By / Jan 24

WASHINGTON (BP) – A trio of pro-life bills, endorsed by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, were either introduced, reintroduced or passed on Thursday, Jan. 18.

The Pregnancy Center Support Act was introduced to the Senate on Thursday, while the Unborn Child Support Act was reintroduced the same day. Additionally, the previously introduced Pregnant Students’ Rights Act passed the House on Thursday.

These updates took place one day before the annual March for Life, and three days before Sanctity of Life Sunday on the SBC Calendar.

Hannah Daniel, ERLC public policy director, praised the work of the lawmakers involved with the bills.

“At a time when lawmakers have been timid to voice pro-life convictions, I was encouraged to see legislative activity pushing forward the cause of life last week,” Daniel said.

At the ERLC, we are celebrating the passage of the Pregnant Students’ Rights Act along with the introduction of the Pregnancy Center Support Act and the Unborn Child Support Act. These bills recognize the dignity and personhood of the preborn and also tangibly assist new mothers and families to choose life.

Hannah Daniel

Read the full Baptist Press article here.

By / Jan 22

WASHINGTON (BP) – Thousands of Americans braved snowy conditions Friday (Jan. 19) in support of the pro-life cause during the 51st annual March for Life.

This year’s March for Life gathering marked the second time the event has been held since the historic overturning of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 2022, returning abortion legislation to the states.

It was the court’s Roe decision, handed down in January 1973, which inspired the first March for Life event, held the following year in 1974.

Since that first March, pro-life Americans (including many evangelical Christians) have come together each January near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to support the cause and re-affirm their commitment to protect unborn children and care for their mothers.

The event is understood to be the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration.

Among those marching Friday were many staff members of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).  

ERLC policy director Hannah Daniel advocates for pro-life causes year-round through the Leland House located on Capitol Hill.

Each year, the March for Life is an opportunity for the pro-life movement to come together and refocus our efforts on the goal: saving lives. The theme of this year’s march, ‘With every woman, for every child,’ points to the road ahead. As we continue to work towards a day where abortion is illegal, we must also come alongside women who are vulnerable with care and support, empowering them to choose life.

Hannah Daniel

For Julie Masson, ERLC director of communications, marching is a family affair.

“This is my fourth time participating in the March for Life, and each year I’m amazed at how many different people come to D.C. for this event,” Masson said.

“I’m joined this year by my teenage daughter, and it’s been wonderful to see the March through her eyes. The March for Life is another opportunity for the ERLC to communicate our commitment to advocating for the most vulnerable among us. We will continue to serve mothers and save lives through our public policy priorities.”

This year’s March for Life takes place just two days before Sanctity of Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention (Jan. 21), marking the 39th year of observance of the day on the SBC Calendar.

Read the full Baptist Press article here.

By / Jan 18

(RNS) — Last January, March for Life participants gathered for the first time after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, celebrating a long-sought victory even as they shifted their focus to the state level — the new battleground in the enduring abortion debate.

A year later, after a series of disappointments for the organization, in which more than half a dozen state ballot initiatives strengthened access to abortion, abortion opponents will gather again for the annual D.C. march, even as March for Life also plans at least 16 state-level marches this year, double that of 2023.

Brent Leatherwood, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he plans to represent his organization at the national march, as has long been its tradition. In contrast to Manson’s view about abortion rights and religious freedom, he said: “You can’t have rights that are at the expense of a life, especially a defenseless innocent life.”

Leatherwood said the road ahead will be a prolonged one for those who share his opposition to abortion.

I think the recent setbacks at the state level with ballot initiatives, various proposals in legislatures, are just a reminder that this is going to be a long path that we’re walking. And even though we may get various proposals passed or policy enacted, this question is not something that can be solved purely through policy. It is still very much a heart question.

Brent Leatherwood

Read the full Religion News Service article here.

By / Jan 18

A year ago, anti-abortion activists from across the U.S. gathered for their annual March for Life with reason to celebrate: It was their first march since the Supreme Court, seven months earlier, had overturned the nationwide right to abortion.

At this year’s march, on Friday, the mood will be very different — reflecting formidable challenges that lie ahead in this election year.

