abortion

3 Broader Ethical Implications for the ‘Dobbs v. Jackson’ Supreme Court Ruling

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The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case has rightly received national attention. Many people on both sides of the abortion debate will hold their breath as they await the Supreme Court’s decision. Some are hoping that the “right” to an abortion is upheld while others are anticipating that the decision will begin to overturn the current U.S. legislation on abortion—that a woman can terminate her pregnancy around 21 weeks.

Many evangelicals are praying that the Supreme Court will rule in favor, and in doing so, challenge Roe v. Wade. Countless articles and organizations have indicated the magnitude of the pending decision by the highest court in the United States of America. Nevertheless, I want to show you that this decision has broader implications than just the protection of the unborn.  Some Christians do not recognize all that is at stake in this decision. Therefore, I would like to offer three broader ethical implications if the Supreme Court declares abortion to be unconstitutional in Dobbs v. Jackson.

The Supreme Court’s decision could have positive outcomes for not only those babies in the womb, but also all people in all of society who are made in God’s image.

3 Ethical Implications

1. People will be better protected at the end of life.

Did you know that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were instrumental cases for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in some U.S. States? When judges and legislators reviewed the Supreme Court’s decision on the right to abortion, it set a precedent for how we care for people at the end-of-life. The argument logically reasons that if a woman has the “right” to use medical personnel to kill the baby in her womb, another person has the same “right” to use medical personnel to kill themselves under certain circumstances.

Logically—not morally—this makes sense. However, if the Supreme Court reasons that abortion exists as an unconstitutional practice, society must resolve that the “right” to euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is also unconstitutional. Christians need to recognize that when babies in the womb are better protected so are those who are nearing the end of life.

2. People with disabilities will be better protected.

The right to an abortion created an issue that many bioethicists have been trying to resolve—defining who has a right to life. Abortion law in America implies that the baby in the womb is not a person worthy of human rights like the mother or a newborn. This led many to embrace the secular notion of “personhood theory.” This idea wrongly divides humanity into two groups: persons and human beings. Persons are protected, but humans are not.

If Dobbs v. Jackson upholds Mississippi’s new abortion law by the U.S. Supreme Court, babies in the womb will have more protections. As Christians, we believe that all life is valuable simply because all human beings are made in God’s image. Personhood theory has been used by some bioethicists to argue that the same person/human division could be utilized to terminate some people with disabilities—it creates a class of people that are “sub-human” like the baby in the womb. Abortion law had to determine why babies were less than human, which means that this same set of criteria could apply to those with severe disabilities. Christians should recognize that more protection for babies in the womb will increase the protection for those with disabilities.

3. Medical institutions will be more likely to operate from the sanctity of life ethic.

This last implication will take some time to come to fruition if the Supreme Court’s verdict on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization challenges the Roe v. Wade position. I believe that greater protections for the unborn will lead more medical institutions to embrace the sanctity of life ethic. Perhaps this decision will place a greater emphasis on people who experience extremely complex moral dilemmas in medical care—i.e., babies born with anencephaly or people in comas to name a few. Paul Ramsey’s The Patient as Person discussed the value of the patient as a person in medical ethics, and the Supreme Court’s decision might help us to think about caring well for people who are dealing with physical ailments.

Christians are called to make society better, and the sanctity of life ethic has the potential to benefit society at large. Medical institutions could be directed to value every human life in all of life’s stages. The Supreme Court’s decision could have positive outcomes for not only those babies in the womb, but also all people in all of society who, we believe, are made in God’s image.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could not only protect the life of unborn children but might also grant more protections for all people in America. While this ruling is important for abortion law, believers need to see the broader ethical implications so that we will pray and encourage the Supreme Court to make a sound decision that honors all people as God’s image-bearers. This could be a seismic shift in recovering the sanctity of life ethic for those who are dying, with disabilities, or seeking medical attention.

We need to understand that an amendment or abolition to the abortion law does not have the power to bring salvation to society. Human laws can deter people from committing sin or restrict society from the killing of babies in the womb, but only the gospel of Jesus Christ can truly save and change people. Therefore, believers should fight to end abortion law and all the unethical implications that came out of Roe v. Wade, but we must continue to point people to Jesus Christ so that hearts will change and champion a sanctity of life ethic out of faith rather than human law.

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  • abortion
  • pro-life
  • public square
Jeremy Bell

Jeremy Bell serves as the Director of Certificate Services at Southeastern. He is a graduate of SEBTS (Th.M. and M.Div) and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Christian Ethics. Jeremy is married to Katie, and father of Avery, Landon, Addilyn, Lincoln, and Levi. You can find more of Jeremy's thoughts over at beimitators.com.

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