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January 23, 2019

Many were alarmed and dispirited by footage this week of raucous cheering in the New York State Senate chamber. The “Happy Days Are Here Again” sort of celebration wasn’t for a bill to guarantee health care or repair roads or to reform the government. The applause and laughter was instead for a bill to remove any protections as persons from unborn children at any stage of pregnancy. While this video does indeed tell us much about the culture in which we live right now I actually think another piece of footage tells us more.

A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of a video series in which children ask questions of an adult. One episode featured an adult who was a mortician, for instance, in order to talk about death and grieving. This particular episode was a conversation between children and a woman who has had an abortion. What struck me the most is that it was a kind of Sunday school.

As someone who believes strongly in Sunday school, I’ve always bristled at the use of the term “Sunday school answer.” I get what the term is meant to imply: a shallow, surface-level answer that is given by children because they know what the adults around them expect. An old pulpit cliché would often talk about the Sunday school teacher who, about to tell a story about a squirrel, asked children what was furry, with a bushy tale, climbed trees, and stored up nuts for the winter. One child is said to have replied, “I know the answer is ‘Jesus,’ but I’m just trying to figure out how to get there.” The point of the cliché is that there’s a real answer, but then there’s the answer one is supposed to give.

That’s what appears to have happened in this interview between the abortion-rights activist and the children. The children seem to be trying to give the “right” answer. One says that abortion is okay, as long as it for “good reasons.” This answer is obviously the wrong one, as the adult seems to chastise him for differentiating between “good” reasons and “bad” reasons. Children keep using the word “baby” in reference to the “choice” that abortion is supposed to be about. The activist, whenever encountering some moral hesitation about abortion, asks the children whether their families are religious, as if to explain some irrational repression. The children seem to be trying to find what it is the adults want them to say, but there are some moral realities they can’t help but bump into along the way.

That’s both the good news and the bad news for those of us who believe in human dignity and the protection of human life, regardless of age, size, or vulnerability. In order to see the realities around us, we must have a thick Augustinian vision of both human createdness and human fallenness.

The fallen nature of humanity is evident. Who could cheer the potential to stop the beating hearts of children who are, in some cases, just weeks away from birth? And the closer one gets to the issue, the more one sees just how blinded by injustice people can get.

For the rest of the post…

“Tuesday, January 22, 2019 is the tragic 46-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Since then, 61 million babies have been aborted in America. The number worldwide, since 1980, is a ghastly 1.5 billion. It is a horror past finding out.”

Desiring God Site…

41 years after Roe v. Wade, abortion still demands consideration

Posted on Jan. 19, 2014

For The Maine Campus

Wednesday is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. About 57 million fetuses have been aborted in the U.S. since then.

Looking back at history, we often struggle to understand how people can be blind — or just silent — to the evils around them. We don’t understand how the idea that racism and slavery are normal and unproblematic could be popularly held, or how Germans under Hitler could fail to notice the persecution of millions of Jews. But we are so much a product of our own time that it is nearly impossible to step back from ourselves and identify what we are doing wrong, and even if we do, we are usually too scared to say or do anything. This is not merely a passive mistake. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor during World War II who was executed for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

This is not a sideline issue: If these are human beings being aborted, then since 1973, as a nation, we are guilty of 57 million murders. That is what is at stake if you think abortion is right and you are actually wrong. To apathetically write this off is to choose to ignore a practice with more than nine times the death toll of the Holocaust.

For the rest of the post…

by KATHLEEN NIELSON

Anniversary Pictures: Remembering Roe v. Wade

Imagining a concrete picture can bring abstract truth to life. To help us understand what this month’s 40th anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States means, one Care Net website offers this picture:

[I]magine Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and Miller Park in Milwaukee filled with fans. Now consider this: to host more than 55 million people, all three of these stadiums would need to fill to capacity 290 separate times!

We cannot undo this human tragedy, this dark undercurrent in a culture marked by an inflow of countless material things and an outflow of discarded life. To be specific—more than 55 million discarded human lives since Roe v. Wade was decided in January 1973. Many, though, are helping invade the darkness with the light by pursuing these actions, which we can aim to pursue more faithfully every passing year, along with God’s people and by God’s grace.

1. Remember

For many, the reality of abortion breaks in only every now and then. For so many others, though, abortion is a personal, ongoing reality. As Albert Mohler reminds us in a thought-provoking article (responding to Time magazine’s January cover story), at current rates one out of every three American women will have an abortion by age 45. That means a huge percentage of the women with whom we attend church, shop for groceries, work, exercise, and raise children carry painful abortion stories inside them. Men carry them as well. Many of these stories are not yet resolved.

This issue should seem to us as real as a deep, bleeding cut on a friend’s hand: we’ll notice it. . . . it will affect the way we reach out our hands. . . . it will make us aim to help heal.

2. Pray

In the Bible, healing involves prayer. Abortion is hard to pray about, in a way. Often Christians pray that God would “heal our land,” claiming the beautiful promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14. That promise, of course, was originally directed to the nation of God’s people, and so we sometimes struggle to understand how it applies or does not apply to nations like the one Americans inhabit today. We can know for sure, though, that those words speak to God’s people. We can be certain that we are called to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.

