than 10,000 requests for the abortion pill regimen in the week after the Dobbs decision.28 

International pills pose deep and dangerous risks for women who may not have consulted their own doctor who knows their medical history. An incorrect dose could lead to a hemorrhage, for example, or if a woman is Rh negative and doesn’t receive Rhogam at the time of her abortion, she could be putting herself at serious risk in future pregnancies. 

The work before us 

The future of the pro-life movement is growing much more complex. We are not merely fighting to protect women and children from a badly-reasoned 1973 Supreme Court precedent. We are fighting to defend them against international activists, other states, domestic activists, and even the current administration. Addressing the use or expansion of abortion pills and abortion trafficking, in all their forms, will become essential as we seek to protect human life in the womb in America. 

But there is another side to this picture. Legally protecting children in the womb alone fails to address the very real and pressing needs of vulnerable mothers all over the nation who are in desperate need of material, emotional, and social support. So—as voters, as members of the pro-life movement, and as Christians—we must rally around women, as well. 

We need to find a way to restore motherhood to its rightful status as a role to be celebrated, cherished, and protected. 

It will take charity, humility, and tireless work from all parts of the pro-life movement in order to do so: part legislative, part community-based, part spiritual ministry, and part prayer. 

But it is possible. And it is imperative that we work to realize it. Millions of children in the womb and their mothers depend upon us, now more than ever. The legacy of the pro-life movement hangs in the balance, and we cannot afford to lose momentum or clarity.

So work and pray. Pray in gratitude for each life rescued by existing abortion restrictions, many enacted by the Dobbs decision. And work fervently to rescue children in the many states where their lives are not yet protected or valued. The very fabric of our society depends upon it. 

View the latest issue of Light magazine here.

By / Jan 3

The post-Roe world we live in is a fulfillment of the faithful work of pro-life advocates for 50 years. While there is certainly more work to be done to end abortion in all 50 states, it is a moment for celebration. Just as abortion existed before Roe v. Wade tragically made it legal, the pro-life movement faces an abortion industry committed to furthering a regime that ends life at all costs, with “abortion tourism” and the abortion pill making it easier than ever to evade bans and restrictions in the United States.

With that in mind, in addition to making abortion illegal, we must turn our focus to serving and supporting families. Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention committed to “partnering with local, state, and federal governments to enact pro-life and pro-family policies that serve and support vulnerable women, children, and families” in order to “eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion,” during its annual meeting in June 2022.1 Our goal is not just for abortion to be illegal but for it to be viewed as an unthinkable act of cruelty by all of our neighbors and for our nation to truly embody a culture of life.

A scriptural foundation

God has spoken clearly throughout Scripture: Every human being is created in the image of God and possesses immeasurable dignity and worth; Every aspect of his design for human life in accordance with his will is good (Gen. 1:26-30). In the beginning, we see the institution of marriage—one man and one woman for life—as something that God creates for our good (Gen. 2). The married couple is then instructed to bear fruit and multiply as part of God’s plan for their flourishing (Gen 1:28; Ps. 127:3). 

The biblical framework for the nuclear family is a desirable end, and the good work of protecting and promoting the family in all its biblical forms is central to the ethic, life, and mission of the church. Local churches—and the parents, teachers, counselors, and foster care and adoptive families within them—walk alongside couples through difficult times, aid in the discipleship of their children, and help bring healing to broken families and hope to forgotten children. 

This pro-family work is invaluable and an essential part of our calling individually and collectively. Even as culture changes, Southern Baptists must remain committed to advancing a distinctly Christian vision for the family in the public square and safeguarding the integrity of this crucial biblical institution for the good of our neighbor.

Current realities

As a nation, our policies incentivize what we want more of and disincentivize what we want less of. The allocation of resources, as well as how we structure our tax code, reveal where our national priorities lie. Currently, many of our policies economically disincentivize marriage.2 Similarly, our laws make abortion incredibly less difficult and less expensive than adoption. According to Planned Parenthood, the cost of an abortion is generally less than $750.3 Meanwhile, the average cost of an adoption can run between $20,000–$50,000.4 Little has been done to combat the soaring costs of childcare, housing, food, and other necessities that greatly affect families. Due to inflation, it is estimated that raising a child through high school now costs approximately $300,000.5 Moreover, financial insecurity is cited by 73% of women who choose to have an abortion as the primary driver of their choice.6

For Christians, these realities should represent a sobering challenge. If we truly value life, family, and marriage, then we should advocate for laws that do the same, thereby making it easier for citizens of our country to choose these good things. While we will continue to work relentlessly through policy and law to make abortion illegal across the country, that simply is not enough. To create a culture of life, we must also redouble our efforts to holistically care for women and families in times of crisis and prioritize support for the flourishing of families. 

