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What We Discover About Ourselves in a Post-Roe World

March 5, 2024

We are living in a post-Roe world. Does it feel like you thought it would? Me neither.

Some context: In 1973, the Supreme Court ruling called Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion throughout the U.S., appealing to women’s constitutional right to privacy. States were prohibited from restricting abortion in the first trimester, while the rule relaxed in later trimesters.

Amid the volatility of a leaked opinion draft and vandalized crisis pregnancy centers, Roe was overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the summer of 2022. Dobbs returned the question of abortion regulation to the states.

Cue pro-life triumphal celebration? Strangely, I don’t recall much of that.

What I do recall is a mood of anxiety among political conservatives, warning that fighting abortion might not be the winning rallying cry it once was. I recall “protecting women’s rights” (i.e., protecting abortion) uniting and energizing liberals going into 2022 mid-terms and now the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

A 2024 Alabama Supreme Court defined embryos as children in the context of in vitro fertilization, a ruling which further dialed up conservative anxiety. What politician wants to be seen casting doubt on the ethics of fertility treatments? Cue further social distancing from pro-life logic, according to which life begins at conception (thus, IVF actively freezes children in storage, often indefinitely).


“Cue pro-life triumphal celebration? Strangely, I don’t recall much of that.”


Then, just yesterday, to insure itself against a Roe-like overturning, France enshrined abortion as a constitutional right. The vote was 780-72. Talking about a post-Roe “world” isn’t hyperbole.

Let’s say my senses aren’t deceiving me and that we who believe in unborn babies’ right to life are receiving increasing hostility from one side and shrinking political patronage from the other. What do you get when you add more anger to less support?

You get the opportunity to revisit your convictions.

It’s time to dust off the word “metaphysics.” It’s a philosophy word that means “after the physical,” and it refers to what exists “out there.” The more secular a society, the less it believes that anything exists “metaphysically.” A secular society believes what it sees (microscopes and telescopes are allowed). What it can’t see gets consigned to the department of pseudoscience and the genre of fairy tale.

Metaphysics is either valid or invalid based on whether there’s a God. For those of us who believe in God, metaphysics is a rich area of study, for it includes real but nonphysical realities such as the soul, free will, numbers, angels and demons, true statements, and ethical values. If God doesn’t exist, it’s hard to explain how these other nonphysical realities could exist.


“If God doesn’t exist, it’s hard to explain how these other nonphysical realities could exist.”


But God does exist. And since he exists, it’s not weird to believe in the existence and importance of other things we can’t see. Like tiny human persons.

Which brings us back to the topic of abortion.

With shrinking support and increasing hostility, we face a Job-like test. Job lost wealth, health, and beloved children. His conviction that God was there and would vindicate him faced increasing hostility from his friends and shrinking support from his wife. Would he continue believing in what was unseen and increasingly unhelpful?

You can make an airtight scientific case that a preborn baby is a human life (what gets added after conception are things like food and water, not chromosomes). You can make a strong cultural-ethical argument that a culture which cares about people living at the intersections of oppression ought to have preborn babies at the top of their list of oppressed peoples to rescue.

But to move the needle takes more than strong arguments. The opposition needs to be in a mood to reason (which doesn’t seem to be happening). And it helps to be able to count on support from strategic allies (which is increasingly unpromising).

James 2:5 says, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith?” (NIV). What do you get when you add more anger to less support? You get a people “poor in the eyes of the world.” Poor in clout. Poor in power.


“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith?”


So, what do we discover about ourselves in a post-Roe world? We discover whether we see societal poverty as too degrading for us or whether we see ourselves as rich—in faith.

We’re rich in what matters if we want it. For it takes faith to see the unseen, from the power of God to the personhood of the tiniest human.

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