The key consequence of Dobbs was to return decision-making on abortion policy to individual states. Some Democratic-governed states — such as California, New York and New Jersey — have strengthened protections for abortion access. Roughly 20 states with Republican-controlled legislatures have either banned abortion or sought to impose new restrictions.

After Dobbs, “I didn’t want anyone to get the false sense that we were at the end of our work,” said Brent Leatherwood, an abortion opponent who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy wing.

We’ve gone from a focal point at the federal level to 50 different focal points. It may be another 50 years before we truly establish a culture of life, where preborn lives are saved and mothers are supported.

Brent Leatherwood

Read the full Associated Press article here.

By / Jan 11

Welcome to episode #348 on The ERLC Podcast where our goal is to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues. Today, we’re starting a new series that will focus on life. In this first episode, we’ll discuss what you should know about the pro-life movement after Roe.

Dignity of all human life

God’s Word, from the very beginning, affirms the dignity of all human life. Genesis 1 tells us that at the end of the creation process, “God said, ’Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ … 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This reveals to us that every person is made in the imago Dei, the image of God. And this means that every life, regardless of age, ability, or any other feature, has infinite value that cannot be taken away. The rest of the Bible unwaveringly affirms this truth. 

Pro-life movement after Roe

The pro-life movement is grounded in this reality and, most fundamentally, has sought to protect our tiniest citizens from the horrors of abortion. The culmination of this work was realized on June 24, 2022, a historic day of celebration as the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the constitutional right to abortion and return abortion legislation back to the states. This was a long-time unifying goal of the pro-life movement. According to The New York Times, since the court’s ruling, abortion access has dropped overall, with 21 states banning or restricting it and others reinforcing abortion protections.

However, the fight for life and the mission of the pro-life movement is far from over, and there’s still much work to be done on the local, state, and federal levels. New frontiers have arisen, with abortion tourism, or travel for abortions across state lines, and chemical abortions, or abortion pills, gaining momentum across our country. 

As we begin our series, we’ll talk to several guests who will give us a clear picture of the current state of the pro-life movement since last year’s historic Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. 

This week’s podcast guests: Benjamin Watson, Herbie Newell, and Dr. Bart Barber

You’ll hear from Benjamin Watson, a former NFL tight end, as well as a writer, speaker, and activist. He is the author of, “The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race, and a Pro-Life Commitment to Justice.” He serves as vice president of strategic relationships with the Human Coalition, one of the largest pro-life and pro-woman organizations in the country. Along with his wife, Kirsten, he is the founder of The Watson 7 Foundation, a nonprofit focused on strengthening families. The Watsons live in Georgia with their seven children.

Also joining us is Herbie Newell, president & executive director of Lifeline Children’s Services and its ministry arms. He holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Accounting from Samford University. Under Herbie’s leadership, Lifeline has increased international outreach to 25 countries through adoption and strategic orphan care, obtained licensure in 17 states, and established the foster care arm at Lifeline. 

Finally, you’ll hear from Dr. Bart Barber, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Our goal on the ERLC Podcast is to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues. As we discuss important topics that matter to Southern Baptists, you might have additional questions. We’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at [email protected] and let us know how you’re processing the conversations featured on the podcast. 

And just a reminder, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work the ERLC is doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. The best way to do that 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. 

The ERLC podcast is a production of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is produced by Lindsay Nicolet and Elizabeth Bristow. Technical production is provided by Owens Productions.  It is edited and mixed by Mark Owens.

By / Jul 14

In June, the pro-life movement celebrated the one-year anniversary of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. But in ​​the wake of that significant victory, the fight to protect preborn life and care for vulnerable mothers has continued at the state and federal level. Here are four recent events related to abortion you should know about. 

Iowa lawmakers approve ban on most abortions after about 6 weeks

The Iowa House has approved a new law that bans most abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Currently, abortion is legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. But this law prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. The new legislation will take immediate effect once it is signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Abortions after six weeks would be allowed only in such cases as:

  • rape, if reported to law enforcement or a health provider within 45 days;
  • incest, if reported within 145 days;
  • if the fetus has a fetal abnormality “incompatible with life;”
  • and if the pregnancy is endangering the life of the pregnant woman.

