Abortion supporters across the country have been in full panic mode since Politico published a story claiming the Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. The purported leaked draft majority opinion being written by Justice Samuel Alito in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests there are already enough votes to send the issue of abortion back to the states, where some have instituted bans after six weeks (e.g. Texas) and others have made it legal up until birth (e.g. New York).
If this leaked document is a true reflection of the court’s coming decision, Americans should expect the most intense political battle in a generation. The reason is quite simple: Abortion is as important to Democrats in blue states today as slavery was to Democrats in Southern states prior to the Civil War.
What conservatives have been fighting for since Roe and the subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992 is a second abolitionist movement. It is just as much a fight between good and evil as the fight against chattel slavery that shaped our nation’s history, law, and culture.
Both chattel slavery and abortion deny the inherent dignity and worth of humans who are made in the image of God. Both view human beings as valuable only to the extent that they enrich the lives of their “owners,” who argue that they alone have the right to choose the fate of their property. Both rely heavily on euphemism to hide the barbarity of each practice – “peculiar institution” in the case of slavery and the “right to choose” and “reproductive justice” in the case of abortion. Both have abolitionists on one side facing off against absolutists who defend each institution with maximum ferocity as well as accommodationists who would rather not disturb the status quo.
Frederick Douglass, one of this nation’s most vocal critics of slavery, understood the role public opinion played in the justification of human rights violations. He stated, “Like all other great transgressions of the law of eternal rectitude, slavery thus produces an element in the popular and depraved moral sentiment favorable to its own existence.”
Douglass’ description of the depraved thinking required to justify chattel slavery is no different than what is needed to defend intentionally killing the unborn. Abortion abolitionists should expect absolutists to play every card in the deck, from accusations that Republicans want to turn women into breeders with no constitutional rights to claims that back-alley abortions will become the norm in post-Roe America.
Another predictable line of attack will be Democrats framing abortion restrictions as an attack on black women. Liberal politicians, journalists, entertainers, pundits, and even “pro-life pastors” typically seek to tear down any institution founded by a person with a documented history of racism, oppose disparities in social outcomes driven by public policy, and protest the destruction of black bodies.
Abortion is one of their few exceptions.
They would rather not discuss Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and known eugenicist, or the fact that black women account for close to 40% of all abortions in this country. The people who take to the streets to chant “black lives matter” are the same ones who think fewer black children being killed in the womb is upholding “white supremacy.”
In 1862, one year before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Douglass asked the question, “What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated?”
Abortion abolitionists today should ask a similar question: “What shall be done with the babies if every one of them is given a chance to live?
The answer should be simple: Love and protect them. We should value children the same way their Creator does.
Our moral compass has been broken for so long that we forget the womb is where God’s creative powers are expressed most vividly. One Bible passage puts it this way: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
The complexity and intricacy of human life should inspire awe and reverence. Instead, it causes weeping and gnashing of teeth for members of an entire political movement that is terrified it might lose an invented right to kill innocent human beings based on their stage of development.
One thing that needs to accompany this abolitionist movement is a greater understanding of the importance marriage plays in the proper ordering of family formation and child-rearing. In a perfect world, America’s abortion rate would be among the lowest in the world because its marriage rate would be among the highest. Decades of social science demonstrate that children have the best outcomes when they are raised by their married biological parents in low-conflict homes.
Decades of feminist-inspired public policy and cultural norms have taught generations of Americans that marriage and children oppress women and keep them from their highest calling: participation in the workforce. Both men and women have accepted the idea that anything a woman does to make money – even selling her body to strangers – is more empowering than raising her own children and managing her own home.
That worldview is why over 60 million babies have been aborted since Roe.
Abortion abolitionists must move forward with moral clarity and realize there is no group more marginalized than the preborn. The people who want to maintain the “right” to literally tear babies limb from limb in the womb should never be allowed to claim the moral high ground. Democrats went from “safe, legal, and rare” to “shout your abortion!” in the span of a few election cycles. But this fight says more about our nation’s spiritual health than our political climate.
Abortion abolitionists believe children are a blessing from God whose lives deserve protection. Abortion absolutists see the children as burdens and opportunity costs based on whether they are wanted by their mothers. Those two beliefs cannot peacefully coexist in a nation that claims to trust God and fight for the vulnerable.