As of this writing, it looks very likely that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned. This was the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized the scourge of abortion in all 50 states. The decision declared that a woman’s right to privacy superseded the state’s interest in life. For that reason, a woman had the right to abort her unborn child and any law that restricted this was declared unconstitutional.
Since that decision, the pro-life movement has been working tirelessly to have this ruling overturned. We have be voting for pro-life candidates that would eventually nominate and confirm pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. By God’s grace, it looks as though that after almost half a century, all of this hard work will pay off in the courts.
To be clear, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion does not become illegal in the US. Instead, abortion laws will default back to each individual state. There are some states like California and New York that will have very permissive abortion laws. And there are other states like South Dakota and Texas that may have very restricted abortion laws.
This is why the pro-life movement does not end with the overturning of Roe.
It is only getting started.
One of the reasons that this Roe was so controversial is that it took the question of abortion out of the hands of the electorate. Now “we the people” will get the chance to make the arguments for and against in the arena of ideas.
But the end goal of the the pro-life movement has never been purely legislative. Even if we win every single argument in every state, making abortion illegal everywhere in this country, we would still not have achieved the goal, nor would it end abortions. A country like Brazil has very severe anti-abortion laws. But according to The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, one in five Brazilian women have had abortions.
Does this mean winning a victory of Roe is pointless.
Of course not. The legal victory would be an important step on the journey.
But the real victory is not in changing the law.
It is in changing hearts.
We are called to help create a Culture of Life as described by Pope St. John Paul II. Pro-life legislation should not simply be the end in itself. Instead, it should be the natural outgrowth of a culture that values each human life.
In order to achieve this, we must win the hearts of the people of our culture.
So how do we do this?
I do not think that I have the magic bullet that will fix everything. But in the next few weeks and months, here are some important reminders.
We can do nothing without God. If Roe is overturned, it must be acknowledged that it is by God’s grace alone that He has allowed this victory. Going forward, we have to remember that the power to change hearts is in His hands, not ours. We must continue to turn to Him in prayer, fasting, and adoration, begging for His grace in the fight to save the unborn.
2. Humility in Victory
A very good friend of mine (who is wiser than I am) wrote to me about the possible overturning of Roe and he wrote: “Besides gratitude, magnanimity in victory may be the most important response to this unexpected act of Divine Mercy. It took time and effort to dissuade some people that treating another human being as property was wrong. Getting some to think of the unborn as human beings will also be a challenge.”
Tensions and emotions are already running very hot. When Roe is overturned, there may be a desire on the part of some to take a victory lap. To be sure, it will be a fantastic cause of celebration. But it is important to do so in a way that does not seek to denigrate and humiliate those on the other side of this issue.
We believe with all our hearts that they are in the wrong. But we are all made in God’s image. Our goal is not simply to defeat them in the courts. We want to convert them to the Gospel of Life. As my friend pointed out. This will take time and patience.