The Good News About Abortion

Last week, a leak from the United States Supreme Court indicated that the court may be considering reversing Roe v. Wade, which made abortion widely available.  We don’t know yet how the courts will officially rule.  And if they do overturn that case, we are not yet certain what the various state legislatures will do.

It does appear certain, unfortunately, that we are in for another long (and probably very angry) series of debates, protests, and rants. Let’s be ready to keep our cool in the midst of the stormy arguments. We need to show that we can speak with intelligence, Biblical integrity, and love.

But let’s also not lose sight of the fact that—even before the court decides—we are making progress in America.  Abortions in America are significantly down from their highs in the early 1980’s.  According to USA Today, the highest rate of abortion occurred in 1981.  (In that year, there were 29.3 abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age.  In 2019, the rate had fallen to 11.4.  The total number of abortions also dropped over 50% as well.)  Still, though, we live in a country in which about 630,000 babies are aborted. That’s a large number, even if it is less than the 1,500,000 per year in the 90’s.

What contributed to the drop in the rate and number of abortions?  Experts point to at least three factors:

  • Contraception is more widely available.
  • Insurance is more widely available. We can debate whether or not The Affordable Care Act is a good law, but in making insurance more affordable, it did enable more women to get contraception.
  • And, surprisingly, the number of teens who are sexually active dropped from 34% to 27% since the 1990’s.  People my age often (loudly) complain about teenage immorality.  The truth is that the current group of teens may have higher sexual standards than previous generations!

Still, though, we have a long way to go if we want to reduce the number of abortions in our country.  Laws and court decisions alone won’t stop abortions. They may become harder to get, less safe for the health of the mothers, require more travel, and become more expensive. These factors will reduce the total number of abortions as a result, but most experts think the total decrease will be in the 10-15% range.

I pray and work, therefore, for something more than just a law or a court decision. I pray that there will be a heart change in our nation that is so incredibly deep that we collectively decide that human life is something to be treasured, cared for, and celebrated. I want to eliminate the very desire for an abortion.

How do we help bring the nation to that point?

  • Let’s work to continue what has already worked—make contraception and healthcare widely available and affordable.  Nearly everyone agrees that preventing a pregnancy is preferable to ending a pregnancy.
  • Let’s continue to teach a healthy sexual morality that focuses on marriage.  Too often, the church has come across as “anti-sex.”  That is not the Biblical position at all!  Sexual activity is a healthy and incredibly positive experience in the context of marriage.
  • Let’s continue to show—and not just teach—that all human life is sacred. If we are truly pro-life, we need to show it feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, ministering to those with special needs, providing for the sick, overcoming racism, and showing love across borders. All human life (not just an unborn American baby) is worth protecting and loving.

Legal solutions are not enough.  Legislative solutions are not enough.  The church must teach and show by our actions and by our love that human life (from the womb to the tomb as I often say) is something incredibly special and worth caring for.