abortion

Now That Roe Is Behind Us: Five Things I’d Like My Kids to Know

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When I learned that Roe v. Wade had been overturned, I was juggling my two toddlers and taking in the relentless rhythm and elaborate details of a model “chuggy-choo-choo” display. In a previous season of life I would have been compulsively scrolling Twitter and refreshing supremecourt.gov so I could initiate a press release sequence as soon as the court’s decision dropped. But my little people and I spent Friday morning charmed by a coffee shop breakfast and learning to pick out and pay for strawberries at the farmer’s market. While we did, history happened. It all went over my children’s heads, but they’ve inherited a different legal and cultural chapter of American life than their mother.

As they grow to understand more about the world, here are five things I’d like them to know about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health court decision and this new season in our nation’s history.

Like most bad ideas, Roe has had tragic consequences.

1. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is profoundly consequential.

The court overruled what Justice Thomas called two of the “most notoriously incorrect” decisions that had ever been made (more details in a piece I wrote in January). Like most bad ideas, Roe has had tragic consequences. Since the court’s 1973 decision to find a “right” to abortion in the Constitution, our country has lost 63 million tiny, innocent lives to surgical or chemical abortions. Millions of birthdays were never celebrated, stories never written, cures never developed, buildings never built. But we haven’t simply lost productive citizens; we’ve chosen to lose people, image-bearers of the living God.

In many of these million instances, moms have been left reeling with emotional and physical scars that they had never anticipated. Because even if the pregnancy itself had left them terrified, inconvenienced, or desperate, the abortion hadn’t simply been a medical procedure. It had gutted them and taken a most precious gift that their body was created to nourish and protect.

For nearly 50 years, the United States led the way with the most permissive abortion laws. Under the Roe regime our country’s federal abortion policy placed it among only six nations that allow elective abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy—a list that includes human rights abusers like China and North Korea.

But the Dobbs decision interrupts that sad and ugly story. It does a thorough and well researched job of explaining why our country‘s founding documents don’t actually guarantee the “right” to end an unborn baby’s life. Dobbs doesn’t ban abortions (like many Americans seem to think). But it does make it resoundingly clear that this contentious public policy decision does not belong in the hands of unelected judges.

Dobbs has interrupted a profound injustice. This is a cause for celebration.

2. God used many people, in positions of both influence and obscurity, to make this monumental event happen.

It’s normal for people to celebrate (or blame) the “important” people for history-making moments. Justice Samuel Alito has his name on the majority opinion. Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart did the important and nerve-wracking work of arguing the case in front of the justices. And President Donald J. Trump appointed three of the individuals who were integral to the court’s decision. But hundreds of other people played their roles. Teachers and professors taught the justices to interpret the Constitution and encouraged them to understand the limits of bad precedent. Thousands of attorneys, activists, legislators, and private citizens invested their wisdom, arguments, time, money, and prayers to reverse our country’s federal endorsement of abortion.

As a mom, I have little idea or control over what kind of role my toddlers will play in this big world. But–with God’s help–I’ll continue to educate, encourage, and empower them to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God— whether they one day argue cases before the Supreme Court or serve in relative obscurity.

Consider becoming more vocal, honest, and eloquent about the value God places on every human life.

3. The American people have their job back.

In a very significant sense, Friday’s decision is the end of the first chapter. It’s not common for powerful people to relinquish influence or concede that their institution should play a smaller role in deciding what’s best for the country. But on this deeply contentious topic, the court brought the country closer to the genius and intention of its founding–rule by the people, through their elected representatives.

This self-government is a messy and difficult job. There’s no question that state-by-state advocacy and abortion legality is a moving target and authentically pro-life advocates already disagree over the best methods for protecting the vulnerable. It’s understandable, and often even admirable, to show impatience with evil. But pro-life advocates have the opportunity and obligation to win support from neighbors who aren’t currently aware or convinced by our point of view. As I’ve shared elsewhere, organizations offer a summary of current state laws and offer guidelines for effective advocacy.

