Norma McCorvey, 1947–2017
Published: 23 February 2017 (GMT+10)
The woman most famous as the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that struck down state abortion bans in the United states in 1973, died on 18 February 2017 at 69 years old.1 Though famous for her role in legalizing abortion nation-wide, she never had an abortion herself. She attempted to secure an illegal abortion while experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, but gave birth and the child was adopted. She later converted to Roman Catholicism and became an advocate for the pro-life cause, stating that her participation in Roe v. Wade was one of the worst decisions of her life.
Prior to Roe, the states decided whether abortions were legal, and under what circumstances. Along with the ‘sister case’ Doe v. Bolton, the US Supreme Court effectively made abortion legal up to birth.
The law isn’t the biggest issue!
Many people oppose Roe, and for good reason. But looking at another bad Supreme Court decision that targeted vulnerable people, we can see that the law is not the real issue.
Buck v. Bell is the infamous Supreme Court decision that legalized the involuntary sterilization of people judged to be mentally handicapped or ‘feebleminded’ on eugenic grounds. Tens of thousands of American citizens were sterilized as a result, some as late as the 1970s. It might shock people to know that this court decision remains in effect today. This law never changed! Yet we don’t see mentally handicapped people being sterilized involuntarily today—why? Because we began to see the mentally handicapped as people with value and rights, and that subjecting them to sterilization without consent violates those rights.
The biggest problem is not that the law allows unborn children to be killed for any reason up to birth—the biggest problem is that our society does not see unborn children as valuable human beings with rights, and that killing them violates these rights.
The Gospel is the answer!
The Bible teaches that all human beings are image-bearers of God. This means that from conception onward, we have value in the Creator’s eyes. Unborn children are not valuable primarily because they might become cancer researchers or violin virtuosos. The unborn future garbage man, or the unborn child with Down Syndrome, has as much value in God’s eyes as the unborn future astronaut.
Also, Scripture teaches that from conception onward, we carry the taint of sin from our forefather, Adam. David affirms that he was sinful from his mother’s womb (Psalm 51:5). While it might seem strange to cite the sinfulness of the unborn child as a pro-life argument, it shows that the child is already part of the human family, sharing both the privilege of image-bearing and the problem of sinfulness.
Since the unborn child is a human image-bearer of God, Scripture forbids killing the child as murder. In fact, harming an unborn child, even unintentionally, was judged in ancient Israel (Exodus 21:22), and sacrificing infants to Molech was one of the most abhorrent practices in God’s sight (Exodus 20:2–5; Jeremiah 32:35).
This means that when a woman has an abortion, she and the abortionist are cooperating to murder her child. To some people, this may seem unloving to say, especially because many women come to regret their abortions and suffer emotionally as a result. But only when we correctly point out that this sin has occurred can we bring the Gospel to bear to help women (and the fathers of their children) who may be hurting because of their past decisions.
Women who have had abortions, and the people around them who enabled them, can find forgiveness and peace by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. His sacrificial death paid the penalty for the sins of everyone who would come to Him, and His resurrection from the dead assures us that we too will be raised to newness of life with Him.
Defend the sanctity of life from a creation foundation!
Human beings are ultimately valuable, from conception to natural death, because we are image-bearers of a holy God, and He has assigned value to us. But we can only defend this truth from a foundation of biblical creation, because Genesis teaches that we are created in the image of God, and the other Scriptures that teach this truth assume the authority of Genesis. So as we have seen with so many other cultural issues, ultimately abortion is a symptom of a bigger problem of the rejection of biblical authority.
References and notes
- Roe v. Wade: Woman in US abortion legal test case dies, bbc.com, 18 February 2017. Return to text.