A vision for a pro-family world

As part of that commitment to bolstering the institution of the family, we should advocate for creative and responsible policies that remove unnecessary legal or economic roadblocks to marriage, ensure families—with an emphasis on abortion-vulnerable women—have the resources to parent their children, and promote full participation of both parents in the raising of children. Though the state can never be a replacement for the vital work of the church in supporting families, it is an important component that cannot be ignored (Rom. 13). 

In the post-Dobbs world, there has been growing support among lawmakers from both parties to do more to support women in crisis and families. Additionally, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated that if Republicans retook the House in November—which they did by a narrow margin—their pro-family framework would be a legislative priority.7 There is much to still be debated on which of these policies are best and which can find the necessary bipartisan support to become law, but it is encouraging that many members of Congress are beginning to recognize a need for programs that support families and are thinking creatively on how best to do that. 

As we consider these proposals, the ERLC will advocate for policy changes that strengthen families and marriages, promote the well-being of children, recognize the dignity of work, and wisely steward financial resources. To that end, we would strongly encourage lawmakers to develop policies in the following areas that would vastly improve the ability to raise a child and ensure families can flourish: 

  • Legislation that provides abortion-vulnerable women with information about all of their options and avenues for support, countering the false notion that abortion is their only choice. 
  • Policies that protect pregnant women in the workplace and allow them to safely continue providing for their families throughout pregnancy. 
  • Policies that bolster the important work of pregnancy resource centers and fund them to care for women in need. 
  • Policies that eliminate tax code discrimination against the traditional family and reduce the onerous tax burden on families with children. 
  • Strategic aid programs targeted to low-income mothers and families that stimulate economic stability and independence, sparking sustainable, communal financial growth trends while also ensuring that the necessary resources are available around the birth of a child. 
  • Adoption of policies that provide a baseline of security for new families to bond with their children without economic harm. 
  • Collaborative partnerships between civil society and government that bolster social support and increase excellence, availability, and affordability in maternal healthcare and childcare without trampling on conscience rights. 
  • And policies that make adoption more affordable and accessible. 

We long for a world where a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy would have such overwhelming support from her community, that she feels confident that she can keep and raise her child. We desire for our nation’s laws to incentivize family formation and prioritize using our resources to support families. Ultimately, we seek justice and flourishing for our neighbors so that they may see and seek the joy, fulfillment, and eternal life only found in Christ. Public policy that prioritizes the family serves that end and is an essential piece in creating a culture that truly values life.

View the latest issue of Light magazine here.

By / Dec 27

It rarely happens to me, but I could not speak. I just sat in a kind of stunned silence when I heard the news. Then, I felt like crying, which is also rare for me. My tears, however, were tears of joy. It should not be this way, but I was surprised that God had positively answered a prayer I had been praying for 32 years since I became a Christian. Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision with a 6-3 ruling. No longer is the purposeful destruction of life in the womb counted as a federally protected right. 

I have been reminded in the ensuing days of many of the tireless heroes I have known who have been on the front lines, relentlessly fighting for the end of Roe. Most of these people are ordinary Americans from all walks of life, full of faith and hope. They are people whose compassion compels them to be champions for life, from womb to tomb. The coalition looks nothing like the cartoonish caricatures some on the cultural left attempt to make them out to be. Their chief weapons in this battle have been kindness, generosity, and persistence. 

More recently, my thoughts have turned to the fact that our pro-life coalition, while rightly rejoicing in a significant victory, must not grow weary in well-doing (Gal. 6:9). The toppling of Roe did not make abortion illegal across the nation but rather turned the issue back to the states. There is work to be done—more work, not less—in every state across the nation in defending and caring for life.

