Author archives: Mary Szoch

Fact Check: 5 False Claims Corrected in the Dobbs Oral Arguments

by Mary Szoch

December 14, 2021

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that poses the best chance in over a generation to overturn Roe v. Wade. Julie Rickelman, senior director of U.S. litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the Court should strike down Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act—the bipartisan legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks that was at issue in the case.

Although Rickelman’s arguments occasionally aligned with the truth, the majority of what she said does not pass a fact check. Let’s examine several of those claims.

Claim #1: Justice Roberts questioned whether a 15-week ban on abortion, as opposed to a ban at the point of viability (generally set at 22-24 weeks gestation), would have a severely negative impact on women in their place in society. Rickelman responded by stating, “People who need abortion after 15 weeks are most often in the most challenging circumstances… In fact, the data has been very clear over the last 50 years that abortion has been critical to women’s equal participation in society.”

  • The Truth: In Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, a publication of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the authors acknowledge that women seeking late-term abortions do so for the same reasons women receive earlier abortions—“stressful circumstances of unprepared pregnancy, single-motherhood, financial pressure, and relationship discord.” Killing a child is not the solution to challenging circumstances.

Claim #2: Justice Roberts mentioned that the list of countries that do not ban abortion prior to viability includes North Korea and China. Rickelman responded, “First that’s not correct about international law. In fact, the majority of countries that permit legal access to abortion allow access right up until viability… So, for example, Canada, Great Britain and most of Europe allows access to abortion right up until viability…”

  • The Truth: Across the globe, only six countries allow abortion throughout the entirety of pregnancy—North Korea, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Canada, and the United States. While Rickelman was correct that Canada and the United Kingdom offer abortion up until viability, she was wrong in characterizing that as typical for Europe. In fact, only two countries in Europe (the United Kingdom and Finland) allow abortion for “broad social reasons” or “socioeconomic reasons.” Around the world, 100 countries completely outlaw abortion or only allow abortion to protect the life of the mother or in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.

Claim #3: Justice Gorsuch asked Rickelman whether the “undue burden” standard is unworkable. Rickelman replied, “The only thing that’s at issue in this case is the viability line, and the viability line has been enduringly workable. The lower federal courts have applied it consistently and uniformly for 50 years. And the Fifth Circuit here below had no difficulty striking down this law unanimously, 3-0. So it’s been an exceedingly workable standard.”

  • The Truth: The viability line has shifted from 28 weeks when Roe was decided in 1973 to 22-24 weeks today. Multiple babies have even survived at 21 weeks. Viability is not a standard that can be uniformly applied because it varies from person to person. Characterizing viability as an “exceedingly workable standard” is either wishful thinking or willful ignorance.

Claim #4: Justice Alito questioned Rickelman about her defense of the viability line. He asked, “The fetus has an interest in having a life, and that doesn’t change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?” Rickelman ultimately responded, “It [the viability standard] is principled because, in ordering the interests at stake, the Court had to set a line between conception and birth, and it logically looked at the fetus’ ability to survive separately as a legal line because it’s objectively verifiable and doesn’t require the Court to resolve the philosophical issues at stake.”

  • The Truth: The matter of an unborn child being a human being is not a “philosophical issue”; it is a scientific fact. Furthermore, at no point in time do babies—born or unborn (or countless fully grown adults)—have the ability to “survive separately,” so if Rickelman actually believes that the Court’s line where a person has the ability to “survive separately” is the logical point before which a person can be killed—she is endorsing abortion, infanticide, and the right to kill anyone who cannot survive on their own.

Claim #5: In an exchange with Justice Alito, Rickelman claimed that access to abortion is part of the American tradition. She said, “At the founding, women were able to end their pregnancy under the common law. And, in fact, this Court… specifically called out and relied on Roe’s conclusion that at the time of the founding and well into the 1800s, women had the ability to end a pregnancy.”

