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A Somber Anniversary

Roe v. Wade
Photo by Ian Hutchinson (via Unsplash).

January 22, 2022 marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That’s right—it’s been almost half a century. 

My hope is that we won’t mark the 50th anniversary next year, because Roe will be overturned. But there is still work to do. 

I’ve been clear on my convictions about life: I’m unapologetically committed to valuing life from the womb to the tomb. I’ve spoken at March for Life rallies, because I believe the loss of many thousands of unborn children each year is a national tragedy. 

Currently, there are a lot of moving parts in terms of legislation and judicial possibilities. But, still, this anniversary is an important reminder for us.

Justice Should Be for All.

Roe v. Wade demonstrates the sad fact that our nation sometimes says one thing but then does another. Our founders talked about the rights of all people. Yet life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, pledged to all in the Declaration of Independence, do not currently extend to the unborn. The sad reality is that those who are most defenseless often face the cruelest injustices. 

While many of us have rightly engaged in conversations about issues like race in recent days, we must not lessen our cry for the unborn as well. 

This has become a clear dividing line for many politically. In recent decades, the Democratic Party has increasingly emphasized abortion as a core issue. At the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton said, “Abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare.” But by the 2016 convention, the Democratic platform stated:

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured” (2016 Democratic Party Platform [PDF], pg. 37, Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice).

The “safe, legal, and rare” language changed to merely “safe and legal” in two decades. This strong stance for abortion in the Democratic Party explains how Joe Biden, the second Catholic president, now holds views on abortion that radically contradict the teachings of his church. 

This demonstrates why so many of us who are evangelicals could not and would not support Biden. And, to be honest, it is hard to understand how pro-life evangelicals who voted for Biden now feel betrayed by him. Joe Biden is the most pro-abortion president in history—he ran that way and has governed that way. We need to say it clearly, because it is clear. 

And, now, Republicans have a choice to make. For many, we have supported pro-life politicians when it was easy to be hypothetically pro-life. It is no longer hypothetical. When Roe is overturned, we will have work to do, and we will need to call on those who said they were pro-life to follow through. 

Now, I know that at this point, people begin to find reasons to delay this conversation. The most common criticism of us who support life is, “Well, we are just pro-life when the baby is in the womb.” This argument is simply not true. Our Catholic friends have shown this for decades—Catholic Charities provides the largest non-governmental support for the poor in our country. Furthermore, evangelicals are involved in poverty work, adoption, and more. 

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and he has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves at his local church, Highpoint Church, as a teaching pastor. Dr. Stetzer is currently living in England and teaching at Oxford University.