What legislation is like in a more pro-life state

My state, Kentucky, faces a far different situation than my brothers and sisters in California. While our governor, Andy Beshear, is radically pro-abortion, the state is not. During statewide COVID lockdowns, the governor’s edict called for only life-saving medical procedures to be permitted, but he made an exception for the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the state’s only abortion clinic. Nevertheless, the Kentucky General Assembly preemptively passed a trigger law in 2019 to take effect immediately upon the overturning of Roe. The trigger law bans abortion in the state with an exception to save the life of the mother. Attorney General Daniel Cameron has clarified that he will enforce Kentucky’s pro-life laws. Kentucky was one of 13 states to pass post-Roe trigger laws.1https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/06/13-states-have-abortion-trigger-bans-heres-what-happens-when-roe-overturned

However, Kentucky is not a state free of pro-life concerns. In the recent November general elections, Kentuckians were asked to pass Constitutional Amendment 2.

The one-sentence amendment stated, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The amendment was already passed by the state legislature in November 2021.

Constitutional Amendment 2 was simply worded to prevent activist judges from “finding” a right to abortion in Kentucky’s Constitution and ensures that the state’s abortion policy will be set exclusively by the citizens of the Commonwealth and its elected representatives. The amendment would have ensured that the citizens of Kentucky would not be coerced into funding the destruction of babies’ lives in the womb.2https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article267183231.html Though the pro-life coalition in Kentucky advocated strongly for the bill, it failed to garner the support necessary. This demonstrates that end of Roe was but a new beginning for the work of the pro-life movement.

These legislative battles are strategically important in post-Roe America. No Christian should minimize their importance in the least. In our federal democratic republic, the sword is placed in each of our hands, and we must wield it faithfully to the glory of Christ. Nevertheless, with equal vehemence, we must assert that legislative battles are only a part of the story for the church in our post-Roe world. Our gaze must stretch from ballot initiatives all the way to the consummation of Christ’s kingdom. 

Advocating for life made in God’s image

For Christians, our pro-life commitment is rooted in the fact that we are all made in the image of our Creator God. Any thought of life, for the Christian, should always prompt thoughts about eternal life. There is always more to the story for believers than any particular cultural moment. The truth is, the bulk of on-the-ground pro-lifers I have known throughout my life as a follower of Jesus have lived this reality. The power of the pro-life cause has been that most pro-lifers have not viewed their cultural opponents as enemies. I have known many people won to the pro-life cause because of how they were served and loved by someone they viewed as an enemy. 

I will never forget when a woman came up to me after a morning church service and said, “I want to introduce you to my child. My child is only alive because of your church.” Then she told me about the day she headed to the abortion clinic where people were pleading with her to keep her baby and offering to pray for her. She said she screamed, “You do not care about this baby’s life! Just its birth!” Those people, members of the church I pastor, gave her money to get on her feet, paid for the baby’s needs, and helped her get a job. 

You know what? I still do not know who the particular members of my church were that served and loved this confused and frightened woman. I do not know because they did not do it so that others would know. They did it because they love Christ and love the people made in his image. I do not know if that woman is a Christian today, but I do know she heard the gospel and has been shown love in Christ’s name. I also know that every time she sees her child she is reminded of that love.

I thank God for the fall of Roe, and I pray that my beloved state of Kentucky will become a state where abortion is unthinkable. We must continue to work on legislative measures that will end government-sponsored predation on women in moments of crisis and confusion by legally protecting something so egregiously wrong. But I also know this: regardless, there will still be confused and frightened women in Kentucky and around the nation facing a pregnancy who will need believers to show them the love of Christ. 

Our fight against the deceitful culture of death will continue until that ancient serpent of old is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:2, 10). The Evil One has hated babies and sought their destruction since the first gospel promise that one born of woman will bring his demise (Genesis 3:15). Supreme courts matter, elected officials matter, but the Messiah and his church transcends all. The Church must understand that the pro-life movement did not begin in the 1960s; it began in the garden, and its ultimate victory is not in courts, but in a New Heavens and New Earth.