  • The Truth: Multiple amicus briefs were filed proving the opposite. The Thomas More Society noted that English common law originally followed in the American colonies considered abortion after “quickening” as a serious crime, and early state laws made abortion throughout pregnancy criminal. As Josh Craddock pointed out in his seminal piece, “Protecting Prenatal Persons: Does the Fourteenth Amendment Prohibit Abortion?” published in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, “quickening” was used to protect prenatal life as soon as it could be discerned—not to exclude life prior to that moment. In other words, at the time of the American founding, once there was evidence of life in the womb, it was protected. Professors Mary Ann Glendon and O. Carter Snead echoed this argument.

    Craddock also noted that by the time of ratification of the 14th Amendment, which is used to justify the “right to privacy” under which abortion is legalized, not only did common-law and state practice protect the unborn, but dictionaries used “person” and “human being” interchangeably, and the authors of the 14th Amendment expected it to especially protect the weak and marginalized. Esteemed legal scholars John Finnis and Robert George, as well as Lee Strang, submitted amicus briefs arguing along the same line of thought.

As we pray for the outcome in Dobbs, let us also pray for Julie Rickelman—that this brilliant woman will seek the truth and one day use her God-given gifts to defend life.

10 Things You Can Do to Defend the Unborn Ahead of Dobbs

by Mary Szoch

November 22, 2021

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. This case concerns the constitutionality of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which prohibits elective abortion after 15 weeks—nine weeks before the 24-week “point of viability” (i.e., the gestational age when a baby is generally considered capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb). Because Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs case presents the greatest opportunity to overturn Roe since the decision was first handed down in 1973.

Although it will be Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, who will be presenting the arguments in defense of the unborn before the Supreme Court, everyone has a part to play in this upcoming case.

Here is a list of 10 things that you can do to build a culture of life as we await the oral arguments and eventual ruling in Dobbs:

1. Pray.

The most important thing you can do leading up to the Dobbs case is to pray. To help you get started, Family Research Council has compiled a helpful prayer guide, available here. Consider praying with a friend outside an abortion facility and joining FRC for our upcoming prayer event (details below).

On Sunday, November 28, FRC will be hosting Pray Together for Life, a national prayer gathering at New Horizon Church in Jackson, Miss. The purpose of this non-partisan event will be a unified prayer meeting of the body of Christ with the sole focus on praying for the restoration of the sanctity of life in America, beginning with the unborn. We hope you will join us, either in person or online, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. You can register here.

For additional prayer resources, visit: PrayForDobbs.com  

2. Discern whether your family is being called to adopt.

If Roe is overturned, there will likely be more babies in need of parents. As members of the pro-life community, we should all discern whether God is calling us to radically love others by opening our home to a child in need. Focus on the Family provides a number of helpful resources on this topic.

3. Support a Pregnancy Resource Center.

In 2019, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services at virtually no charge. PRCs operate largely through the generosity of volunteers and donors. Their work truly makes a difference in the lives of millions, and if Dobbs overturns Roe, there will be much more work for PRCs to do. You can locate the PRCs near you here.

4. Support single moms.

Even though being a mom is incredibly rewarding, it is also incredibly challenging. Lost fatherhood brings additional hurdles for raising a child, which is why community support for single mothers is all the more important. Support single moms you know in practical ways like making a meal for the family or offering to babysit. Being pro-life means working to create a culture of life!

5. Befriend a person with disabilities.

Invite someone in your community with disabilities to get coffee or play a sport. Babies prenatally diagnosed with genetic abnormalities are aborted at alarming rates. Combat this by creating a culture where everyone is welcome.

6. Share information about the dangers of chemical abortion and about the option of abortion pill reversal.

With known complications including severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, and even death, chemical abortion (more commonly known as “the abortion pill”) is nearly four times more dangerous than already dangerous surgical abortion procedures. In some cases, if only the first of the two pills in the abortion pill regimen has been taken, this type of abortion can be reversed. For more information, visit: AbortionPillReversal.com. Sharing this message could save a life.

7. Talk to a friend about her abortion views.

Most of us have a friend who does not share our views on the dignity of the unborn child. It can be challenging to have conversations surrounding abortion but making this effort can create a ripple effect that stretches far beyond your own influence. This FRC resource provides talking points and stories to help you get the conversation flowing.

