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!
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)