This bill also does not hold a woman criminally or civilly liable for having an abortion.

Iowa will join 11 other states that ban abortion as early as six weeks: Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Idaho sued over abortion trafficking ban that makes it a crime to help minors get abortions without parental consent

A lawsuit has been filed against the state of Idaho over its new law that restricts some out-of-state travel for abortions. Abortion is already banned in Idaho at all stages of pregnancy. But the new law makes it illegal for an adult to help a minor get an abortion without parental consent, and anyone who helps a pregnant minor get an abortion in another state can be punished by two to five years in prison. 

The law is the first to expressly criminalize assisting with an out-of-state abortion. It attempts to sidestep violating a constitutional right to travel between states by making illegal only the portion of the trip that takes place in Idaho.

The lawsuit claims that the law infringes on the right to interstate travel and on First Amendment rights to speak about abortion and provide support for pregnant minors traveling within and outside of Idaho. Abortion remains legal in the neighboring states of Washington, where no parental consent is required, and Oregon, where people over age 15 can get abortions without parental consent.

Pro-abortion advocates in Ohio push to codify abortion in the state’s constitution 

Ohio is poised to become the next major battleground in the pro-life fight to prevent the expansion of abortion. Pro-abortion rights groups submitted more than 700,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would codify the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. The initiative, known as Issue 1, would amend the Ohio Constitution to state that “every person has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization” and “every person has the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion.” The initiative is expected to be on the ballot in November 2023. 

During the last election season, similar pro-abortion measures passed in six states that had similar ballot initiatives. Other ballot campaigns to expand or codify a right to abortion are being pushed in several other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota.

U.S. government ordered to pay $2.2 million in fees to religious non-profit in abortion lawsuit

A federal judge in Texas has ordered the U.S. government to pay $2.2 million in legal fees to the non-profit Becket Law. The fees were awarded for the organization’s work in leading a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services Department. The lawsuit was related to issues of abortion and gender identity.

Becket Law, formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, has been involved in various legal cases involving religious freedom and abortion including Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which was a lawsuit over a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to meet certain standards.

Reimbursement is sometimes ordered by the courts when laws that violate civil rights are successfully challenged. Becket Law played a leading role in representing the non-profit in this lawsuit. 

By / Jun 21

A year ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and drastically altered access to abortion in our nation. Millions of pro-life activists had worked and prayed for this moment. Yet, the nature of the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization didn’t outlaw abortion; it sent the decision-making back to the states, setting off a chain of events, some positive and life-saving, some predatory and destructive.

In my life, I have had the opportunity to live in a few different cities, in different states, each with their own culture. I was able to build relationships with pregnancy care providers in these places, visit their clinics, and support their sacrificial, God-honoring work. Every person I know that has worked in a pregnancy care center is a devoted Christian, a deep well of empathy, and a dynamic problem solver who has walked with many people through unimaginable circumstances.

As we recognize the anniversary of the monumental Dobbs case, we talked to two heroes who have provided a view of pro-life ministry in Tennessee and Illinois. It’s staggering to consider how different their experience has become. 

  • Andrew Wood is the executive director of Hope Resource Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. He hosts a weekly podcast, “A Conversation on Life,” and often speaks and writes on the issue of life around the country. The Hope Resource Center is a cost-free healthcare center for women offering medical care by licensed professionals for reproductive health concerns, education, and connection with community resources. 
  • Kathy Lesnoff worked as a medical assistant in an abortion clinic and is now the president/CEO of Mosaic Health. She currently oversees a staff of 12 with offices in Granite City and Fairview Heights, Illinois, just outside the city of St. Louis, Missouri. They also oversee a mobile medical unit parked next door to Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights.

This article will provide a portrait of today’s varied abortion landscape, as well as inspire churches and individuals in every community to consider how they might join in supporting mothers and families in new ways. 

Jill Waggoner: How did the Dobbs decision affect access to abortion in your area? 

