By Editorial Staff
Published March 31, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. (EP) – In a decision widely hailed as a blow to legalized abortion on demand, the Supreme Court ruled that states may sharply limit abortion practices. The 5-4 decision upholding a controversial Missouri abortion law stopped short of overturning the Court’s landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade case which legalized abortion on demand, but left the door open for further abortion restrictions.
The ruling in Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services upheld three state restrictions on abortion. The court ruled that states may forbid abortions in public hospitals or other taxpayer supported facilities, may forbid public employees to perform elective abortions, and may require viability tests for fetuses thought to be at least 20 weeks old.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist agreed with a lower court opinion which said testing for viability in second trimester abortions would place an additional financial burden on women seeking abortions.
But Rehnquist said the problem was not with the Missouri law, but with the “viability” standard set forth in Roe v. Wade. “Key elements” of the Roe decision are “not found in the text of the Constitution or in any place else one would expect to find a constitutional principle,” Rehnquist wrote in a stinging criticism of Roe. He added, “We do not see why the state’s interest in protecting potential human life should come into existence only at the point of viability.
Rehnquist suggested that the Court adopt a new standard for evaluating abortion restrictions, focusing on the government’s “interest in protecting potential human life.” Rehnquist noted that there was no need for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, but recommended, “We would modify and narrow Roe and succeeding cases” given the opportunity.
Justice Antonin Scalia filed a separated but concurring opinion, stating there were “not only valid but compelling” reasons to overturn Roe. He chastised the Court for limiting itself to the “most stingy possible holding today” and called the Court’s action an “indecisive decision.”
Scalia further lambasted his colleagues for refusing to reconsider the Roe vs. Wade decision, concluding, “It thus appears that the mansion of constitutionalized abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe vs. Wade, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb, and never entirely brought down, no matter how wrong it may be … We should decide now, and not insist that we be run into a corner before we grudgingly yield up our judgment.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s views on abortion have been perceived as ambiguous, and her opinion in the Webster case did little to dispel that ambiguity. Her writing lacked some of the sharp criticism she has previously directed at Roe, but repeated her assertion that the Court’s current “trimester framework” is “problematic.”
O’Connor said that the Court was right in not revisiting Roe and said, “When the constitutional invalidity of a state’s abortion statute actually turns on the constitutional validity of Roe vs. Wade, there will be time enough to re-examine Roe. And to do so carefully.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun, who authored the Court’s majority decision in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling, wrote, “I fear for the future. While for today, at least, the law of abortion stands undisturbed, the signs are very evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.”
Fearing that the ruling will invite the states to pass restrictive laws against abortion, Blackmun attacked the majority in Webster for cowardice, deception, disingenuousness and brute force. The ruling, he said, “is filled with winks, and nods, and knowing glances to those who would do away with Roe explicitly.”
A separate dissenting opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens concentrated on the Missouri statute’s preamble, which declared that life begins at conception. Stevens argued that the Missouri Legislature’s statement regarding the beginning of life is religious in nature, and therefore violates the First Amendment’s clause forbidding the establishment of religion.
Stevens wrote, “This conclusion does not, and could not, rest on the fact that the statement happens to coincide with the tenants of certain religions … or on the fact that the legislators who voted to enact it may have been motivated by certain religious considerations … Rather it rests on the fact that the preamble, an unequivocal endorsement of a religious tenant of some but by no means all Christian faiths, serves no identifiable secular purpose.”
The Court has three other abortion cases on its agenda for next session, two that involve parental notice when teens seek abortions, and one on a law requiring that abortion clinics be extensively equipped as medical facilities. Those cases are expected to define further the Court’s shifting attitude toward abortion.
Before it would completely overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Court would probably have to be faced with a law completely banning elective abortion – striking at the heart of Roe’s assertion that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy for any reason, at any time.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Pro-life Articles
Your comments are welcome!
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)