8. Share information about Project Rachel.

For many women, the pain and guilt after an abortion are incredibly difficult to bear. Project Rachel is a nationwide ministry providing women with the assurance that there can be forgiveness, hope, and healing after abortion. It is open to all women, including women of no faith. Project Rachel’s website is HopeAfterAbortion.org or EsperanzaPosAborto.org.

9. Let your friends know you are a safe person to talk to.

Post a message on social media letting your friends know that if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, you’re a safe, supportive, and loving person to talk to. This might be all the encouragement someone needs to choose life.

10. Support pro-life state legislators and legislation.

Electing pro-life state legislators is critical to ending the scourge of abortion in America. If the Dobbs case overturns Roe, the question of abortion legality would most likely return to where it was before Roe—the individual states. It is essential that the states are equipped with pro-life legislators to pass pro-life laws. When legislators introduce pro-life legislation, pro-lifers must be supportive of the effort by calling and e-mailing their elected officials.

Poll Numbers on Roe Show That Pro-Lifers Have a Lot of Work To Do

by Mary Szoch

November 18, 2021

The results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on November 16 indicate that 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. Americans should be appalled by these results. They mean either 60 percent of Americans believe it is morally permissible for a child to be aborted right up until the moment of birth (a position that, though horrifying, is consistent with support for early abortion), or 60 percent of Americans still have no idea what Roe actually does—even though the decision was handed down nearly 50 years ago.

Given the discrepancy between the Post/ABC poll and years of Gallup polling (which, as of 2021, indicates that only 32 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances), the issue seems to be with the level of education people have on the abortion issue. The vast majority of Americans do not realize that Roe not only legalized abortion but made elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy the default law in every state, overturning nearly every state’s abortion law in the process.

Lack of information being the culprit for these abysmal poll numbers might come as a relief to some—but it shouldn’t. And if it does, the issue, once again, is with education. Modern science points to the fact that a newborn child is the same child she was moments before birth. A child moments before birth is the same child she was at 20 weeks gestation. A child at 20 weeks gestation is the same child she was at the moment of fertilization.

Advances in science show that all of a person’s hereditary attributes (including sex, hair and eye color, and even personality traits) are present in that person’s DNA from the moment of conception. This means that abortions at five weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, and 40 weeks all carry out the same gruesome task—ending the life of a unique, unrepeatable human being.

Some likely think that the Supreme Court justices should take the findings of the Post/ABC public opinion poll into consideration when deciding the upcoming case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade. This points to yet another area in which Americans’ education is lacking—the role of the Supreme Court.

While public opinion is vitally important to America’s legislative process, the executively appointed Supreme Court justices are not meant to rule based on public opinion. Instead, the members of the Court take an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. This means that in Dobbs, it is their job to determine if the framework of the Constitution includes the right to abortion. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

As the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, the court of public opinion is the state legislature. Like Americans saw in the recent Virginia election, it is state legislators who are voted in and out of office based on the preferences of the people they are elected to represent. Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, are appointed for life. This is to prevent justices from bowing to the whims of the majority. These two branches of government were intentionally formed this way as part of a delicate balancing act to both allow the changing views of the American people to impact legislation and maintain the legal precepts essential to the foundations of American society.

If the Court rules as they should in Dobbs, the justices will conclude that the right to an abortion does not exist in the Constitution. If this happens, the question of the legality of abortion will most likely return to the states. While this is the most likely outcome of a pro-life ruling in Dobbs, a person’s right to life should not be contingent upon majority vote. Sadly, the Post/ABC public opinion poll should be a sign to pro-lifers that the work to educate the public and protect the most vulnerable is far from complete.

Our first step must be recognizing that God, the author of life, must be at the center of our efforts to defend life. And so, we hope you will join us on November 28 at 7:00 CT as we join with pro-lifers around the country to pray for an end to abortion. We hope you will join us, either in person or via livestream. Please visit PrayTogetherForLife.com for more information.

Coerced Abortion in America

by Mary Szoch

October 22, 2021

This past week, two Washington, D.C. police officers—Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson and 24-year veteran Karen Arikpo—revealed that early on in their careers they had been told to have an abortion or they would lose their jobs. Fearing for their careers, both women aborted their unborn babies.