Andrew Wood: My home state of Tennessee passed the “Human Life Protection Act” in 2019 and a “Heartbeat Bill” in 2020. The Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, allowed for these bills to immediately make a difference across Tennessee. The reality on the ground here in Knoxville and across the state, however, was felt as the abortion providers quickly closed their doors or altered drastically the services they provided after the Dobbs decision. 

Kathy Lesnoff: Illinois has long been considered a “sanctuary state” for abortion. However, the Dobbs decision took this idea to a whole new level. As many states across the nation proceeded to pass laws that made abortion illegal or severely limited, Illinois opened three more abortion facilities along border cities. Additionally, Planned Parenthood launched a mobile medical unit for the sole purpose of providing abortions along state lines, thereby providing even more access to abortion in Illinois.

JW: How have abortion pills by mail or abortion tourism affected the families you serve? 

AW: We are well aware that women in Tennessee are seeking abortion pills via the mail and are even traveling across state lines into bordering states to access abortion providers that are unavailable in Tennessee. This awareness has prompted partnerships and cooperation with other pregnancy centers in bordering states so that we can assist and provide care for men and women that may be making that drive in one direction or another. We believe that these partnerships will only foster better environments to serve our patients. 

KL: Over 54% of abortions are now medical. Women are opting for the pill as they feel it is an easier option with less guilt attached. To meet this increased demand, more pregnancy centers, including Mosaic Health, are offering abortion pill reversal.

Mosaic has seen multiple patients from other states whose travel has been covered by their employer. We have witnessed an increase in abortion tourism as license plates from over 30 states were seen at a local abortion facility just last year alone.

JW: How has the abortion culture of your state changed since Dobbs

AW: Laws can certainly make a difference, but you don’t change the culture overnight with a piece of legislation. Abortion was the law of the land for five decades in this country and, although a giant shift was made via Dobbs, there is still much work to do in cultivating a ethic with a high value of life. 

In Tennessee, we have been successful in legislating a decline in abortion, and the state should be applauded for that, but we haven’t stopped there. We have also started the process of eliminating obstacles to parenting, fostering environments to allow for families to flourish, and are looking at ways to see public and private partnerships work together to better serve families in need. These partnerships and this work is designed to prevent unplanned pregnancies from ever becoming crisis pregnancies. 

KL: Mosaic Health’s Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) is parked by Planned Parenthood six days a week. Since the Dobbs reversal, we have seen a 72% increase in women seeking an abortion on the MMU. The Dobbs decision incited even more anger from the pro-choice left, and they have been motivated to stop pro-life efforts at all costs. Senate Bill 1909 is evidence of their determination to stop pregnancy centers from providing free, confidential services across the state of Illinois.

JW: How have your client numbers been in the last year? 

AW: We have certainly seen an increase of patients since June 24, 2022. This increase was not unexpected as we knew the abortion landscape would shift if and when Roe was overturned. Year after year we saw a 17% increase in pregnancy test appointments, and we provided more ultrasounds in 2022 than we had the previous six years. Unplanned pregnancy doesn’t take a holiday because of court decisions, new legislation, or pandemics. We have served for 26 years in Knoxville and have witnessed this firsthand year in and year out. 

KL: Since the Dobbs case leak, we have seen a 64% increase across all three of our locations in women considering abortion compared to the previous year.

JW: What are you hearing from the women that come to your center? What is new, and what is the same? 

AW: Our patients are looking for assistance. Some of them are not even aware a court decision was made or a law passed in Tennessee. Others are very aware of the options in front of them, the timelines they must adhere to if they are seeking to travel out of state, and what each state offers in terms of abortion services. 

We are also seeing some women feel a sense of freedom now that abortion is not an option in Tennessee. In the past, they have felt a burden or as if abortion was being thrust upon them due to their circumstances. They feel very different now that abortion has been removed, at least in Tennessee, from their decision-making process. 

Unfortunately, we are also hearing from patients that are getting little to no follow-up care after traveling out of state for an abortion. This lack of care is frustrating as women are forced to walk through these difficult days and decisions alone and with no oversight from the very ones that provided them with the abortion in the first place. 

KL: What is new is the urgency with which many want to have an abortion and as mentioned previously, the interest in the abortion pill. Many more women know there are gestational time limitations for the abortion pill. Also new is the amount of gender-confused patients we are serving.