  • 1
    https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/06/13-states-have-abortion-trigger-bans-heres-what-happens-when-roe-overturned
  • 2
    https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article267183231.html
By / Dec 22

Marriage and the family unit were established by God at the very beginning of creation as the first institutions. Genesis 1 and 2 shows us how God fashioned man and woman in his image, brought them together as one flesh, and gave them the charge to be fruitful and multiply, or bear children. God works in many ways, but it’s through marriage and family that some of his greatest blessings abound to the world and bring about flourishing.

Because of the importance of these God-ordained institutions in preserving and prospering our society, the ERLC will continue to advocate for policies that maintain and protect these essential aspects of life together. God’s ways are for our good, whether or not our culture recognizes this to be true. While marriage and family will not be perfect in the midst of a fallen world, it’s our responsibility as Christians to continue to champion God’s design and see it upheld for the good of our neighbor. 

Sexual Ethics event

One of the ways the ERLC carried out this aspect of our mission this year was by devoting significant attention to sexual ethics. Specifically, we addressed this topic in the month of June because of its unavoidable cultural designation as “Pride Month.” 

Jason Thacker hosted an online event called, Discipling Your Church For a World in Sexual Crisis, which featured Andrew T. Walker, Dean Inserra, and Katie McCoy, and sought to equip churches and individuals to understand this current cultural moment and engage in these important discussions. In addition to this event, we featured much-needed resources on the topic of sexual ethics including:

House Passage of the Adoptee Citizenship Act

Another way we sought to promote the health of families was through legislation. Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps required of families adopting internationally were unnecessarily burdensome. The process included applying for and moving through a lengthy naturalization process for their children, in addition to the lengthy and costly adoption process. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States who had at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, that act only applied to adoptees under the age of 18 when the bill was enacted, leaving an entire population of adopted children without full U.S. citizenship. The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these children already adopted by U.S. citizens yet left out of the previous bill.

The ERLC has supported the Adoptee Citizenship Act for years. We have been engaged with a broad coalition invested in child welfare to urge members of Congress to swiftly pass this bill and secure permanent citizenship for the thousands of impacted adoptees. In March of 2021, the ERLC wrote a coalition letter to the House of Representatives urging them to swiftly pass this vital piece of legislation. 

In February of 2022, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1953, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021. An amended version of the bill passed the Senate, but the House disagreed with the Senate’s amendments and left the bill in limbo. The House’s bipartisan action on this bill is a promising first step, but we urge members of both houses of Congress to agree on legislative language and pass this crucial bill.

The Equality Act

One of the greatest legislative challenges the ERLC has engaged with is The Equality Act. In February 2021, the House passed The Equality Act (H.R. 5.)—a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. The bill would curtail religious freedom protections, hinder the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans.

The Equality Act would also gut the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The removal of this act would force faith-based child welfare organizations to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs or be shut down by the state. The Equality Act would also force healthcare workers and pro-life healthcare providers to participate in and provide abortions. 

The ERLC has worked tirelessly to defeat this bill. We have partnered with a broad coalition of more than 85 faith-based nonprofits, religious entities, and institutions of higher education to highlight the dangers of H.R. 5. We have raised these concerns with members of Congress and the administration through coalition letters and countless meetings with members, administration officials, and their staff. We have also engaged in public advocacy against the bill by producing a suite of resources available on our website to inform Christians and the broader public about the pernicious threat of H.R. 5. 

We will continue to lead efforts to oppose the Equality Act and any similar legislation introduced this Congress. As we do so, we will advocate for a public square solution that protects and upholds the dignity of all people and their rights, while ensuring that religiously motivated individuals and institutions are free to live and act according to their deeply held convictions.

Advocacy against SOGI provisions

The ERLC has also spoken out against the Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX, which would expand the definition of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI). These dangerous federal guidances would allow biological men to participate in collegiate women’s sports and would penalize institutions that fail to expand the definition of sex to include SOGI. The ERLC submitted public comments urging the department to alter this proposed rule. 

In addition, the ERLC has also spoken out against the Department of Health and Human Services’ addition of sexual orientation and gender identity language to multiple nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This rule would mandate gender-affirming care and would impede the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals. The ERLC submitted public comments to the HHS urging them to alter this proposed rule. 

In all of these challenges, the ERLC will continue to advocate for the recognition of God’s good design for biological sex and for the protection of religious liberty.