They expressed the pain caused by the police department’s past actions. Officer Arikpo lamented, “It’s so unfair…. And now I’ve never been able to have a kid. All these years, I’ve tried, and I’ve never been able to have a baby…. I did this for a job….” Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson shared, “My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum.”  Like Arikpo, Dickerson has never had other children.

This shocking news—a city-sponsored police department issuing an ultimatum to two black women—abort your unborn child or see your career come to an end—has received little to no media attention. Perhaps because coerced abortion is a far from an abnormal occurrence for women in America. 

Just weeks ago, 500 female athletes filed a brief in the much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, arguing that an unborn child’s right to life is a serious threat to the hard-fought progress made in women’s sports. They argued that female athletes could not be as successful as they are without abortion making it possible.

The writers of the amicus brief referenced Sanya Richards-Ross, an Olympic track athlete who, after revealing she’d had an abortion prior to competing, stated, “Most of the women I knew in my sport have had at least one abortion.” They forgot to mention that Richards-Ross also said, “In that moment, it seemed like I had no choice at all,” and went on to say, “I made a decision [to get an abortion] that broke me.”  

Aside from their mischaracterization of Sanya Richards-Ross as a pro-abortion advocate, the 500 women who submitted the brief fail to see that the belief that women must kill their children in order to succeed is something to fight, not something to celebrate. 

All across America, countless women fear that choosing life for their child will condemn them to a lifetime of not being able to “succeed.”

Planned Parenthood’s Dobbs brief quoted an abortionist who said, “I remember one person who came back to our health center a couple of years after her abortion to tell me how her abortion had allowed her to graduate from college and fulfill her dreams for herself.”

A female track athlete at Clemson aborted her child after a Clemson administrator told her, “Just think about your options. You know Coach isn’t going to give you back your scholarship just like that. If she finds out and if you decide to keep it [the baby], that’s gone.”

A 2016 amicus brief from 113 female attorneys in the case Whole Women’s Health v. Cole begins, “To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.” This statement is followed by a series of narratives detailing how these women credit their careers to their abortions.

These days, we see one celebrity after the next proclaiming, “My body, my choice,” while simultaneously stating—like the 113 female attorneys—that their career would have never been possible without abortion. Few, like Nicki Minaj, are honest enough to admit, “It’s haunted me all my life.”  

Certainly, the past ultimatums issued by the D.C. police department are in a league of their own, but our nation must come to terms with the reality that virtually every woman contemplating having an abortion feels as if she, too, has been given an ultimatum—one that pro-abortion messaging reinforces every single day.

It is pro-abortionists who constantly tell women, “You can’t. You can’t graduate from college and have a baby. You can’t be an athlete and have a baby. You can’t be an attorney and have a baby. You can’t be a celebrity and have a baby.”

As we approach the Supreme Court arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the pro-life movement must continue to be the movement of “Yes, you can! And we will be here to help you.” We must change our culture to one where instead of being told, “Abort your child or lose your job,” future police recruits are told, “Congratulations! Your baby is going to be so proud that her mommy is a police officer! Let’s talk about how we can work together to make that happen.”

At 18, Chloe Kondrich Is Leading the Fight for Disability Rights

by Mary Szoch

October 14, 2021

At Pray Vote Stand Summit last week, Chloe Kondrich joined me on a panel to discuss what the future of life in America could look like in a post-Dobbs world. Even though Chloe is only in high school, she has already accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. At age 3, with the help of her brother Nolan, Chloe became an avid reader. It has only gone up from there. 

At age 11, Chloe successfully lobbied for the passage of “Chloe’s law,” which requires health care providers to notify women receiving a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis of the full range of resources available for their child. At age 13, Chloe spoke at the United Nations along with her father. The two were so well received, they were brought back for an encore the following year. During the pro-life Trump administration, Chloe met both the president and Vice President Pence, and (as she told the audience at Pray Vote Stand) President Trump gave her a kiss on the head. Chloe’s picture with Vice President Pence hung in the West Wing.