What remains the same is that women are convinced abortion is the best option for their future. They are emboldened to choose abortion and empowered by the self-centeredness of the current culture.

JW: What do you see as the greatest need from churches and other pro-life partners in the coming days? 

AW: I have often answered this question with material needs. This need will never go away. However, I think our greatest need today is discipleship. We need a smooth onramp for our patients to get connected to the local church. We need our patients to be discipled by godly women. We need our patients’ significant others to be discipled by godly men. 

We hold to a high value of life in our pregnancy centers because God created life. In the same way, we hold a high value of marriage and parenthood. Our culture is good at detaching these good and godly things from each other. We shouldn’t be surprised when the next generation lives out this detached life as they are attending more baby showers than wedding showers. The answers our patients are seeking aren’t going to be found in the culture of detachment. Instead, the answer is found in Scripture, which is taught, discussed, and lived out in the local church. 

It is my prayer that pregnancy centers across this country would have church partners lined up seeking to assist, certainly, in material needs, but more importantly in the discipleship of men, women, and babies who are making their way to thousands of pregnancy centers every single day. 

Imagine that in 10 years this onramp from the pregnancy center to the local church is flourishing with families that value God, life, marriage, and parenthood. I believe this partnership is the key to the trajectory shift we so desperately need in today’s society. We must not divorce the life issue from the Great Commandment (Love God and love your neighbor) and the Great Commission (go and make disciples.) Once we understand this, we will be well positioned to serve, love, and disciple those in need. 

KL: The greatest need from churches is a boldness to proclaim the truth regarding the life issue from the pulpit. We are seeing an increased number of women claiming to be Christians choosing abortion. We need godly leadership and voices who are unafraid to share the value of life from conception to natural death with their congregations.

We also need prayer

  • prayer that the hearts and minds of those coming through our doors will change, 
  • prayer for our staff and volunteers who are engaging in a battle of life and death every day, 
  • and prayer for the culture of death in our state to transform into a culture of life. 

We believe that God hears and answers prayer.

And we need financial partnership. It would be impossible to operate a single ultrasound machine, pay nursing staff, and offer free pregnancy tests without the financial support of generous churches and individuals throughout our community. For Mosaic Health, the past 37 years has been a testament to how unified, life-affirming advocates can transform people and save lives for generations of families to come.

By / Jun 19

Southern Baptists affirm that every life is worthy of protection, beginning with the unborn. We believe life begins at conception, and that abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection. Scripture is clear that every person is made in the image of God – including the unborn – and his knowledge of the unborn even precedes the creative act of conception (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13).

Southern Baptists affirm that every human is created in the image of God. As stated in a 2021 resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Bible “clearly and unequivocally affirms the sanctity of every human life made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27; 9:6), a truth to which Christians in every century have testified and are called to bear witness in every age and in every sphere of life; and Further, the Convention’s Baptist Faith & Message affirms that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and calls us to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 removes all restrictions and limits on abortion, provides federal protection for pharmaceutical abortion, and allows for abortion up to the point of birth. Additionally, this bill removes all pro-life protections at the federal and state levels and eliminates a state’s ability to legislate on abortion by preventing government officials from interfering with any person providing or receiving abortion services. This bill also fails to protect American consciences and would force taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.

Abortion is not healthcare. If human dignity is given to each person when created in the womb, then abortion is not only an assault on the image of God but also irreparable harm on a vulnerable life. We believe abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection, and therefore cannot be considered as healthcare.

The ERLC strongly opposed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023. This is one of the most pro-abortion bills to ever be considered, and we urge Congress to reject this harmful bill. It would put thousands of vulnerable, preborn lives at risk and steamroll over the consciences of millions of Americans who do not wish to be compelled to provide or pay for abortions.

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 4

I will always remember exactly where I was when the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was officially announced, overturning the Supreme Court’s infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Dobbs upheld a Mississippi law which severely limited abortion after 15 weeks gestation. Now individual state legislatures would be enabled to decide how the abortion issue would be adjudicated in each state. 

