Over the past week, Alabama’s governor signed the strongest law in America protecting unborn babies. This law will ban abortion in all stages of pregnancy. The only exception is if the health of the mother is at risk. Doctors who break the law and kill babies could face up to 99 years or life in jail.
In response, many Christian leaders applauded Alabama for the passage of this new law. On the other hand, well-respected Christian leader Pat Robertson of thevoiced concern over whether this was a wise move by Alabama. He stated in part, “I think Alabama has gone too far.” He went on to say, “They want to challenge Roe v. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case that we want to bring to the Supreme Court, because I think this will lose.”
While Pat Robertson seems to make this comment in the context of whether this is the best strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, I think it is important that we remember one important thing. We’re talking about the life of an innocent unborn child. This isn’t a debate on how best to lower taxes or protect religious freedom. This is about life or death.
I have great respect for Mr. Robertson, but on this one, I disagree with him. I think what Alabama did in protecting human life from conception to natural death is to be lauded.
Alabama has put into law the position that virtually every Christian pro-life leader has held for decades. That position is that life begins at conception and should be protected as such. This is the type law that conservatives have called for since Roe v. Wade was ruled on.
Will this Alabama law be upheld at the Supreme Court? I’m unsure. I think it faces an uphill climb. My view is that any Supreme Court ruling that undermines Roe v. Wade is a victory. Even if it is an incremental victory as opposed to an all-out ban on abortion by SCOTUS.
One comparison I want to draw is this: Dred Scott sued his slave owners around 1850 in order to gain freedom and be classified as a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that Mr. Scott was not a U.S. citizen and that a “negro” couldn’t be a citizen. This meant that Scott had to remain in bondage. Was Scott “ill-advised” to appeal his case to the Supreme Court considering his high chance of losing?
As it turns out, Scott had a valid argument before the Supreme Court, and Congress eventually passed the 14th amendment which was aimed at granting former slaves citizenship.
The reality is that there is little chance that the pro-life movement loses ground here.
The Supreme Court in 1973 essentially ruled that women should have access to abortion. Since then, various states have regulated abortion such as how late in pregnancy it is allowed. For example, various states have laws on the books that ban the killing of an unborn child after 15 or 20 weeks.
I would argue that ANY law restricting abortion, whether it be Alabama’s law or another state law, will have a very good chance of undermining Roe v Wade. In my opinion, if the Supreme Court is to hear such a case, lawyers will bring in medical experts and evidence that will convince the court that a child’s heartbeat begins as early as 5 or 6 weeks gestation. This is before many women even know they’re pregnant. I believe that the Supreme Court could also be convinced that a child is able to live outside of the womb as early as 21 weeks.
While I highly doubt that the Supreme Court will ever outright ban abortion, I do believe that they could allow states to highly restrict it or outright ban it. After all, abortion isn’t specifically mentioned in the Constitution which leads some conservatives to argue that it should be left to the states to regulate. With the current Supreme Court makeup, it is VERY unlikely that SCOTUS will expand access to abortion any more than they already have.
It is also important to remember that if conservative legal scholars believe that another pro-life case has a better chance of winning at the Supreme Court, Alabama could drop its legal defense of this law and allow another case to go to the Supreme Court.
While Christians might disagree on strategy, it is important that we don’t publicly throw good people under the bus (like the Alabama legislature) because we disagree with their strategy.
To Alabama and every other state working to protect unborn children, keep up the good work.