I decided to sit down and actually read the Roe v Wade decision. I suggest doing it yourself. Here’s a link to it if you’re so inclined.
Many people are unfamiliar with what it actually argues and why. If they know anything about it, they know “Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in all 50 states.” They are wrong in that assessment.
Let me summarize the argument that the court actually made in very plain English:
- We think a mother has a constitutional right to an abortion (in some situations), under the “right of privacy” primarily “found” in the ninth and fourteenth amendments.
- Texas has a law that says it’s a crime to have an abortion unless it’s to save the life of the mother.
- If the baby being aborted is actually a “person,” then Texas has a right to protect that person, or make it a crime to kill that person.
- We think it’s best to say that a baby becomes a “person” somewhere near the end of the first trimester, but we’re not exactly sure…
- Therefore, Texas can’t prohibit abortions during the first trimester, but they can after that point, if they want to.
That’s really it. Now let me summarize a few other fundamental realities before I start in with a few points of contention.
First, it’s a common misstatement to say, “Roe v. Wade made abortion legal.” Roe v. Wade didn’t make it legal. For something to be “made legal” it has to be “written into law.” No federal law exists that permits or protects abortion. Court precedent exists that sides in favor of abortion. This distinction in terms is very important. For something to be “written into law” a law has to be written (go figure). For that to happen, in the U.S., a bill must be written, voted on by both houses of congress and signed by the president. The court is not a law-making branch of government.
The Roe v Wade decision is not a law. It’s an opinion of the court. It gets treated like law (it’s called “black letter law”) and “well established case law” (which Roe v Wade is) always gets treated as if the house and senate wrote a bill and voted on it, as the constitution ACTUALLY stipulates… but the fact is, that’s all a semantic word-game that lawyers and judges play to avoid the reality. They’ll say the reality is that access to abortion is the law of the land.
To describe the reality more accurately: abortion isn’t legal, it’s just been decided over and over again in court that you won’t be punished by the State (the government) for doing it. Those are two different things technically (and I think importantly so) but in practice they work out to the same thing because nobody puts up a fight. To put it another way, court precedent, “case law,” has the “effect of law,” but it is not actually law itself.
And so I reaffirm my title: abortion’s not legal in the U.S. you just won’t get in trouble for doing it.
Second, legality is not morality. I’ve written a whole post about this before, but suffice it to say, what’s legal isn’t the same thing as what’s right. I’m much more concerned with what’s right (that standard comes from God) than what’s legal (that standard comes from man). So, even if abortion was “legal” (which it isn’t), it would do nothing to affect its status as “immoral.”
Okay, now let’s actually review Roe v. Wade.
Reviewing Roe v Wade
There is a quote in the dissenting view written by William Rehnquist, one of the the most fascinating judicial minds of all time, that sums up the real problem, and heart of the issue. You may have noticed the issue to which I’m referring in the way I summarized the decision above.
Rehnquist said, “to reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment.”
To put it another way, the court had to essentially argue, “we think the writers of the fourteenth amendment meant to include abortion when they wrote the fourteenth amendment.”
If you don’t know, the fourteenth amendment is the one that was written in 1868, just after the civil war, that granted full citizenship to freed slaves.
It states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Read it carefully, and then think about the context in which it was written. Now ask yourself the question, “Were these people thinking at all about abortion when they wrote this?”
If you’re honest, you’ll recognize that the writers of this amendment didn’t have anything like “the right to kill my baby” in mind when they mentioned the “privileges… of citizens in the United States” that would have “equal protection under the law.” As Rehnquist brilliantly observed, the court had to slip such a ridiculous right into the amendment themselves. They definitely didn’t find it there.
Of course, the court did this not by outright stating “yeah, we’re making up a right.” They did it by conceiving of that right in other places, and other court cases, and disguising this miraculous conception with legal jargon.
Frankly, this conception is one pregnancy I’m happy to abort.
Let me prove to you that they made up this right, using their own words…
The justices’ majority opinion said, “This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” And later, “We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision…”
Yeah, they went with the argument, “it’s so broad, it didn’t say not to include the right to kill babies… *raises eyebrows and shrugs*”
But even this court was not so naïve as to think that they would get away with an outright carte blanche on baby killing, so they added just after it, “…but this right is not unqualified, and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.”
They then go on to explain their reasoning in limiting carte blanche baby killing to only the first trimester. They talk about the development of an embryo to a fetus, and the philosophy of “personhood.” They state in their deliberation, “Although the results are divided, most of these courts have agreed that the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute, and is subject to some limitations; and that, at some point, the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life, become dominant. We agree with this approach.”
Yes, the Roe v. Wade decision itself specifically says that human life inside the womb is still human life… they just can’t be bothered to figure out when that life “begins,” and they outright refuse to even try.
In shirking their responsibility on this point, they say, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”
You read that right. They argue out of both sides of their mouth. They say first, “obviously at some point in the development, far prior to birth, we can’t argue it isn’t a human” and then turn around and say “we’re not qualified to say when life begins.” I’ve got an idea: If you think something even might be alive… DON’T KILL IT.
