Roe v. Wade (1973) will surely go down in history as one of the most infamous decisions ever made by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was marked by a strained, if not to say tortured exegesis of the Constitution, and led to a morally outrageous conclusion.
In Roe the court took up the question of the constitutionality of state anti-abortion laws. The case basically involved two separate questions: 1) Is the life of an unborn child protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, and 2) Does the Constitution grant a woman the right of privacy which includes the right to have an abortion? On the surface one might have thought that the case would have been an easy one to decide. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments explicitly forbid the taking of anyone's "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." On the other hand there is no mention of abortion anywhere in the Constitution at all. If it can be demonstrated that an unborn child is a living human being, then surely its life must be protected by the law.
Surprisingly, the court arrived at the exact opposite conclusion. What made the decision so bizarre is that the court took two completely different approaches to answer the two questions. On the first question they took a very narrow, legalistic approach: an unborn child is not a legal "person," and therefore is not included in the Fourteenth Amendment protections. On the second question they took the exact opposite approach, interpreting the Constitution in a very broad, expansive manner: the right of privacy, which is not spelled out anywhere in the Constitution, supposedly includes the right to have an abortion. Mr. Justice Blackmun, writing for the majority, admitted that a generalized right of privacy was not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the document, but he thought it might be implied in any one of a number of different provisions. But whatever it was and wherever it was, he was sure that it included the right to have an abortion. One cannot help but wonder if the outcome was dogmatically contrived: the justices found in the Constitution what they wanted to find.
In a sense we do hope that the Constitution does at least imply a right to privacy, but the right to privacy does not include the right to commit a crime. You do not have the right to kill your mother-in-law, even if it is done in the privacy of your own home. The right of privacy merely protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of Roe v. Wade is the tacit implication that there is no longer any sanctity to human life. Mr. Justice Blackmun asserted that "we need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins," and then went on to argue that the State of Texas may not, "by adopting one theory of life," override the rights of a pregnant woman. Thus he tacitly admitted the possibility that life might begin at conception, but argued that it does not matter if it does. The unborn child still does not have a right to life. The sanctity of human life perished on that cold, wintery day in January, 1973.
Each year almost a million legal abortions are performed in the U.S.*
What does God think about all of this? One clue is what He thought of the ancient Canaanites. One of the reasons He condemned them was because of a practice connected with the worship of a deity named Molech. The worship of Molech involved human sacrifice, specifically by making children pass through a fire. What God told Israel about this practice was instructive.
First of all, the practice had the effect of polluting or defiling the land. When Cain slew Abel God said to him: "The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand" (Gen. 4:10,11; NKJV). And so it was with regard to the Canaanites. "For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants" (Lev. 18:25).
Secondly, this and other like practices are called "abominations" (vv. 26,27,29,30). An "abomination" is something that God considers loathsome or detestable. Nowadays we might say that it is something that "grosses you out." It is an offense that is particularly flagrant and serious.
Child sacrifice was a barbaric and inhumane practice, something that runs counter to the natural sympathy that should exist between parent and child. God made it clear that Israel was to live by a different standard. Leviticus 19, which falls right in the middle of God's indictment of the Canaanites, contains exhortations to regard the poor, the deaf, the blind, the elderly and the foreigner. In a word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (v. 18).
The fate of the Canaanites raises some disturbing questions about the possible fate of America. If God regards abortion as a moral outrage, and if our destiny is ultimately in His hands, it bodes ill for the future. All around are signs of impending doom: mired in foreign wars, sinking beneath a mountain of debt, a crumbling family structure, even erratic weather patterns and appearance of invasive species, we show every sign of a civilization in decline. Could it be that God is telling us something?
*estimated annual average for years 2001-2006=985,685