Christians across America ask, “What is a Christian perspective on the Roe v. Wade decision?”
Reasonable Christians appreciate the complex dynamics and unique situations surrounding every individual woman’s pregnancy. We respect that for most women, the decision to end a pregnancy is agonizing and nothing she takes lightly. At the same time, historically, Christians have believed that each life is created in the image of God and that, as followers of Jesus, we are called to speak up for and defend the most vulnerable persons in our society. Who is more vulnerable than the unborn in a culture choosing to dehumanize them or prioritize their mothers’ lives over theirs?
Christians respect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. But we believe every child deserves the right to life, even for the approximately nine months that child is dependent on the mother’s body.
God tells us He knows us before we take our first breath. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV). And the Psalm writer praises God, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)
Multiple studies of why women choose abortion both in the US and around the world report the greatest percentage of women make the choice because the pregnancy would interfere with life plans, affordability of the child, their lack of readiness for this child, or birth control failure. Reports show only a small percentage of abortions occur due to sexual assault or the mother’s health.
Poverty, cultures that emphasize personal achievement and freedom over nurturing life, and sinful choices leading to conception present many opportunities for ministry, social action, intervention, and wise counsel. They also demonstrate that there are many choices people can exercise before ending a child’s life that could either prevent conception or preserve life after birth. Men and women both experience multiple moments of decision before the decision to abort. Christians support these choices, but we do not support the choice to end a defenseless life.
Around the world, Christians are engaged in ministries and programs to alleviate poverty, educate pregnant women about the biology of their unborn child, support victims of trauma and abuse, assist women with substance abuse or mental health challenges, and promote foster care and adoption. We oppose abortion, but we respect the complex individual and societal pressures that contribute to making this choice. We seek to care for unborn men and women and to love and support men and women who have survived the womb.
While so many reproductive choices happen in private, we live in a democracy, so we have a voice in the types of laws we believe our country should have. Roe v. Wade is a pivotal constitutional law case about abortion rights in America.
What Was the Roe v. Wade Decision?
Roe v. Wade was the United States Supreme Court case decided on January 22, 1973, that ruled a woman has a constitutional right to abort her baby. Norma McCorvey of Dallas County, Texas, was at the center of the original case. She wanted an abortion but was denied access to one by the then district attorney, Henry Wade. When the case went to the Supreme Court, those in charge of the case protected her identity by referring to her as Jane Roe (hence “Roe v. Wade”). The court’s decision in favor of McCorvey was celebrated as a victory for women and reproductive rights, while letting states enforce their own laws after the first trimester.
The sad and terrifying fact of the Supreme Court decision is that it opened the floodgates for women to choose to end the lives of their unborn children. By many estimates, over 63 million abortions have occurred since this landmark case became law. That is a staggering loss of human life. That number of human lives extinguished before their first breath should make all of us pause and consider this law’s impact on our culture, global community, and souls.
Who Was Jane Roe?
Norma McCorvey’s early life was marked by trauma, abuse, illegal activity, alcohol, and substance use. She gave birth to two children, both of whom were adopted. At 21, McCorvey wanted to end her third pregnancy. The famous case took three years to decide, so McCorvey gave birth to that child, who was subsequently adopted.
McCorvey revealed she was Jane Roe and wrote two books about the topic of abortion. I Am Roe: My Life, Roe V. Wade, and Freedom of Choice, co-written with Andy Meisler, told her side of the Supreme Court battle. Won by Love, co-written with Gary Thomas, tells her story of coming to Christ and repenting her pro-choice views. McCorvey spent the later years of her life active in the pro-life movement. In 2004, she attempted to have Roe v. Wade overturned based on the harm abortion causes to women, but the case was dismissed in 2005. McCorvey died of heart failure at 69 years old in 2017.
In 2020, the FX documentary, AKA Jane Roe, portrayed McCorvey as a woman without true conviction but subject to financial incentives. The film contains a “deathbed confession” that she wasn’t really pro-life and that her activism had been an act. However, McCorvey was no longer alive to contribute to or comment on the documentary. McCorvey was a living, breathing woman whose life demonstrates the complexity of choices, personalities, pressures, and powers involved in the subject of abortion.
