Editor’s note: Additional information on the historic Roe v. Wade decision will be printed as it becomes available.
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Tennessee Baptist leaders have expressed their excitement over the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on June 24 to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe. v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.
By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court effectively ended recognition of a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling now gives each state the power to ban, limit or allow abortions. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the majority ruling, instead wrote a concurring opinion that he would not have overturned Wade but would have only upheld Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks.
The high court overruled the 1973 decision that struck down all state abortion bans and legalized the procedure throughout the country. The justices also invalidated the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion that affirmed Roe.
The 6-3 opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a case regarding Mississippi’s prohibition of the abortion of preborn children whose gestational age is more than 15 weeks — returns policy decisions on the issue to the states and marks a long-sought-for victory for the pro-life movement.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any” provision in the Constitution.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In a joint statement, Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, and Greg McCoy, president of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, said, “Today is an incredibly exciting day as the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade in a most historic ruling. First and foremost, glory to God. We are thankful for this legal decision. It’s been a long time coming.”
The TBC leaders also noted that for nearly 50 years, “pro-life advocates have fought and prayed for our country’s youngest citizens and their right to life, mostly because we acknowledge and affirm that they are precious gifts lovingly knitted together in their mothers’ wombs by our sovereign Creator. As the children’s song says, ‘they are precious in his sight.’ This monumental ruling also brings a measure of redemption to the loss of more than 63 million aborted babies since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973,” the two men wrote.
They stressed, however, that “the reversal of Roe v. Wade is only the starting line, not the finish. As Christians, we must recognize that pro-life is more than anti-abortion. It isn’t enough to rescue unborn life from the terminal end of an unwanted pregnancy. Our society now stares into a future of countless orphans and an increased number of unwanted children. The church must respond in a way that demonstrates we value all of life.
“For 2,000 years Christ followers and their churches have cared for widows and orphans, and we must dedicate ourselves to taking up this ministry en force. We believe Tennessee Baptists will rise to the occasion and do their part in serving the least of these. For more than 130 years Tennessee Baptists have served children through Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes. Support for TBCH must increase, but we as Tennessee Baptists must not passively stand by and see ministry to unwanted children rest solely as TBCH’s responsibility. The local church and her members must also embrace ministry to these mothers, fathers, and children,” they agreed.
Davis and McCoy added, “Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field — and it just got bigger. Let’s rally to this monumental decision in the love of Christ and with Great Commission passion. There are moments in history where Christians step into the gap and reveal the greatness and sufficiency of our God.
“This is one of those moments.”
Tennessee Baptist Convention President Clay Hallmark agreed. “I am personally overwhelmed and thankful for the stance the court took for the human rights of the unborn, as all people are made in God’s image and worthy of life. All life is valuable,” he said.
“While we rejoice with this decision, we recognize that the people local church must continue to actively involve themselves in the efforts of pregnancy centers, foster care, adoption and ministry to families and those in crisis. Our ministry must continue to be that of love for all people. We must never forget that we are all unique and more than the sum of our mistakes. Likewise, the grace of Jesus is bigger than our worst mistakes,” Hallmark said
“This is our message and our mission. Tennessee Baptists are poised to continue our efforts for life and are preparing for the next chapter of this great calling.” B&R —This article includes reporting from Baptist Press.