We can start by praying for the people around us in Christ’s body, the ones with whom we worship—and the ones whom we would like to bring into the church. We can get to know the women God brings into our lives and share their ongoing stories. There’s nothing like ministering to real people to make us pray.

3. Offer Gospel Hope

As believers, we know the gospel is the “ground zero” of healing. Counseling in general can prop up a woman or a man, but counseling that tells the truth about who Jesus is and what he has done for us offers the only lasting hope. Counseling that offers the food of the Word of God feeds people with what they need to live—and to choose life over death. Many Christian pro-life clinics these days offer not just pre- but also post-abortion Bible-based counseling, aiming not just to stop the taking of babies’ lives but also to offer eternal life in Christ to all who will hear. Women and men in life-and-death crises often have open ears to hear.

Even if we’re not involved directly in such formal counseling, we are all involved in daily conversations with needy people—usually more needy than we ever realize. What if we were more ready to offer biblical words of hope and encouragement? What if we were a little less fearful? A few years ago, in a talk to college students, I addressed this topic of abortion with some trepidation. The dramatic response by both female and also male students took me by surprise. The Spirit and the Word do their work to open avenues of gospel healing and hope.

4. Add Concrete Action

As we realize the depths of this tragedy not only in our own nation but also globally, we can help in other ways, as God leads us.

For the rest of the post…

by JOE CARTER

9 Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

On the fortieth anniversary of the landmark abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, a new pollshows the majority of people under 30 can’t name what the case was about. Only 44 percent among those ages 18 to 29 know it dealt with abortion. In an attempt to help fill that knowledge gap, here are 9 things young people—and everyone else—should know about Roe:

1. Contrary to the popular conception, Roe does not limit abortion to the first trimester but institutionalized abortion on demand in all 50 states. As the Supreme Court wrote in the 1992 case Casey v. Planned Parenthood, “we reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe.”

2. Another abortion case that was decided the same day as Roe was Doe v. Bolton. The Court’s opinion in Doe v. Bolton stated that a woman may obtain an abortion after viability, if necessary to protect her health. The Court defined “health” as follows:

Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute, “an abortion is necessary” is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.

As Ramesh Ponnuru has explained,

The ‘attending physician’—in real life, very often an abortionist with a financial stake in the decision—can always say that in his medical judgment, the abortion was necessary to preserve the woman’s emotional ‘health,’ especially considered in light of her ‘familial’ situation. Any prosecution would have to be abandoned as unconstitutional. In other words: The Supreme Court has effectively forbidden any state from prohibiting abortion even in the final stages of abortion.

In the Roe decision Justice Harry Blackmun said that the two opinions—Roe and Doe—”of course, are to be read together.”

3. Even legal scholars who agree with legalized abortion have admitted that the reasoning in the Roe decision—which was written by Justice Blackmun—was shoddy. Edward Lazarus, a former clerk for Justice Blackmun, has written that, “. . . as a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is now herself a Supreme Court Justice, wrote in a 1985 law review article that, “One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”

4. The majority of American states were not moving toward liberal abortion laws beforeRoe. In 1971, on the eve of Roe, legislation to repeal abortion laws was voted down in Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Ohio.

5. Because of the Roe decision, America is (along with Canada) one of the only Western countries in offering no legal protection to the unborn at any stage of development.

6. In a 1971 resolution on abortion, the Southern Baptist Convention resolved that “society has a responsibility to affirm through the laws of the state a high view of the sanctity of human life, including fetal life.” However, the largest Protestant denomination in America had a peculiar definition of sanctity of human life, for the very next sentence called upon Southern Baptists to “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion” under such conditions as ‘fetal deformity’ and ‘damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.’ Three years later—and two years after Roe codified this position into law—the SBC reaffirmed the resolution. It wasn’t until 1980 that the SBC finally condemned abortion as a grave evil.

7. “Jane Roe” was the legal pseudonym for Norma McCorvey the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. In the 1980s, McCorvey claimed she had been the “pawn” of two young and ambitious lawyers who were looking for a plaintiff with whom they could challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion. In the late-1990s, McCorvey was working at a Dallas abortion clinic when the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue moved its offices next door. She says Rev. Phillip Benham, Operation Rescue’s national director, started “sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ” with her. She later became a Christian and committed pro-life advocate.

8. No one knows precisely how many illegal abortions there were before Roe, but in 1981three researchers estimated a range from “a low of 39,000 (1950) to a high of 210,000 (1961) and a mean of 98,000 per year.” In 2009, 784,507 legal induced abortions were reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 48 reporting areas.

9. Slightly more than half (54%) of white evangelicals, according to the Pew Research Center study, favor completely overturning RoeNo other religious group, including white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, and white Catholics, agreed with completely overturning the ruling. In fact, substantial majorities of white Protestants (76%), black Protestants (65%), and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be over turned, the survey found.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator.

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