Our culture has been deeply impacted by Roe v. Wade and the subsequent prevalence of abortion. The killing of the unborn has contributed to cultural deterioration and devaluing of life, with far-reaching implications for our times.
How Have Christians View Abortion Throughout History?
The Bible always refers to children as a blessing (Psalm 127:3, 5). For most of Christian history, children were treasured because so many were lost in childbirth or died in childhood from diseases we now can prevent or cure. It wasn’t until the 1960s brought the sexual revolution and various modern methods of birth control that abortion became a more widespread acceptable consideration.
Pro-choice advocates argue that abortion has always been a reality but, historically, a dangerous one. Women turned to untrained abortionists or made their own attempts to end their baby’s lives, often in unsanitary conditions causing infection and death. Pro-choice advocates also argue abortion saves women’s lives and that this is an “either/or” equation, where the death of the unborn must happen to save the lives of their mothers. This argument, however, is disingenuous and misleading.
Of course, some people will always seek what they want regardless of laws or morality. No one argues that overturning Roe v. Wade will end all abortions. But unborn children have no choice about their own survival. Pregnant mothers have choices. It’s dangerous to choose “back-alley” abortions or rely on untrained abortionists, which could lead to devastating consequences, but women can make other choices. They are hard choices, and women in any circumstances deserve compassion when they face an unwanted pregnancy, but the unborn deserve compassion and the right to survive their mother’s womb.
Since Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, medical technological advances have allowed us incredible views into the development of unborn children. Photos and ultrasound images in utero have convinced many women of the humanity of their unborn children. The age viability of premature infants is getting earlier due to advances in care. Pro-life advocate (and former Planned Parenthood employee) Dr. Patti Giebink argues in her book Unexpected Choice that other medical advances mean the odds of an abortion needing to happen to save a mother’s life are negligible.
But, even scientific evidence of life in the womb and the humanity of the fetus has become evident, pro-choice advocates have promoted abortion as the single solution, a right to end those lives. This attitude is frightening in what it says about modern culture.
This is why Christians continue to advocate for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. More than that, it’s why Christians speak out on behalf of these children. Other nations and cultures have turned to forced abortions for population management or allow selective abortion to reduce congenital disabilities. There are anecdotal reports of individuals seeking gender selection through abortion. These are inevitable practices once death becomes an acceptable solution. A mother’s womb should be a child’s safest place; not a minefield of politically, culturally, or selfishly motivated choices.
What Does the Bible Say about the Sanctity of Life?
The Bible teaches that every human is designed and loved by God, who sent His only Son Jesus to die for them and redeem them from sin.
After the flood, God tells Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man (Genesis 9:5 ESV).” We are responsible for caring for others and respecting their humanity and their lives. This refers to all who are born, and Christians believe it also extends to the unborn.
Strong evidence that God believes the lives of the unborn are to be protected and ending them is murder is found in this passage: “God commanded this, ‘When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life.’” (Exodus 21:22-23 ESV)
The Bible’s teachings about the value and sanctity of human life have led Christians historically and around the globe to act and speak out against all forms of slavery, human trafficking, child labor, racism, domestic violence, oppression of the poor, and injustice in whatever form it takes, as well as abortion.
Roe v. Wade contributes to a culture that values death as a solution. Christians acknowledge the problems contributing to women’s choices to abort, but we serve a living God and believe in solutions that promote life, not death. Christian culture has a strong movement to support women after abortion to receive forgiveness in Christ and heal from the after-effects of their child’s death. The dynamics of pregnancy, societal pressures often complicated by abuse, poverty, or mental illness, and the overtly positive presentation of the abortion option in modern culture often do a disservice to these women. Those who minister to them in compassion do so without judgment, as fellow sinners, redeemed by Christ alone.
As Christians, we must advocate on behalf of laws that support life, for those who are born and for those who are unborn. However, the work is not simply a political or legal battle. We know these are external forces of change, but God desires a change of heart that can only happen through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, while we will celebrate if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we will also continue the work of spreading the truth of Jesus Christ and advocating on every societal level for a culture that rejects death as a solution and always works for life.
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Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books including Running from a Crazy Man and The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.