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.