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How should a Christian view the Roe v. Wade decision?

videoRoe v. Wade
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On January 22, 1973, in a decision known as Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a woman had a constitutional right to abort her baby. The ruling effectively legalized abortion nationwide. The Court found that a right of privacy was “broad enough to encompass” a right to abortion.


The case was titled Roe v. Wade after the parties involved. Norma McCorvey had sought an abortion in Dallas County, Texas, but was denied by Henry Wade, the district attorney at the time. In the ensuing court case, which traveled all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Norma McCorvey was listed anonymously as Jane Roe; thus, the landmark battle became known as Roe v. Wade.

The Court ruled in favor of McCorvey and thus opened the door to legalized abortion nationwide. Roe v. Wade viewed pregnancy as divided into trimesters: in the first trimester, states were denied the right to ban or regulate abortion in any way. In the second trimester, states could enact some regulation, although abortions meant to protect maternal “health” had to be allowed. In the third trimester, a state could theoretically ban abortion, but laws had to allow for exceptions to preserve the life and “health” of the woman seeking the abortion. Issued on the same day, another case, Doe v. Bolton, defined health to mean “all factors” that affect the woman, including “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.” That definition effectively allowed all abortions for any reason.

The Supreme Court decision in favor of McCorvey was lauded by pro-abortion groups as a victory for women’s reproductive rights. One estimate of the number of legal abortions since the Roe v. Wade ruling is over 63 million (www.lifenews.com/2022/01/07/63459781-babies-have-been-killed-in-abortions-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973, accessed 6/27/22). Each one of those abortions was the killing of an innocent human life.

Roe v. Wade was indeed a great victory—for sexual immorality, for selfishness, and for those wishing to desensitize America to a culture of death. Most Christians viewed the Roe v. Wade decision with sadness and outrage. Christian and Catholic pro-life groups worked for years to reverse Roe v. Wade and to lessen the number of abortions—helping women in crisis pregnancies, engaging in public discourse, and supporting pro-life legislation.

The good news is that, with the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Roe v. Wade has been reversed. To be clear, the Dobbs ruling does not ban abortion but leaves the matter to individual states to deal with. In its decision on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court did two things, basically: it denied that there is a constitutional right to abortion (i.e., the Constitution does not mention abortion as a right) and handed the issue to the states to regulate. In doing so, the Court explicitly overturned Roe v. Wade and another case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).

The Bible provides a moral code upon which to build a framework of laws, jurisprudence, and executive action. That moral code is most readily found in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17). The sixth of those commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” is the one most directly related to the issue of abortion. Laws making abortion illegal conform to the moral code of the Bible in that they forbid the killing of an innocent human life. Roe v. Wade, which legalized the killing of innocent life, conflicted with the Bible’s moral code.

It is good for a country’s laws to reflect biblical morality: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it’s up to the states to pass laws protecting the pre-born and honoring biblical principles.

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This page last updated: August 17, 2022