By Personhood Alliance leadership — With President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the jury is still out on whether she would help overturn Roe v. Wade. But we believe the bigger questions are: What would happen next, and why are we still waiting?
The courts, and particularly the Supreme Court, are supposed to be the least-politicized, least-partisan branch of our civil government. Yet that is no longer the case. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and President Trump’s duty to appoint a replacement, at the end of his term in the midst of a deeply divided culture, is demonstrating just how politicized and partisan the Supreme Court and the nominating process have become. Our vacant Supreme Court seat has become the issue. All because of abortion.
With President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, battle lines are being drawn. But the jury is still out on whether Amy Coney Barrett would vote to overturn the unjust decision of Roe v. Wade. Former Personhood Alliance president, Gualberto Garcia Jones, explains:
“As a self-described originalist and a student of the late Antonin Scalia, it remains to be seen whether Amy Coney Barret will follow Scalia’s legal positivism or Justice Thomas’ fundamental understanding of the law as inclusive and governed by higher principles, such as our inalienable rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. While legal positivists would look no further than the written man-made law in considering a challenge to Roe, an originalist with an understanding of inalienable rights would subject man-made law to a higher fundamental standard—our paramount right to life.”
In her now famous Notre Dame law review article, Amy Coney Barrett made clear that Roe v. Wade, unlike Brown v. Board of Education, is not a super precedent and therefore, could be overturned. Beyond her writings and her judicial record, Amy Coney Barret is clearly an example of how a woman in America can be open to life and motherhood while achieving the highest levels of professional success. This infuriates the radical feminist Left.
The battle has begun
Pro-abortion politicians and organizations are gearing up for the fight of their lives in the Senate, through the media and in the political arena. They’re busy firing up their base, and some are even threatening violence; all to protect what they believe is a fundamental right to kill children.
Their pro-life counterparts are responding with equal and opposite zeal, without the calls for violence. The fundraising letters on both sides of this contentious issue are being blasted to inboxes all across America.
The Personhood Alliance, which is made up of principled, grassroots local, state, and national activist groups, has a different perspective.
A time for caution
Personhood Alliance leadership is cautiously optimistic that the new court would overturn the travesty of Roe, and we call for the Senate to approve President Trump’s nominee. But that won’t end legal abortion.
If Roe is overturned, the right to abortion would fall to the states; a possibility for which many states have already been preparing. Governors have signed trigger laws on both sides that would either immediately protect the so-called “right” to abortion or deny that claim in the state. Twenty-one states already have laws that prohibit or restrict abortion, while thirteen states have laws that explicitly protect abortion—some through all nine months of pregnancy. The remaining states would need to determine how to proceed.
This is hardly the victory many pro-lifers assume it would be, as almost all state laws set in place to limit or restrict abortion would actually protect it to varying degrees if Roe fell. We would need to overturn bad state court decisions and repeal decades of laws that have entrenched and regulated abortion. We would also need to pass laws that recognize the personhood of pre-born children, giving them equal protection under the law from their biological beginning.
Anticipating the demise of Roe and the pro-life response that would be needed in the aftermath, pro-abortion organizations have been working diligently for several years to find alternative ways for abortion “access.” Through webcam abortions and mail-order abortion pills, they are advocating self-managed abortions that circumvent the FDA and state laws and put women and girls at risk.
Meanwhile, the pro-life movement is offering very little in terms of coherent strategy for ending abortion in a post-Roe world, especially given that 88% of abortions occur in the first trimester and almost half of those are done via the abortion pill. We’ve been so focused on compromised incrementalism—pain-capable laws, bans on certain procedures, and regulatory rules—that we have failed to see the forest for the trees.
Overturning Roe has been the pipe dream of the pro-life movement for almost 50 years, but the movement is decades behind abortion advocates’ work to secure it at the state level.
Not to mention we’ve been at this precipice many times before.
Fool me once
While Amy Coney Barrett is highly qualified and the Senate should take up her confirmation quickly, we must consider history when it comes to the Supreme Court and Roe.
