June 24, 2022

Life After Roe v. Wade

By
Scott Blakeman
Legal

Life After Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land when it comes to abortion policy. Praise God! The Supreme Court has reversed nearly five decades of unconstitutional legal precedent and affirmed that there is no constitutional right to end a child’s life in the womb. States may now protect the unborn!

The majority opinion in Dobbs, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, made this crystal clear by stating: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Justice Alito also points out what many have known since Roe began dictating policy on abortion: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Justice Alito then concludes the Court’s opinion with this: “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

This ruling is not only an answer to millions of prayers offered up to God since the Court infamously decided Roe in 1973, but also the culmination of tireless efforts across the country and across generations to protect life. The Dobbs decision is monumental and is great cause for giving thanks to God and celebrating a victory for the unborn. Now, the work of protecting the unborn, supporting and caring for mothers, and creating a culture that affirms life from conception to natural death moves into its next phase.

How did we get here?

  • January 1973: The Supreme Court legalizes abortion throughout the United States in a 7-2 decision.
  • June 1992: In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court issued a 5-4 decision affirming Roe while allowing for limited new restrictions on abortions.  
  • March 2018: Mississippi passes the Gestational Age Act, legislation that ADF attorneys helped draft, prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks (except in cases of medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormality), which ADF helped state lawmakers draft. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi abortion clinic, challenges Mississippi’s law shortly after its passage.
  • June 2020: Working closely with ADF to defend the law in court, Mississippi asks the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that states cannot pass laws like Mississippi’s limiting abortion before the point of viability.
  • May 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
  • December 2021: Oral arguments are heard before the Supreme Court challenging Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act.
  • June 2022: The Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and upholds Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, empowering lawmakers to protect unborn life once again. ADF attorneys proudly served on the state’s legal team to help defend this law.

Empowered to Protect Life

Mother hugging her newborn

Before Roe v. Wade, states regulated abortion. Most states had pro-life laws, either outlawing abortion entirely or only permitting it in rare cases like rape, incest, or if the mother’s life was in danger. Roe turned that upside down. It made the Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of all abortion laws and severely limited states that wished to protect life. The Dobbs decision now returns power to states to protect unborn babies by overturning Roe and rejecting its lawless finding of a right to abortion. As Justice Samuel Alito stated in the Court’s opinion, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

What happens next?

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, state lawmakers can finally protect life. The Supreme Court has correctly clarified that states have an important and legitimate interest in protecting vulnerable and innocent life and, therefore, should be allowed to implement policies that protect life from its earliest stages.

What will happen in my state now that Roe v. Wade is overturned?

It depends on the laws in your state. Broadly speaking, these laws fall into a few categories:

  • Pre-Roe laws: These are laws that existed prior to 1973 but remained unenforced due to Roe. Now that Roe is reversed, these laws, most of which are strongly pro-life, can be enforced once again. States with pre-Roe laws include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • Trigger laws: These are laws that will go into effect (be “triggered”) now that Roe is overturned. Numerous states have pro-life trigger laws. There are 13 states with these pro-life laws preventing most abortions within their borders, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • Enjoined laws: Many states had pro-life laws that were ruled unconstitutional by a court that could be brought back into effect with Roe’s reversal.
  • Pro-abortion laws: Several states have pro-abortion laws that codify a right to abortion in state law. These will remain in effect even though Roe has been reversed.

How will overturning Roe v. Wade affect medical professionals?

Ultrasound

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, states can better protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who view abortion as a violation of their oath to “do no harm.” Pro-life legislation can help guard the integrity of the medical profession and ensure that doctors and other medical professionals can protect life instead of destroying it.

Will abortion end now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned?

Expecting mother holding ultrasound photos

Unfortunately, no. Although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs is a seismic victory for the unborn, there is still much work to be done to end abortion. While many states will protect life, as we saw above, other states have passed (or will attempt to pass) laws that do the opposite. Overturning Roe v. Wade was a crucial first step, but it is only the beginning. The pro-life movement must continue to work to protect innocent life as a human right for everyone, born or unborn.

Overturning Roe is a long-awaited, hard-fought first step in preserving and protecting life, but vital work is still needed to save lives as we try to create a culture that cherishes every single person at every single stage of life. Yes, it’s a time to celebrate and to thank God for this victory. But it’s also a time to steel our resolve, turn to the Lord for wisdom and courage, and look for ways to engage on the issue of protecting innocent, unborn lives, and supporting and empowering mothers and families to create a culture of life.  

As a church or a ministry leader, it’s important to affirm the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. But it’s equally important to create the conditions that will foster a culture of life in which babies, mothers, and families thrive.

The court of public opinion matters, and many believe abortion should be legal. If we don’t win over the hearts and minds of the culture, pro-life laws put in place could soon be overturned.  

Engaging the Church in a Post-Roe World

As the early Church expanded rapidly throughout the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries, one of the hallmarks that set the institution apart from the secular world was its strong opposition to abortion and infanticide. Church communities took seriously the notion that God is the Author of life and that humans are made in His image. This drove them to oppose abortion and care for unwanted children. These convictions, matched with their selfless actions, made Christians distinct among their neighbors. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Church’s pro-life roots go all the way back to its inception.  

Today, the Church has an incredible opportunity to continue its legacy of caring for the unborn, the unwanted, and their moms and dads. The Church can truly stand in the gap and care for society’s most vulnerable members. The world will be watching how Christians and the Church respond to this defining moment in our country’s history. We praise God that more children will be born. But these children, and their parents, will need support if they hope to thrive.

We’ve put together a list of 10 practical ways your church can care for young children and new and expectant mothers in your community.  

CLICK HERE TO READ THE RESOURCE

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