I had prayed many times since 1973 that God would allow me to live long enough to witness Roe v. Wade and its virtual “abortion-on-demand mandate” being tossed on the ash heap of history. I had always been confident that God was going to answer my prayer affirmatively, but it was still indescribably special when it happened. 

I was overwhelmed by intense gratitude to God on behalf of myself and the millions of pro-life advocates with whom I had worked and marched over the preceding half century. We owe so much to the tens of millions of pro-life Americans, living and dead, who gave generously of their time, talents, and finances over many, many years in defense of our preborn fellow human beings’ right to life. I praised God for giving us this great victory for the preborn, and I thanked God for the multitudes of fellow pro-lifers who God used to bring about this victory for a truly righteous and holy cause. 

I have often trembled for my country when I realized how God detests abortions and how harshly he judged child sacrifice in the Old Testament. If God did not spare his chosen people, the Jews, from severe judgment for child sacrifice (Jer. 7:30-32), I knew he certainly would judge America for similarly heinous, pagan disregard for the sacred nature of all human life. 

This year we also observed the 60th anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council. The major reforms in Roman Catholicism initiated by that historic conclave helped forge the cultural rapprochement between American Evangelicals and Roman Catholics that resulted in that powerful pro-life, interfaith alliance. Without that “common cause” and interdenominational cooperation at the local, as well as at the national level, it is extremely doubtful that Roe would have been relegated to an example of truly egregious Supreme Court decision in legal textbooks.

This has been a long journey for me personally. I have been consciously “pro-life” since my sophomore year in high school in 1964. It was in the spring of that year that I had my first “encounter” with what I now know was a 12- to 14-week-old human fetus. One of my classmates had done her biology term project on human fetal development. As part of her project, she had this undeniably human fetus displayed in a formaldehyde container. (Her father was an obstetrician and had provided the fetus.) I was shocked that this little baby boy’s body was stored just casually leaning against the classroom wall until it was time for her presentation. 

From that moment on, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that each preborn child was a fellow human being and that his or her humanity was undeniable from the moment of conception onward. I believe God gave me that disturbing experience at that early stage of my life in order to help prepare me for the pro-life debate that he knew was coming. Interestingly, just six months earlier, I had committed my life to full-time Christian service and had been “licensed” to gospel ministry.

The task ahead

After a few hours of praising God for allowing us victory in overturning Roe, I focused on the difficult and arduous task ahead. The words of Winston Churchill came to mind. Reflecting on the Allied victory at El Alamein in World War II, the great wartime leader observed, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

The pro-life movement has won a significant and necessary victory in returning the abortion issue to the people. Tragically, the last five decades of abortion on demand in America have greatly advanced what Pope John Paul II rightly labeled as the “Culture of Death.” The reality is that Americans remain deeply divided on the issue of abortion. Polling shows that nationwide, the majority of Americans reject abortion after the first trimester.1 Unfortunately, they do not yet see that, according to biblical revelation, and as reflected in the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolutions on abortion, the only exception to making abortion illegal is to save the mother’s life.2 (I personally believe that ultimately we must have a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution to protect all our preborn citizens. However, in a democracy, it will take a great spiritual awakening to accomplish that feat.) Complicating matters further, there are dramatic differences in opinion within the various states, with California, New York, and Massachusetts allowing abortion up to the moment of birth, as opposed to overwhelmingly pro-life policies such as those found in many of the Southern and Southwestern states. 

Now, the pro-life movement must take up the cause in each state, understanding that it still, first and foremost, is a struggle for hearts and minds. The abortion issue is the leading edge of a much more fundamental debate between the culture of life and the culture of death, between a “sanctity of life” ethic versus a “quality of life” ethic, which inevitably is grounded in the answer to the question, “Who and what is a human being?”

For those of us in the pro-life movement, there is no question concerning the fundamental answer to that most consequential question. The Bible has made it clear that every human being is of incalculable value to God because he sent his Son to die for them (John 3:16). Our Heavenly Father oversees and superintends the process of the formation of each new life so that every one of us, from the moment of conception, is the unique, never-to-be-duplicated, human being that God made each of us to be (Psa. 139:13-16).

