Will Roe Go? The Leak at the Edge of History

Last night, an unprecedented leak of the first draft of a Supreme Court decision was leaked to Politico, signaling that the Supreme Court, 49 years later, is poised to repeal Roe v. Wade. If this draft, and the at least five votes voting to allow the states to regulate and ban abortion holds, then we are witnessing history on two levels.

First, the leak of a draft decision by the Court is an unprecedented assault on this sacred institution of American life. According to Politico, “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.” We can’t be sure, but it seems this document was leaked to put maximum pressure on the justices set to strike down Roe. This leak will create enormous pressure on the justices. They will be harassed from every side: in their social circles, by some in the media, who will likely look for incriminating details in their personal lives by which to blackmail them to change their votes, and by desperate liberals, for whom abortion rights are sacrosanct. We should earnestly pray that the justices have the courage to not yield to the inevitable mobs, but hold their votes to strike down one of the most egregious Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history.

If this leaked draft is reflective of the final decision, Justice Alito makes a compelling case that abortion is not a right intended by the framers of the constitution and not a liberty embedded in our national tradition.

Christians approach this from a standpoint of human dignity, that the baby in the womb is not an inconvenience, but a human being at the moment of conception, worthy of the life. King David so eloquently declared that in his mother’s womb, he was knit with care by the Creator (Psalm 139). But even those who don’t share our faith are having a hard time looking away, as science continues to reveal to us what we already instinctively know: the most defenseless people in our society are not clumps of cells or mere tissue, but people.

If Roe is indeed finally struck down, Christians should have three responses.

First, we should rejoice at the justice handed down by the highest court in the land. This comes as the fruit of a relentless pro-life movement that has often been maligned, misunderstood, and mocked and yet refused to go away. Patient pro-life activists, often led by women, have marched in rain, snow and sleet year after year, demanding justice for the unborn. Pro-lifers have used their voices and their votes. They’ve established clinics in communities across the country, coming alongside young girls in crisis, offering compassion and care and a community to help support them in their moment of crisis.

Second, we should lament the millions of babies whose lives were snuffed out in the name of convenience, each an image-bearer of the almighty. Each soul, not unknown to the Creator, who hears the shedding of every drop of innocent blood (Genesis 4:10).  Yet in our lament, we can offer gospel hope for the unwed mother who faces a difficult decision and for the post-abortive women weighed down by guilt. There is forgiveness and redemption, mercy and grace at the foot of the cross.

Third, the pro-life movement should be prepared for the days ahead. The end of Roe is only the beginning of saving unborn lives. The fight for their dignity goes from state to state and likely, into the halls of Congress. And the same invisible armies of compassion that have ministered to mothers and babies in crisis must continue the work, in cities and communities around the country. After fifty years, we cannot grow weary in well doing until the law everywhere recognizes what Scripture has already declared: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).