If the Supreme Court overturns or weakens existing federal abortion protections, the church must be ready to help.
Newell published his book, “Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-birth to Pro-Life,” in 2020, in part to urge churches to become “pro-life” in the larger sense of the word rather than just “pro-birth.”
“If Roe v. Wade is altered or overturned, churches must step up and help families,” Newell told host Greg Davis. “There will be more babies born, and greater need for adoptive and foster families.”
Newell and Davis discussed the Dobbs case, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which involves a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Justices heard oral arguments in the case Dec. 1. Newell said the atmosphere outside the court during arguments was not “prototypical.”
‘Things have changed’
“There were 900 Students for Life outside the building. I think things have changed in the last several years now that we can actually see into the womb,” he explained. “My friend, Dr. Karen Purvis, said ‘science is catching up with God.’ And Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart said we can’t go back to the idea that the fetus is just ‘a clump of tissues.’”
Newell said the three more politically liberal justices on the Supreme Court didn’t make arguments like justices did 50 years ago when “Roe” was decided.
“They didn’t support the constitutionality of the law,” he explained, “but rather they argued about precedent — not overturning current law.
“Stewart countered with the idea that the court has overturned precedent before,” Newell said.
“They did so in ‘Brown v. Education’ [in 1954] for example. Justice Kavanaugh made this point too and suggested abortion may not be constitutional but an issue for the states. He said, ‘In hard matters our democracy takes it back to the people.’
“If we can convince Kavanaugh, I think we have a chance to alter Roe,” Newell said.
Davis asked Newell for a prediction about what the court might do.
“I think they will uphold the Mississippi law, and I think Roe and Casey will be tampered with,” Newell replied.
In “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey,” the court upheld abortion rights in Pennsylvania in 1992.
Newell acknowledged that if previous national abortion rulings are changed, laws would be different in every state.
“Texas has a fairly restrictive law too,” he said. “An expectant mother has 24–72 hours to make an abortion decision there, and many are supporting [what’s been called] ‘abortion tourism’ by going to Colorado for abortions. I hope we can come to the point that abortion is unthinkable, unethical and undesirable.”
Newell added “the spirit of the age” and abortion marketers have convinced Americans abortion is actually “women’s health care.”
Davis cited a poll by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission that found 75% of mothers who chose abortion later admitted they’d have preferred to keep their babies if circumstances were different.
“Many who choose abortion live in poverty and have other trauma,” Newell said. “The clinic takes their baby, but does nothing about their poverty or trauma and gives them another problem.”
‘Dignity and worth of all’
Newell said a constant refrain in Scripture is care for the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the alien.
“We must see the dignity and worth of all,” he insisted.
In response to Davis’ question about what local churches might do, Newell noted Lifeline’s program, “Families Count.”
“There are some 450,000 kids in foster care in our country,” he lamented.
“We offer training for a six-week program helping get kids back to their birthparents. Child-care agencies like this program and refer people to it. We’ve found 80% of children are reunited with birthparents and 80% ‘stick around’ the host church as their new support group when the training is done.
“Some who’ve graduated from the program help by saying, ‘I was in your seat 12 years ago,’ and this is very encouraging.”
Lifeline Children’s Services has three hotlines: pregnancy help (800-875-5595), fostering assistance (205-967-0811) and adoption (205-967-0811). The website is lifelinechild.org.
WXJC broadcasts at 101.1 FM and 850 AM. Davis’ show airs 3–5 p.m. weekdays, and podcasts are archived on Facebook.
Read more about a recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding Texas’ abortion law here.