It was God’s revelation of himself to the Jews in the Old Testament that resulted in the Hebrew civilization being the only culture in the Mediterranean basin that did not routinely practice both infanticide and abortion on demand. This biblical understanding carried over into the New Testament as evidenced by the fact that early in the post-apostolic era (circa AD 130), The Didache—a type of early church manual with catechisms and doctrinal teachings—condemned abortion as unacceptable for Christians in the midst of a Greco-Roman culture where abortion and infanticide were routine.

The pro-life movement in America is at a hinge point in its spiritual and cultural history. “Time” in the historical sense is not equal. Certain times are more important than others. The Apostle Paul said it clearly when he instructed the Ephesian Christians: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16, KJV).

In Greek there are two words for time. One word, chronos, denotes time in its chronological, 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week sense. The other word, kairos, is the one the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to use here, which signifies time in its strategic, opportune moments. Paul instructs Christians to seize upon these propitious moments, “redeeming” each one for good, because the days are “evil,” which is not kakos or evil as a state of being, but poneros, which is active, aggressive, pernicious evil. 

As we in the pro-life movement go foward, we must understand that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as we seek to rescue as many babies as possible at every step in the process. While our ultimate goal must be to radically reduce legal abortion to the single exception of saving the mother’s life, we should never allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. In the interim, if we find ourselves, by political necessity, having to temporarily compromise by accepting laws that allow abortions at up to 6 weeks’, or 9 weeks’, or 12 weeks’ gestation, etc., then let us covenant together that we will save all the babies we can and then continue in the struggle for hearts and minds, coming back again and again with ever more protections for the unborn. The final goal must always be to rescue as many babies as possible.

Lessons learned

Over the past five decades, those of us in the pro-life movement have learned some important lessons. First, our God is a God of righteousness, but he is also a God of forgiveness and redemption, and we should always couple our condemnation of abortion with the message of forgiveness and healing at the foot of the cross. We must understand that in every abortion there are at least two victims, the baby and his or her mother. We should do our best to always minister to both victims our Savior’s redeeming, healing love.

We must ask God to give us the spirit of the prophet Jeremiah, who, while he condemned the grievous sins of the people, did so with a catch in his voice and a tear in his eye, as he wept over the sins of the people and the terrible consequences which inevitably followed in the wake of their idolatry and wickedness.

Also, wherever possible, we should promote and support Christian women as leaders and spokespersons for our movement. I learned early on that when pro-abortion advocates are forced to debate pro-life leaders who are women, they lose at least half of their arguments when they can’t engage in bashing males for “wanting to control women’s bodies.” 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and we should do everything we possibly can through sonograms and other audio-visual media to present our fellow citizens with the undeniable humanity of preborn babies. One tremendous evidence of this is the astounding success of the Psalm 139 Project, which affords pregnant mothers the opportunity to see sonograms of their babies. We know from those who serve in pregnancy resource centers that the ability to see ultrasound images is extremely important in helping mothers to choose to carry their babies to term. Everything we can do to promote the ministries of pregnancy resource centers across the land should be done. I hope and pray that Southern Baptists will make it our goal to have at least one pro-life pregnancy resource center in every Baptist association in every state in the Union.

And we must do everything we can in word and deed to refute the libel that the pro-life movement is only pro-life from conception to birth. We should make it clear that we are pro-life from conception to natural death and everywhere in between. 

Finally, we should always remember that Jesus commanded us to be salt and light (Matt. 3:13-16). The salt of the law can severely restrict abortions in our country, and we must do so. However, there is a limit to what the law can do. We must also represent the light of the gospel, which transforms hearts and minds. The salt of the law can change actions. Only the light of the gospel can change attitudes. The salt of the law can change behaviors. Only the light of the gospel can change beliefs. The salt of the law can change habits. Only the light of the gospel can change hearts.

Our pro-abortion opponents are not the enemy. They are under the influence and sway of the Prince of Darkness, who is our true enemy. Let us resolve in our hearts to demonstrate the redeeming love of our Savior to all our opponents. As Dr. King so often reminded us, those whom you would change, you must first love! 

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