The overturn of Roe is a matter of great rejoicing. It is also only a little cloud, the end of the beginning, which promises rains and storms to come. America has put the question of human and legal personhood to the people and their elected representatives before, and, a house divided, it did not go happily.
We who have prayed and labored for life have had 49 years to consider what might come after Roe. But a people of little faith, too small an imagination, we still seem caught by surprise. Now is a moment when America can be a laboratory of democratic self-rule and each state an experiment, yet disappointingly Gov. Glenn Younkin in Virginia and Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida have only summoned forth the will and creativity to do the bare minimum expected by pro-life voters, a 15-week restriction, more liberal than France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Redder states, too, with courageous trigger laws in place that ban the murder of the unborn, might still have anticipated the response of the left. This was only ever to be a start; shouldn’t you have known where you were going?
Reaction, yes. Reactive, no. It is time for the champions of life to go on the offense, and there ought to have been a play. The most emotive rhetoric of the apologists for slaughter and the actions of businesses and nonprofits in the last few days have both been entirely unsurprising. This is in no way to say that anyone must concede the language and claims of abortionists, but rather that, already knowing well their words and their tactics, red states might have largely preempted them. Foster systems and adoption processes and state medical systems could have been proactively reformed. Governors could beat Congress in creative promotion of marriage and family, whether it be through housing help, child tax credits, or policies that improve employment for men without college degrees. Corporations and organizations willing to fund abortion travel should be punished for helping kill a citizen of a state that protects life. You cannot cast down the high places of Moloch without resisting Mammon, too.
All this assumes that pro-life politicians mean what they say. But we in fact know that many of them don’t, and that many are as confused about the relationship between international corporations and the businesses of their own states as they are about the imago Dei in the human creature. A telling quote appeared in a recent New Yorker feature, courtesy of Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff for former Florida Governor Bob Martinez.
There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy. They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were “movement conservatives,” they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.
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Well, we always suspected.
Stipanovich helpfully continues. “So what happened? Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out.” And so it was. We owe in large part the overturn of Roe to a president who didn’t know how things were supposed to work and didn’t care. While the Dobbs opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and the most forceful concurrence came from Bush Sr.-appointed Justice Clarence Thomas—who once again is receiving the special opprobrium of a Joe Biden-figureheaded left—it could not have been decided without Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. But as President Trump said in an interview with Fox News after the decision was announced Friday, “God made the decision.”
The hardest political battles have only just begun in what is a long spiritual war. And it is the religious right, Christians, who should now let their imaginations grow and, in faith, step forward to meet the challenge. Yes, in love, the faithful church in America has long sought to meet the needs of families, mothers, orphans, and the unborn in generosity of time and money. All this must continue. But no longer is it enough to be a third leg to an unsteady coalition, letting financial interest and national security set the governing agenda. The time has come to lead. Let us demand that the election this November reflect the dream of a better land, and hold those officials who have made vain promises to account. Yet even as we are grateful for what has been won thus far, we remember that what the Court gives, and what presidents give, can be taken away. So put not your trust in princes, but nevertheless hope.