No Independence Day for the Unborn

This weekend I plan to attend a patriotic concert with fireworks, food and friends. It has become an annual tradition for my wife and me that we would not miss for anything. We will sing along to the national anthem and probably tear up as they honor military veterans. In fact, one of our friends who organizes a group of us to attend each year will have just returned from a war zone on a brief leave from his military duties. It should be a great evening full of emotions and patriotic pride.

Unfortunately, there is another cause for tears heading into Independence Day. These are not tears of joy, but tears of sorrow. As was the case last year, the week before Independence Day celebrations, the Supreme Court issued a decision that will alter the course of our great nation. This time the decision struck down abortion regulations in Texas and has made it almost impossible for states to enact commonsense medical regulations on the abortion industry.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court struck down two provisions of Texas’ abortion regulations that passed in 2013. The majority of justices in a 5-3 decision determined that it was an undue burden to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facility and to require that abortion centers meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

These abortion regulations were the subject of much publicity in 2013. Before the Texas law HB 2 was passed in a special legislative session, then-state senator Wendy Davis had participated in an 11-hour filibuster to prevent the bill from coming to the floor for a vote. Davis rode the attention she received from that filibuster to national prominence but ultimately lost in her bid to become the next governor of Texas.

The Whole Woman’s Health decision also threatens to overturn similar laws in at least a dozen other states. It is a huge setback for pro-life advocates and legislators around the country. In light of this decision, there are basically two ways we should respond.

First, we need not give up our quest for the protection of the unborn. Psalm 127:3 states, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” For far too long, our culture has looked at children as burdens to be avoided rather than blessings to be embraced. Since the infamous decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973, the abortion industry has flourished in the United States. Even though abortion rates have declined in recent years, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that more than 1 million abortions are performed each year in the United States.[1]

The Supreme Court has not helped pro-life advocates with the Whole Woman’s Health decision, but it is likely to galvanize supporters who want to protect the most vulnerable children among us. These children cannot speak for themselves, so we must speak for them. Already Senator Konni Burton, who won Wendy Davis’ former seat in the Texas Senate, has assured her constituents that she will continue “to promote a culture of life in our state.”[2] The quest for protecting the lives of the unborn will continue on both the political and personal levels. We must join that quest and not grow weary along the way.

Second, we need to remember that God is still on His throne. We have been bombarded with the rancorous political process of the upcoming presidential election. If we listen to the candidates, it would seem that they are the only hope for restoring peace and order in this world. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that God is still on His throne. He has not changed, and the Supreme Court can never dethrone Him.

In the context of the abortion debate, we find assurance in Psalm 139:13–16 as David writes:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

God has formed every child. He knows the extent of their days before they have ever taken their first breath. He sees each and every child in the womb in the same way He sees full-grown adults.

God is not sitting in heaven wringing His hands over what happened in the Supreme Court. We may not understand what purpose He will bring about through this tragic decision, but we can confidently say that we serve a King who reigns from heaven rather than a court that rules from the bench.

In the days ahead, we must not lose hope. Independence Day gives us a good reminder of what we should work to attain for the unborn. Let us give them an opportunity to celebrate their own independence rather than having their lives snuffed out in their mothers’ wombs.


[1] Guttmacher Institute, “Induced Abortion in the United States,” Guttmacher.org, May 2016.
[2] Konni Burton, “Supreme Court Rules on Texas’ Pro-Life HB 2,” KonniBurton.com, June 27, 2016.

Evan Lenow

Evan Lenow

Associate Professor of Ethics, Director of the Center for Biblical Stewardship, and Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Lenow is an Associate Professor of Ethics and teaches in the School of Theology. He is married to Melanie and has four children - Molly, Elizabeth, William, and Laurel.
Twitter: @evanlenow
Website: evanlenow.com
Evan Lenow

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