Here’s the astounding part. They even outright state that the law would SPECIFICALLY GUARANTEE the child protection, if it’s actually a person. They say, “The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. […] If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.”
So, here’s my very moderate and agreeable idea of how this court should’ve decided: Since we can’t or won’t answer the question of when life begins, and the legality of abortion is dependent on that answer, we cannot decide and therefore leave it up to the states to regulate.
Here’s my wacky and zany, emotional, idea of how this court should’ve decided: Since we don’t know when life begins, but a good portion of respected people argue that it’s at conception, we’ll side in favor of the most conservative guesses (that is, assume it’s life as early as it might possibly be life) and protect it, because we don’t want a mass genocide of children on our conscience.
But those two decisions would just make too much sense. So we’re left with 58 million deaths since then, and counting.
The Reality of Abortion
Here’s the reality: abortion is murder. I don’t write about this topic much because there’s really not a lot to say. Abortion is murder. Murder is wrong. End of story. Biblically speaking, abortion is completely indefensible. They use terms more brutally honest (and descriptive) when talking about abortion. The preferred term in the Old Testament is “ripping open pregnant women.” (You should check out the homegroup lesson on the biblical view of abortion. It’s good stuff.)
The advent of sonogram technology has made it remarkably clear how distinctly human pre-born children are. Every surgical abortion procedure known to man involves ripping a child apart, either by suction or by grabbing and pulling. At the end of a procedure, an abortionist has to count up the body parts and make sure he didn’t leave any limbs behind.
This is not a neutral issue. This is not “women’s reproductive rights” or a “women’s health issue.” This is murder. Plain and simple. Cold-blooded, selfish, I’m-killing-you-because-your-life-inconveniences-me murder. There is no second option.
I could recount the feminist arguments here for why abortion is “necessary” and refute each one (…and If you want me to do so, just shoot me an email. I’ll do it if you ask nicely.) but right now, I don’t see the point. There’s only one argument I’ll address right now, and it’s the one that Texas addressed in their law which got struck down.
Texas made it illegal to perform an abortion except “for the purpose of saving the life of the mother.” This has always been understood as the only time abortion is a morally permissible option. If you literally have to choose between the mother and the child, of course you save the mother.
The morally permissible abortions account for less than 0.6% by the most liberal of estimates. Texas’s law did protect the actual right women have concerning abortion, the right to life-saving treatment. (though, even that I believe is not a right, but a privilege… but that’s an inflammatory statement intended to get you to read another blog post for another time…)
99.4% of the time, mothers don’t NEED abortions… they simply WANT them.
All of this is really irrelevant, however, because the Supreme Court stated in their decision that if a “fetus” is a “person” then the appellant’s case collapses. Again, thanks to sonograms, and other imaging technology, and the pictures of aborted baby body parts pieced together after they’ve been ripped, literally, limb from limb, makes it impossible to deny the humanity, the personhood, of the child in question. If this post weren’t already as long as it is, I would go into the theological, philosophical, social, and economic reasons why every baby that’s been aborted under the blind eye of the courts IS actually a person. The reality is, that’s really not necessary. Everyone knows the truth, they’re just too selfish to admit it.
Women considering an abortion: Stop considering. It’s murder. There are plenty of alternatives. Call or email me and I’ll talk you through them.
Women who have had an abortion: You were wrong for doing so. Repent. Change your mind about what you did. Agree with God that you did an awful thing, and accept the forgiveness he offers for it. Praise Him! Love God for the grace he extends to wicked and sinful humans like you and like me. Believe me when I say, I’ve done worse things than you have, and I have experienced the grace of God for my sins. You are not outside the realms of his loving-kindness.
Men who encourage women to get abortions: Shame on you. How dare you pressure a woman into committing murder. I would pray down some of the imprecatory Psalms on you, but not even their language is strong enough. You commit a worse evil than the woman you encourage toward sin. You become the deceiver himself in her life. Repent! Repent NOW!
Men and women who perform abortions: STOP! Stop killing people for money. You are acting as hired assassins.
Everyone: Believe the gospel. Please, please, please, believe the gospel. I’m on my knees as I write this. The gospel is the only hope that any of us have.
This is the gospel:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one is perfect, and if you want to be on God’s “good side” you have to be perfect. If you’re not perfect, you receive death. God the Son loved sinners by taking on flesh and dying in their place. He traded his perfection for their sin. After doing so, he rose from the dead and demonstrated that there is a hope for eternal life.
To be saved from death, have eternal life, all you must do is believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, (God in flesh), and if you really do believe that, you will be saved from death.
If you really do believe that, a lot of things will happen as a result as well. You’ll obey his commands, you’ll love your neighbor, you’ll help the needy, and develop a character more in-line with your new nature. These are not necessary for salvation, but they are realistic effects of it.
Believe these things and I’ll see you in the eschaton. Believe these things because they are true. Believe these things because your life depends upon it.
Refuse to believe these things, and you will be cast into the lake of fire, where you will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. I do not what that to happen to you, but I’m not going to lie to you and say it won’t happen. So I say again, please, for God’s sake, please believe the gospel.