The Supreme Court strikes down Roe and Casey
A decision that defends life, a day that defines our hope, the day the Lord has made
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” You know the words from Psalm 118:24, and those words are true every day. But doxology is surely right on this day, June 24, 2022, when the Supreme Court of the United States struck down 50 years of the judicially sanctioned killing of unborn human beings in this nation. Thanks be to God.
We did see it coming. We had the leaked draft majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, and we had the strong arguments evident in the oral arguments before the court. We knew that the court now has a strong conservative majority, with a core of deep and principled constitutionalism found in Justices Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and, on most issues, Neil Gorsuch. There was good reason to think that Chief Justice John Roberts would uphold the Mississippi law restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But pro-life Americans have learned not to assume anything and to wait to see any decision in the black and white of plain text.
Well, we have the plain text. It is explosive. It is earthshaking. It reverses both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It completely removes the fiction of a woman’s “right” to abortion from U.S. constitutional law. It puts a stop to the stain of legally sanctioned abortion by federal mandate. It returns the question of abortion to the people and their elected representatives.
It is an answer to prayer.
I cannot help but think of my mother, who did not live to see this day. I came home from school one day in 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, to find horrifying images on the kitchen table. My mom had just returned home from a meeting of pro-life Christians. Like so many others, she had no idea that the U.S. Supreme Court would dare to hand down a national decree inventing a right to abortion, but it had. Evangelical Christians were sent scrambling to build a movement from scratch. The Roman Catholic Church was armed with a refutation of abortion and with legions of Catholics who could be sent into the streets. Evangelical Christians quickly followed.
But this was a battle that would have to be won in the courts, and in the court—the same Supreme Court that had given the nation the atrocity of Roe. Furthermore, victory was not inevitable. The invented jurisprudence of “substantive due process” had produced an empire of linked decisions on issues ranging from contraception to same-sex marriage. Thus, if victory and sanity were to come, an army of true constitutionalists and legal scholars would have to join the army of activists. And they did.
That is why it has taken a half-century. Like my mother, there are millions who worked for this day but did not live to see it. In this list must be counted jurists like Justice Antonin Scalia, Christian prophets like Francis Schaeffer, preachers like D. James Kennedy, and unnamed brave activists by the thousands who stood in lines holding signs, loving pregnant women and their babies, laughed at and derided by the world.
The argument against Roe and Casey had to be built point by point, the evidence assembled piece by piece, hearts and minds reached one at a time. In the courts, and in the court of public opinion, the entire process came with fits and starts, but the movement for life pressed on. Legislators in the states pressed the case, defying the abortion industry. Governors signed bills. Courts had great moments and missed opportunities. But the urgency of defying death and defending life went on.
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court comes down to this one line: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
There is much more to the majority opinion, and the concurring and dissenting opinions are filled with additional issues that demand our attention. But the most important truth to recognize is that the dissenting justices, who would defend Roe and Casey and abortion, have no real constitutional argument at all. They never did. The emperor has no clothes.
Today’s decision does indeed return the issue to the states, and even bigger battles now face us. The day of battle is not over, and the cause of life is not finally won. We will have to redouble our efforts, refine our arguments, stand alongside women in crisis, honor the family, and contend for life for the rest of our lives.
But this day is now a milestone in history. I rejoice in this day, fighting tears as I think of my mother and so many others who knew the simple truth that God’s gift of life is breathtakingly precious and must be defended. The battle before us is even bigger than the battle now behind us. So here we go.
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These daily articles have become part of my steady diet. —BarbaraSign up to receive the WORLD Opinions email newsletter each weekday for sound commentary from trusted voices.