After Roe, what?
Seven Ways to Make abortion unthinkable
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Dobbs is a momentous legal decision. For too long, the court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) placed constitutional obstacles in the path of legal protections for unborn children. Dobbs clears the path.
It does not end abortion, however. Debates about our nation’s abortion laws now shift from courtrooms to legislatures. Missouri, where the Assemblies of God national office is located, became the first state to outlaw abortion, except in cases of medical emergency.
Our Fellowship is committed to the sanctity of life. “By making human beings in His own image, God set them above all other forms of life on earth,” says our position paper on abortion and reproductive issues. “Every human life, from conception through death, is therefore to be valued, respected, nurtured, and protected.”
Our position paper goes on to state: “Whenever abortion and other immoral life-threatening practices present themselves, Christians have an obligation to address these evils in public forums and to seek legislative and judicial redress.”
Voting to change laws and public policies is not our only responsibility, however. The law can restrict the supply of abortion providers, but it does nothing to limit the demand for abortion. As Christians, our larger responsibility is to limit demand by making abortion unthinkable.
Below, I offer a checklist of seven ministries that help us do that. There is an urban legend that Christians only want to prohibit abortion. The reality is that we have been operating pregnancy resource centers, food banks, and other compassion ministries for decades. After Roe, our responsibility to improve, expand, and better publicize those ministries, which include:
1. Prayer. The central petition of the Lord’s Prayer is, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Killing a child in the womb is not God’s will. So, asking God to help change people’s hearts and minds is appropriate.
2. Pregnancy resources. Heartbeat International is the nation’s largest network of pregnancy resource centers. Each year, it serves 1.5 million clients, helping 300,000 expectant mothers choose life. In “Understanding Abortion Statistics,” the organization explains why pregnant women choose abortion:
Women’s reasons for seeking abortion included financial reasons (40 percent), timing (36 percent), partner-related reasons (31 percent), and the need to focus on other children (29 percent). Most women reported multiple reasons for seeking an abortion (64 percent).
These concerns need to be addressed immediately. According to Heartbeat’s research, “The average woman choosing abortion makes the decision within a day of confirming her pregnancy and obtains an abortion within the next week.” If she feels befriended and resourced, she is more likely to choose life.
3. Post-birth resources. As noted above, financial concerns drive many women to choose abortion. Those concerns don’t go away just because they choose life. The Bible teaches us to put our time, talent, and treasure in service of the poor:
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:17–18, emphasis added).
4. Foster care and adoption. As Christians, we want all children to be protected by law and welcomed in life. In any given year, there are approximately 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. The system needs both foster and adoptive parents.
The AG Foster Care Network is holding its first conference Oct. 6–7 in Dallas. Its goal is to network, educate and equip district, church and parachurch leaders to better meet the needs of foster kids and parents. Please consider participating.
5. Discipleship. The church’s mission is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18). A comprehensive discipleship program will include instruction about sexuality. Two elements of that program should be the sanctity of marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and the sanctity of life (Exodus 20:13).
Contemporary culture honors neither the sanctity of marriage nor the sanctity of life. For some, the freedom to have sex outside of marriage requires the right to abortion.
It is not surprising, then, that 85% of women who contemplate abortion are single, according to Heartbeat International. Sadly, thirty-eight percent say their baby’s father had the most influence in their decision to abort. Rather than taking responsibility for their children, these men are pressuring women into abortions.
Our discipleship resources must include teaching about human sexuality, premarital and marriage counseling, and parenting classes.
6. Evangelism. The gospel is the divine solution to the human problem. Paul summarizes both the problem and the solution in Romans 3:23–24. The problem is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The solution is that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We receive this justification “by faith apart from the works of the law” (verse 28).
Many women who choose abortion feel guilt and shame afterward. They know they made a sinful choice. Men who pressured their girlfriends or wives into abortion can have similar feelings. Even abortion providers sometimes come to recognize the sinfulness of their actions.
Our goal is to provide a clear pathway to repentance and restoration for people who have participated in the sin of abortion.
7. Collaboration. Choosing life can feel like a daunting task. Women considering abortion may feel alone, under-resourced and overwhelmed. Local churches sometimes feel they don’t have the resources to meet needs in their communities.
You don’t have to feel alone — and neither do the people in your community. The Church can come alongside women considering abortion with a message of hope and acts of compassion. Local churches and organizations can partner with others to meet the needs.
I celebrate the fact that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade. It does not change the Church’s responsibilities to pregnant women and their children, however. After Roe, let us redouble our ministries to them demonstrating that the good news of the gospel cares as much about our bodies as it does our souls.
Abortion will become unthinkable when humanity realizes that “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance” (Ephesians 2:10).
This article appears in the Spring 2022 edition of Influence magazine.