Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. In Roe, the Court created a right to abortion-on-demand that has claimed the lives of 40 million unborn children. Ordinarily, a ruling that has been in place for thirty years and explicitly reaffirmed by the Court would be considered secure. For instance, thirty years after the Brown decision outlawed public school segregation, no one dreamed of reversing Brown. But unlike Brown, Roe and the right it has created has never been fully accepted by the American people. After three decades, Roe is vulnerable. Pro-abortion advocates know this, and it's evident in their writings. A New York Times editorial warned readers about what it called the Bush administration's "war against women's rights." It called the possibility of ROE being overturned by Bush appointees to the Supreme Court "a steady march into the past . . . when abortion was illegal and pregnancy was more a matter of fate than choice." What's that? Pregnancy "more a matter of fate than choice"? As David Mills of Touchstone magazine puts it, the Times apparently thinks that "a woman is minding her own business, and suddenly she finds herself pregnant." This kind of hysterical, tortured reasoning not only shows how nervous pro-abortion forces are about Roe's standing, it also shows how weak the case for Roe really is. That's why it's important for Christians to learn how to make a case that exploits the other side's weakness. We must point out that arguments against giving birth to an unborn child because he or she is going to be born into poverty -- how often I've heard that said -- can be applied to those who are already born. Do we really mean selecting who lives or not on the basis of finances? Similarly, we must show how empty the idea of "choice" really is. A recent pro-abortion ad reduces the notion of not having access to abortion to being deprived of cold water from your faucet. But it's not a choice of convenience for one person, but rather of life for another. We must focus people's attention on what is being chosen instead of the abstract notion of "choice." The best way to pursue our case is not just being anti-abortion. We must be truly pro-life. The compassion and generosity displayed by pro-life people demonstrates both the superiority of the pro-life worldview and the impoverishment of "choice." We see this in crisis pregnancy centers that are on the front lines of the pro-life cause. All an abortion clinic has to offer a woman in trouble is a surgical procedure. In contrast, volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers suffer alongside women -- which is the literal meaning of the word compassion. And crisis pregnancy centers are winning women over. In the one I know best, Collier's pregnancy center in Naples, Florida, 95 percent of the women who see their babies on the ultrasound choose not to have an abortion. Guess why Planned Parenthood won't let expectant mothers see their ultrasound. Helping our neighbors to understand the issues by our words and demonstrating our love by compassionate care is the way we will build a public consensus that will reject the culture of death. It's the way, with God's help, Roe will go from being vulnerable to extinct. For further reading and information: David Mills, "Choosing Love & Making Life," Touchstone, January/February 2003. "The War against Women," New York Times editorial, 12 January 2003 (free registration required). Kate Zernike, "30 Years after Roe v. Wade, New Trends but the Old Debate," New York Times, 20 January 2003 (free registration required). Michael Betsch, "Pro-Abortion Group Repackages Its Name, Agenda," CNS News, 8 January 2003. Mother Teresa, "Whatsoever You Do . . .," speech delivered February 3, 1994, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Gina Dalfonzo, "No Choice: Abortion and Our Priorities," BreakPoint Online, 25 July 2002. Care Net is a non-profit organization that supports a network of more than six hundred pregnancy centers across the United States and Canada. These centers offer free pregnancy tests, peer-counseling, post-abortion support and other practical help to women and men facing pregnancy-related concerns. (To support Care Net, you can donate online or call 1-703-478-5661.) Operation Outcry seeks to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade by mobilizing those who have been silent about the harmful effects of abortion. Hadley Arkes, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Peter Kreeft, Three Approaches to Abortion (Ignatius Press, 2002). Learn how you can make a difference in the culture with the "BreakPoint Culture of Life Packet." It includes the booklet "Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life" and a "BreakPoint This Week" special broadcast CD that includes an interview with Wilberforce Forum Fellow William Saunders, Human Rights Counsel and Senior Fellow in Human Life Studies for Family Research Council, along with a speech, "Bioethics and the Clash of Orthodoxies," by Dr. Robert George.


Chuck Colson


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