Rashional Thoughts: How should people of faith describe the ‘pro-life’ stance?

When Norma McCorvey’s attorneys filed a lawsuit on her behalf (as Jane Roe) against Texas district attorney Henry Wade in late 1971, I was six months old.

And when the final decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 1973, I was 18 months old.

So the 7–2 Roe v. Wade ruling in favor of McCorvey — which says the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides a right to privacy allowing a pregnant woman to choose abortion — has been the only law I’ve ever known.

At the same time, I’ve watched large numbers of people of faith remain devoted to praying, petitioning and advocating for five decades not only against abortion but also for a way to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The recent Dobbs v. Jackson case, heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in December, has the best potential to achieve overturning the federal law.

As we wait on the ruling, I’ve been encouraged by the significant number of people of faith who are spending the interim period educating and advocating for the next level of adhering to a pro-life stance.

Herbie Newell of Lifeline Children’s Services, which operates out of the national Woman’s Missionary Union building  in Birmingham, is one of those voices.

In an interview on a recent Priority Talk radio show on WXJC, Newell shared how some people are actually “pro-birth” rather than “pro-life” (see story here).

‘Womb to the tomb’

As I read Newell’s suggestions for broadening the net related to caring for all levels of life “from the womb to the tomb” — as several authors, pastors and advocates have described it — countless ministry opportunities came to mind.

Along with opportunities available through the services offered at Lifeline, the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries also provides ways to help at-risk children (read more here).

It is actually quite exciting to think about the difference our churches could make in their communities if they truly focused on caring for all of “the least of these” as Matthew 25:40 states.

James 1:27 admonishes us to look after orphans and widows. Jeremiah 22:3 and Zechariah 7:10 share some “do not’s” such as “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.”

But how does caring for others in vulnerable situations mesh with being pro-life in our advocacy stance?

I’m not sure how the labels all came to be, but in some cases those who are advocating against abortion and laws like Roe v. Wade are referred to as “anti-abortion” and that’s technically accurate.

Those who lobby for the option of choosing abortion are typically called “pro-choice.”

Somewhere along the way, we adopted “pro-life” as the label of choice for the fight against abortion — after all we are fighting for the unborn to continue living in the womb and when it’s time to be born, live outside the womb.

But how much energy are we truly putting toward each of those little lives once they are born?

How are we helping those born into extreme poverty, drug addiction or unstable situations succeed and feel as safe as Baby Dean does in his daddy’s arms (see photo)?

How are we providing for those at various seasons of life who need someone to offer a little guidance and maybe simply believe in them?

How would you describe the concept of pro-life?


Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

On Jan. 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Jan. 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. (In 1973, Jan. 22 was the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in all 50 states.)

Churches continue to recognize the third Sunday in January as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. In 2022, that date falls on Jan. 16, although some will mark it on the 23rd because it’s closer to the anniversary. Either day is fine.

On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, churches throughout the United States celebrate God’s gift of life, commemorate lives lost to abortion, and commit to protecting human life at every stage. Here are some resources you might find helpful in marking the day.

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday bulletin insert from the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Resources from Life Matters Worldwide

Resources for Jan. 23 observance

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