GRAPEVINE—The first resolution passed by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in 1998 decried the practice of abortion that was federally legalized in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Now, almost 24 years later, the protestations and prayers of those early SBTC founders were answered in a Friday (June 24) decision by the Court to overturn Roe.
In a 5-4 opinion, the Court overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that struck down all state abortion bans and legalized the procedure nationwide. The justices also invalidated the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion that affirmed Roe.
The Court’s Friday opinion—in a Mississippi case regarding the prohibition of the abortion of preborn children whose gestational age is more than 15 weeks known legally as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—opens the door for states to once again have the authority to decide the legality of abortion rather than the federal government.
By legalizing abortion for nearly any reason and at nearly every stage of development, as it has been interpreted in the courts since 1973, Roe has given federal support for the deaths of more than an estimated 60 million unborn children.
“The SBTC is unashamedly pro-life and we see this as a major victory in the fight for the unborn,” SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick said. “I implore you to join us in praying that we continue to see progress after this monumental decision!”
Writing the court’s opinion, Associate Justice Samuel Alito called Roe “egregiously wrong from the start.” He was joined in the five-justice majority that overturned Roe by justices Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas.
Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, but not with the decision to overturn Roe. The majority decision will return abortion regulation to individual states. Texas is one of the leaders among pro-life states.
Texas passed House Bill 1280 in 2021, the “Human Life Protection Act,” which is a complete ban on abortion beginning at conception. Texas is one of 13 states that have a law which will ban most abortions. Abortionists who violate HB 1280 in Texas will face civil and criminal penalties. This ban takes effect in 30 days. Texas has also set aside $100 million to support pregnant women and mothers.
“We must continue to support women and families when they face unplanned pregnancies,” said Cindy Asmussen, who serves as advisor to the Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee. “The church and our pregnancy resource centers will no doubt continue to be faithful to the mission of offering material, financial, emotional, and spiritual support.”
Retired pastor Steve Branson—who 25 years ago as pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio helped found Life Choices, a pregnancy resource center—encouraged churches to continue their ministry to pregnant women.
“Life Choices is doing everything we’ve always done,” he said, “and I don’t see that changing at all. I think the ministry has even greater opportunity in the future. I think the church keeps doing what it’s been doing!”
Reflecting on the 20 resolutions passed by Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber, pastor or First Baptist Church of Farmersville, agreed with Branson. At the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., Barber chaired a resolutions committee which anticipated the overturn of Roe.
“As we stated just days ago in a resolution at our 2022 Annual Meeting, in a post-Roe United States, ‘We commit to stand with and pray for abortion-vulnerable women, to eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion, and to oppose Planned Parenthood and other predatory organizations or institutions who exploit vulnerable women for profit.’
“State-by-state, mother-by-mother, heart-by-heart,” he added, “we will continue our sacred work toward this goal.”
Information from Baptist Press was used in this report.