For decades, the pro-life movement, conservative movement, and many Christians have made their primary focus electing Republican presidents and senators, hoping to get pro-life, or at least originalist, justices on the Supreme Court. Over the past 47 years, national pro-life/conservative organizations have raised millions of dollars, while at the same time, sought to simply regulate the killing of pre-born children. Too often, they’ve used the language of personhood—declaring life at conception and equal protection—but in practice, carried out Bill Clinton’s goals of making abortion “safe, legal, and rare.”
So how has this strategy of working and waiting for the Supreme Court played out for us?
We must remember that the original court that decided Roe in 1973—that overstepped its authority and turned the rule of law on its head—consisted of a majority of Republican-appointed justices. This included Harry Blackmun, who specifically stated he was ignoring the question of the personhood of the pre-born in writing the majority decision.
After abandoning several attempts at a Human Life Amendment in the 1980s, as well as principled legislative efforts, pro-lifers worked for the election of Ronald Reagan, and in the 90s, George HW Bush. The reward was an 8 to 1 Republican-appointed majority on the court. In the early 90s, the opportunity to overturn Roe came in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The result? The Court upheld and even strengthened Roe. In every precedent that has followed, up to present time, the court has denied the personhood of the pre-born and further embedded abortion as “a women’s right.”
Yet, here we are again; scrambling to put another justice on the court who could, maybe, possibly, overturn the unjust decision of Roe v. Wade.
What if Roe isn’t ever overturned?
The work to end abortion and protect all God’s image bearers from the moment of conception in love and in law has already begun.
We do not need to wait for bad court decisions at the state, federal, and Supreme Court level to be overturned.
We cannot wait.
Personhood Alliance president Les Riley notes:
“We cannot go along with the lie that court decisions are ‘the law of the land’ and be guilty of perpetuating injustice. We must reclaim the authority of state and local governments from the overreach of the federal courts. We can start now to work in our states to see laws passed that recognize personhood and give pre-born children equal protection under the law.
The time is now for Christians to step up in our local communities to reclaim charity from the civil government. To continue and expand the care that churches, families, pregnancy centers, homes for unwed mothers, adoption ministries, and countless others are doing to protect children and aid mothers. And regardless of when or if Roe is ever overturned, we must share the Gospel and teach a Biblical worldview in a post-postmodern culture set adrift by utilitarianism, eugenics, the sexual revolution, and family breakdown.”
It’s time for a new approach
The fact is, the courts have let us down again and again. Most national pro-life organizations have told us that if we just send them money to lobby states to regulate abortion and help elect Republicans, one day—someday—the Supreme Court will end abortion.
Pro-life Christians have placed far too much emphasis on national elections and too much hope in future Court decisions. The oft-mentioned definition of insanity might be considered here: “Repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results.”
Personhood offers a new approach, different in both principle and strategy. Grounded in the biblical concept of the Imago Dei—that all human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)—the personhood movement boldly proclaims that our inalienable rights are universal, inherent, and essential to our humanity.
The Personhood Alliance advocates for the recognition and protection of the God-given, inalienable right to life of all human beings as legal persons, at every stage of their biological development and in every circumstance. We believe the pro-life movement has done great harm to its own ability to succeed by promoting legislation that abandons children conceived in rape, children with disabilities, and other politically unfashionable human beings. We reject this line of thinking and declare that exceptions must not be made when defending human life.
Beyond state-level legislative efforts, we believe the answer lies at the local level.
A local strategy to end legalized abortion
The Personhood Alliance’s Safe City initiative is a principled strategy that God is using to impact local cities and counties all across America to bring abortion to an end, regardless of what happens in Washington, DC. The duty to end abortion, to see unjust courts reigned in, and to restore equal protection in love and in law lies with us as individuals and with the Church as a whole—with the assurance of the blessing of God when we place our hope in Him.
Personhood upholds God’s standard for defending all human life equally and for the dignity of all human beings as His image bearers. We invite you to join us—and end all legalized abortion, without exception and without compromise—for good.
To learn more about what the Personhood Alliance is doing to end abortion and other direct assaults on human life, subscribe our email list.
Les Riley, Gualberto Garcia Jones, Sarah Quale, and Deborah Stilt contributed to this article. Banner photo: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP