Russell Moore

Dean of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

What the Supreme Court's Abortion Ruling Means

The Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Texas’ common-sense laws on abortion clinics are unconstitutional. This is a grievous affirmation of the Court’s commitment to a radical abortion ideology, one that puts unborn children, women, and families at the mercy of a ruthless industry.
The Court’s laissez-faire attitude toward the abortion industry reminds me of the tobacco lobby’s work in the legal battles around cigarettes. Nothing but a completely uncontrolled and unaccountable abortion mechanism will suffice. This isn’t “reproductive freedom”; it’s the sacrificing of life and human flourishing for the sake of profit.
The abortion industry’s resentment of controls and accountability is not just a feature of post-Roe v. Wade politics. Instead, it’s an ancient kind of self-deception. In our sin, we want to keep our illusions–whatever they are–that enable us to silence the conscience within us. We want to, in short, walk in darkness. That is why ultrasound machines, waiting periods, and crisis pregnancy counseling centers are all enemies of the abortion lobby. They each point to the self-evident truth that unborn babies are indeed persons with inalienable human rights.
Avoiding the light is how sinful human beings protect themselves from being exposed. The abortion lobby wants the “fetus” to be thought of only in clinical language, as though he or she were merely an “it,” tissue to be disposed of. This is why there are many people who will protest working conditions of factories or employee wages of superstores in the name of justice and consumer protection, but will cheer—openly—the victories of Planned Parenthood over the common good.
This kind of hypocrisy isn’t just a “liberal” issue, either. There are “pro-life” politicians who preach about human dignity in front of the abortion clinic but talk of refugees and immigrants in the most dehumanizing rhetoric possible. There are activists who work against trafficking but then consume the pornography that sustains such trafficking.
When we seek to justify ourselves, we end up becoming the very things we protest. And so, the abortion lobby, in the name of women’s “health” and “safety,” finds itself celebrating a legal victory against women’s health and safety. The protections that pro-choice advocates have said for years must be given to women who seek abortions are now obstacles in the way of “choice.”
The gospel pierces through all our efforts at self-justification. In the gospel we hear a word that both condemns our consciences and offers resurrection life. An abortion culture knows that hell exists, and they know judgment waits (Rom 2:14-16). The church must confirm this, but not stop there: We must declare that God is not simply willing to forgive, but that, in Christ, he is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).
The woman who has had the abortion needs to know that, if she is hidden in Christ, God does not see her as “that woman who had the abortion.” He hasn’t been subverted from sending her to hell because she found a gospel “loophole.” In Christ, she’s already been to hell. And, in the resurrected Christ, God has already told her what he thinks of her: “You are my beloved child and in you I am well-pleased.”
The Supreme Court today has taken a stand on the wrong side of justice, the wrong side of human dignity, and the wrong side of the gospel. The church must stand ready to receive more refugees from the Sexual Revolution’s broken promises and shattered hopes. For them, we have a better word than any court could give.
Publication date: June 28, 2016


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