Anyone who’s new to the pro-life fight will probably bring fresh energy and courage. But newcomers may also benefit from listening to the advocates who have spent years investing in humble, more incremental approaches to protecting the unborn and supporting abortion-minded women. The movement requires both prudence and courage, and pro-life advocates may disagree over how to apply those virtues. Meanwhile, it’s helpful to remember that some of our fellow citizens actually believe and behave as if abortion is a moral good.

4. The Court’s Dobbs ruling reminded us why people think they need abortion and illustrated just how angry, malicious, and fearful some of our neighbors can be.

We’ve known for a while that Americans are profoundly divided on the question of abortion. But in recent days, a vocal and violent minority have made it very clear that they wish to celebrate the death of inconvenient preborn children. Elected members of Congress stoked crowds to go “into the streets” and participated in protests where crowds chanted for “free abortions” and speakers claimed that “all abortions are valid” and “most abortions are an act of love.” Members of the “pro-choice” community firebombed and vandalized the very organizations that exist to empower women to choose life.

Compassion toward women who find abortion tempting is often appropriate, but the rage and violence we see in our city streets requires a kind, sober, and Spirit-saturated resistance of its own. The screams about “my body, my choice” blindly rage against science (there’s a new, separate human, my friends) and the beauty and the logic of God’s created designs for sex, marriage, and parenthood.

It’s not new that deeply private reproductive decisions have had profound public consequences. But even as we celebrate Dobbs as a monumental step towards justice, we also grieve to see how justice infuriates some of our friends and neighbors. It’s clearer than ever that our work isn’t simply one of political and policy advocacy. It’s personal and spiritual and difficult.

5. Dobbs invites Christians to put in the hard work of building a culture of life.

Parents, pastors, youth group leaders, and anyone in a mentoring role should consider becoming more vocal, honest, and eloquent about the value God places on every human life. (I serve on the board of an organization, Reason for Life, that offers ideas and resources.)

We also have the opportunity to put the “abortion question” within its broader context and the obligation to explain and model God’s good design for sex and parenthood—within the boundaries of marriage, or where a secular setting demands, explain how the “success sequence”—graduating high school, then marriage, then babies—generally protects children and their parents from poverty.

And—in families, churches, workplaces, one-on-one relationships, and a million other ways, we can and we must let women know that they are not alone. We can laugh and cry and carry the anxieties of the pregnant mom–even when her pregnancy is planned and “perfect.”

In anticipation of Friday’s decision, several leading corporations created policies to pay for female employees to travel to receive an abortion. In response, one “disaffected liberal” tweeted, “Companies paying for abortions in order to save money on maternity leave is not brave it’s dystopian corporate psychopathy.” He’s right. It’s a demeaning and cruel view of women that pays her to abort her children and presumes that denying her fertility is a precondition for success.

Christians can and should be prepared to interrupt that dystopia in as many creative ways as possible. There’s some room for debate over the merits of an increased social safety net or mandated maternity leave policies; let’s have those conversations. But while the state can redistribute resources, it can’t offer compassion, empathy, or support in the most vital ways needed. Even the most efficient and agile government programs are no match for the deliberate and personal decisions to help women embrace their full potential–mind, body, and soul. Churches, pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and a wide range of other civil society organizations can–and must–continue to offer support.

I hope my kids always know they’re worth the effort. 

I never quite understood women who “enjoy” being pregnant. I won’t bore or discomfort you (or embarrass my kids who may someday actually read this) with the details of my own pregnancies. Despite enjoying the support of a loving husband and excellent medical care, I persistently wanted the horribly inconvenient project of pregnancy behind me. And let me tell you, raising toddlers is hardly a cakewalk. Parenting is hard and women carry uniquely heavy parts of the project.

But with great responsibility comes great reward. And as I held my toddlers that fateful Friday morning and in the moments since, I thanked God for the heavy honor of being their mother. Thank God, Roe is behind us. But, wow, we have work to do. Now I work–with many others–to make motherhood and fatherhood a slightly less burdensome, slightly more joyful endeavor. And I hope my kids always know they’re worth the effort.

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Jessica Prol Smith

Jessica Prol Smith is a writer with 15 years of Washington, DC experience in public policy and on Capitol Hill (including advocacy for the unborn). Her work has been published in USA Today, The Christian Post, The Washington Times, The Daily Wire, and others. She lives in Cumberland, MD with her family.

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