Lessons to be Learned from American Pro-Life Movement
Friday, 24 June 2022, the Feast of St John the Baptist, will be a date which will live in infamy amongst the supporters of abortion. On that date, the US Supreme Court, overturned the precedent set by the same court in 1973 known as Roe vs Wade. Americans proponents of abortion howled with indignation. UK proponents howled only slightly less so with the chief difference being the accents used to express their “moral” outrage that an immoral ruling had been cast aside. Dobbs vs Jackson undid Roe vs Wade.
The US Supreme Court’s remit is constitutionally straightforward. Article 3, Section 2 limits its authority to cases arising from the US Constitution. In the years leading up to and following the 1973 Court, it had strayed from its constitutional function and started legislating by judicial fiat.
The Court’s ruling on the case in question says in part,
“Until the latter part of the 20th century, there was no support in American law for a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. No state constitutional provision had recognized such a right. Until a few years before Roe, no federal or state court had recognized such a right. Nor had any scholarly treatise. Indeed, abortion had long been a crime in every single State. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions. By the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, three-quarters of the States had made abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. This consensus endured until the day Roe was decided. Roe either ignored or misstated this history, and Casey declined to reconsider Roe’s faulty historical analysis.” US Supreme Court, Dobbs vs Jackson page 3.
The Court stated what had been obvious from the start of the matter. The US Constitution says nothing about abortion—let alone establishing it as a constitutionally protected right.
Gentle Readers might ask, “Why is the English Churchman editorial about a court ruling in a foreign country?” Because it is instructive regarding situation in which the Church finds itself in this green and pleasant land. That is why.
Not all our American cousins have completely lost the memory or good sense of their forebears. The Church there, save for the uber liberals, never accepted that abortion was a good thing. For almost fifty years they met, they wept, they prayed, they marched—and they voted until a man was elected President who pledged to only nominate people to the Supreme Court who held the strict constructionist position on the US Constitution. He kept his promise and each of the justices nominated by that president did as they promised. Would-be judicial legislators were excluded.
They objected to abortion not out of a desire to control anyone’s body. Rather, they objected because of the clear teaching of Scripture. As Anglicans we should know (if we are passingly familiar with the Articles of Religion) that whilst the “Ceremonies and Rites” aspects of the OT has been fulfilled, the Moral Law still stands (Article VII).
It is in Exodus 21 that we find the way that God views an unborn child. In verse 23, we find that if two men in a fight are so careless that they strike a pregnant woman so that she or the child she is carrying is killed—their lives are to be forfeited. Does it not then stand to reason that God views that unborn life as no less than fully human? Does not the Scripture record that John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb at the approach of his unborn cousin, Jesus, the Messiah? Of course it does. (Luke 1:41)
Our American cousins have shown us that persistence in doing good will result in good things in the here and now—not just eternity. They “do God.” So should we.