Ever since Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973 the pro-life movement has never ceased in its efforts to end abortion in this country. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016 did much to further that fight when he appointed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Since those appointments, the pro-life movement has been watching and waiting (while the pro-abortion front has been watching and dreading) for a case dealing with abortion “rights” to come along. A case which, if brought before the Supreme Court, would force the opening of the proverbial can of worms on the constitutionality of Roe vs. Wade and all other abortion laws in the country.
On Wednesday December 1st such a case arrived, as that Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Julie Rikelman, the senior director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, and U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar were arguing that the state of Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion was unconstitutional, while Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart argued in favor of the law. While both sides of the debate have now dug themselves in and fortified their ideological positions, based on the quality of the oral arguments presented on Wednesday, there is a serious concern among pro-abortion proponents. The concern is that this time, all of their reliance on stare decisis legal precedents and their stand-by arguments were overall, as CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin asserted, a “wall-to-wall disaster” when presented before the court.
The deliberations will take some time and the court’s decision are not due to come out until June. Nevertheless, despite the successful pro-life oral arguments given on Wednesday, caution is still warranted over the outcome of this case. For given the record of the Supreme Court’s rulings over the last generation, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is far from a foregone conclusion.
The Power of Our Modern Peculiar Institution
The problem for the pro-life movement, from a legal perspective, is that it is not just Roe vs. Wade that needs to be struck down. There are a whole host of legal and philosophical justifications (or lack thereof) and court cases, from the Fourteenth Amendment, to Griswold vs. Connecticut, and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, that have been used to build an almost insurmountable foundation to keep abortion legal in all 50 states throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
What’s more, the reality is that for its supporters, abortion is accepted as an objective moral fact of life that is socially, culturally, and ideologically entrenched in modern America. And with each successive generation since Roe, the belief has been further ingrained into the minds of its supporters. Hence, phrases such as “my body, my choice” or “it’s my constitutional right” or “Roe vs Wade is the law of the land” are all meant to be accepted and asserted without question or rational inquiry. As Catholic commentator Michael Voris has stated, “Abortion has been, and remains, the single issue the entire society revolves around: judicial picks, elections, budgets, policy, social wars --you name it.” It is also, as Dinesh D’Souza noted, the only constitutional “right” that “is subsidized when none of our other fundamental rights are?”
In short, just like slavery was in our past, abortion has become our nation’s modern peculiar institution that is defended or fought against at all costs; with room for reasonable disagreements becoming less tenable. And please, spare me the ideological indignation about appropriating the issue of slavery for the purposes of defending the unborn, because the reference fits. For in both cases, the power of the state is used to deny the humanity of a certain group of people in a way that is in outright defiance of our nation’s founding principles, Natural Law, the traditional tenets of Christianity, and just plain common sense. All four of which have, since Roe vs. Wade, been corrupted or distorted in order to accommodate abortion.
This is why the issue has been and remains so contentious, because it’s not just some abstract intellectual or philosophical point that is being debated over, but a distinct viewpoint about how we treat one another based on the acceptance or rejection of our human nature. Ultimately it’s a choice between life and death and the acceptance or rejection of God’s sovereignty, either from a religious perspective or from our nation’s acknowledgement of the “laws of nature and of nature's God"
America’s Passing Through the Fire
In the ancient world human (and in particular child) sacrifice was common, either as a means of propitiating the gods or hedging one’s bets for a better future. In sacred scripture (Ezk 16:21, Ps 106:35-38) this was referred to as “passing through the fire” as children were immolated to pagan gods. Jeremiah wrote “They built the high places of Ba′al in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination.” (32:35)
The valley of Hinnon was located just outside of Jerusalem and because child sacrifices took place there in the past, by the time of our Lord it was consider an evil and accursed place fit only for a garbage dump that was kept lit on fire all the time. Christ referred to the valley by its Aramaic name “Gehinnom” or “Gehenna” and used its foul stench of burning refuse as a metaphor for the fires of Hell and God’s judgement on the wicked. For the Israelites of the time would have recognized the allusion to the child sacrifices which occurred there as one of the reasons why the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, “and they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings, and used divination and sorcery, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight.” (2 Kgs 17: 17-18).
The question now, as we await the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs vs. Jackson, is whether or not this case will be a turning point in our nation’s history, let alone provoking divine judgement upon its people. For whether you are religiously inclined or not, there is no denying that the majority of abortions procured in this country are done for the same reasons the ancients sacrificed children- because they believed it would be provide them with a better future. And while there are no “fires” to pass through, at the abortion facilities, the aborted remains that are nor sold off for medical experimentation are generally ground up and flushed into the sewers, buried in landfills, or incinerated.
Furthermore, it is hard to see how all of the blood and viscera that's been spilled since Roe vs. Wade, has made our country a freer and more prosperous place to live. For one thing, there's the issue of how the missing tens of millions of Americans and a declining birth rate will affect our nation’s future with our enormous national debt and trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities looming ahead of us. To say nothing of the macabre mood legalized abortion has brought us, as in my lifetime we have gone from abortion being “safe, legal, and rare” to “shout your abortion” to some unfunny twat comedian saying “God bless abortions” on the Fourth of July. Or more disturbingly, how a recent op-ed at the New York Times has embraced death and outright rejected life by saying that “adoption is often just as traumatic as the right thinks abortion is, if not more so.”
Again, tell me how any of this has made us a better nation or a better people?
The Quenching of the Gehenna’s Fires
It took a bloody civil war to bring an end to our nation's last peculiar institution with the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment. Even then it took another 100 years before the amendment was fortified with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ratify once and for all, America’s original promise that “all men were created equal” and “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.”
Of important note is that it was about 60 years between the ratifying of the U.S. Constitution and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave a renewed lease on the institution of slavery and was one of the sparks that lit the fuse to the Civil War which began a decade later. It has been almost 50 years since Roe was passed, which begs the question, is the upcoming ruling on Dobbs vs, Jackson going to be one of those sparks for some future conflict?
We should all pray and hope that a conflict like the Civil War does not come, but rest assured no matter how the Dobbs vs. Jackson is decided, civil strife is bound to happen. Especially if the decision is made in June, which is the right season for protesting and rioting. For if Roe is overturned, the pro-abortion crowd will strike back with the same kind of bedlam we have grown accustomed to seeing in our major cities. If stare decisis prevails, and Roe remains in place, the pro-life movement will not cease its efforts to ban abortion at the state level. This will also cause no small amount of protest that could turn violent. How bad the conflict will be? At this point it is anyone’s guess.
In the end, whatever strife may or may not come of the Supreme Court’s decision, it seems clear that at the very least it is the beginning of the end of this peculiar institution and the quenching of Gehenna’s fires. A new generation of young people, on both sides of the issue, can see what is at stake here and what is being decided. It is a conflict between those who want to safeguard the right to life for all people, and those who are willing to snuff out human lives to get what they want. You can try and phrase it any other way you want, but that is what is behind all of the rhetoric and reasoning in this conflict. Believe me I hope I am wrong about any upcoming trouble, but God alone knows what comes next. So let us patiently wait and pray for God’s will to be done.
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