Roe vs. Wade
I confess, I never thought I’d see the day. Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right to have an abortion was constitutionally protected. That the unborn had no rights…or few rights. And since that day, 62 million little lives have been taken. 62 million! It is a number so staggering; it beggars comprehension.
Those of us who believed that Psalm 139 was true, that God knew us while we were yet in our mother’s womb, that God made us and made us wonderfully…tried to stand against this juggernaut. We prayed, we wrote letters, we gave our money, we protested. Yes, I protested. It was the only time I ever carried a protest sign. We did all these things…but as decades passed, there was an increasing sense of futility, I think. Roe was here to stay.
But I was wrong. Those millions of prayers WERE heard. The Supreme Court reversed itself. It was an act of contrition and repentance for one of our most grievous national sins. I join in that contrition and repentance even as I celebrate this affirmation of life.
But now what? For those of us who live in pro-choice states, such as Washington, this decision will make little difference. Which means that the work of defending the unborn AND caring for their mothers and fathers must continue. The work of organizations like CareNet must be protected and preserved. The ministry of fostering and adoption must be championed. We must redouble our commitment to support and mentor both the parents who choose life for their unplanned babies. To that end, we will be reviewing Chapel Hill’s support for the unborn, perhaps as “beyond-these-walls” a cause as one can imagine.
And…we must become more compassionate toward those women who choose or have chosen abortion. I have always been pro-life…but I have not always been “kind pro-life.” “Empathetic pro-life.” “Gracious pro-life.” I’m not sure that the undoubted hundreds of women in our church who have had abortions have heard compassion from their pastor’s pulpit, compassion for their sense of pain or desperation or guilt or shame or whatever that led to or resulted from their decision to take this step. Pro-choice advocates might be accused rightly of not defending the rights of ALL women, especially unborn ones. But pro-life advocates might be accused rightly of turning a deaf ear to the plight of mothers and fathers who felt forced into an unthinkable choice that continues to impact them.
I am glad Roe is gone. I hope abortions will become increasingly rare. But I also hope that we will not be so triumphalist about this moment that we neglect our opportunity…and our call…to care well for all women, the born and the unborn.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we kick off our summer sermon series that we are calling One Anothers. Pastor Ellis and his family will be in England for sabbatical, so we can be as unrestrained as we’d like to in celebrating our Independence Day!
PS—If you would like to read the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade from our denomination’s National Leadership Team (which includes Chapel Hill’s own Rosemary Lukens, the newly installed Moderator of the EPC), you can read it here. The statement also includes a link to the EPC’s position paper on abortion.