Now at age 18, Chloe, who has Down syndrome, travels all over the world with her dad advocating for the right to life of all people, but specifically people with Down syndrome. She is a woman of few words—and plenty of smiles. 

Chloe brings out the best in everyone, and when you are around her, it is impossible not to wish more people were as positive, joyful, and kind as Chloe. As her dad said, “Chloe will have a mansion in heaven, and I’ll sweep the driveway.” 

Sadly, not all of Chloe’s efforts to advocate for the unborn are successful. In the United States, 67 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Across the globe, the situation is even worse. In Iceland, people with Down syndrome are extremely rare, not because the disease has been eradicated but because the people prenatally diagnosed with it are so rarely allowed to be born. In the U.K, British judges upheld a law that permits babies with Down syndrome to be aborted—and they did this in response to a lawsuit brought by a British woman with Down syndrome.

As Chloe’s dad, Kurt Kondrich (a pro-life advocate who works to pass legislation protecting those with Down syndrome in the womb) said at Pray Vote Stand, “It’s a genocide… When people identify, target, and terminate a human being because they don’t meet the cultural mandates—this culture’s mandate of perfection—it’s the ultimate extreme form of prejudice [and] bigotry. It’s hate. It’s actually capital punishment without even a jury.” 

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It is also Respect Life Month. These two things go hand-in-hand. Those of us in the pro-life movement must advocate for all unborn children in the womb—especially those who are being targeted for extinction. 

This month (and every month, for that matter), if there is someone in your community who has Down syndrome, I encourage you to get to know that person. Invite that person to go for a walk, play a sport, or just hang out. If there’s a local business that employs people with Down syndrome, make an effort to patronize that business. Coffee is always better if it comes with a smile. If the Christian school your son or daughter attends does not have any students with special needs, advocate for the school to have inclusive classrooms. Inclusive education benefits all students—not just those who have disabilities. Finally, prayerfully consider whether God might be calling your family to adopt a child with special needs. That child will quickly become the best part of your family

If everyone knew someone like Chloe, a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome would no longer be a death sentence. It would be an announcement that another person who has a unique ability to be joyful, loving, and kind—while simultaneously encouraging others to be more joyful, loving, and kind themselves—is entering the world. What a lucky world.

Messing with Texas: Biden Not the Women’s Advocate He Claims to Be

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

September 3, 2021

In a statement issued on September 2, President Biden called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing Texas’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect “an unprecedented assault on women’s constitutional rights.” Biden went on to say that during his time as president, he has prepared to react to “assaults on women’s rights.”

Unfortunately, the president’s track record makes it abundantly clear that he is not the champion of women he purports himself to be. In the early days of his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order that claimed to combat “discrimination on the basis of gender identity” but, in reality, undermined advances American women struggled for decades to obtain. This order stripped women and girls of privacy and safety in public spaces, ensuring that biological males had the right to use the same restrooms and change in the same locker rooms as little girls.

A few days later, Biden repealed the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (more commonly known as the Mexico City Policy). Through this action, he prioritized the pocketbooks of abortion providers over providing clean water, education, and real maternal healthcare for women in developing nations. 

In April, the Biden administration supported the removal of the Food and Drug Administration’s safety requirements surrounding chemical abortion, thereby casting aside the Clinton administration’s efforts to safeguard women against the known life-threatening risks of the mifepristone regimen, such as hemorrhage, infection, incomplete pregnancy, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. 

A month later, President Biden released his American Families Plan, which ignored the wants and needs of the majority of American mothers by creating a one-size-fits-all plan in which families work to support a growing economy instead of the economy working to support growing families. 

And most recently, with his decision to abruptly remove the U.S. military from Afghanistan, President Biden abandoned Afghan women to face the horrors of life under the Taliban—where, as one woman put it, everyone is afraid. While mothers in Afghanistan struggle to survive and protect their children from an oppressive terrorist regime, President Biden is more concerned with ensuring that mothers in Texas can end the lives of their own children.

President Biden’s disapproval of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the six-week abortion ban in Texas comes as no surprise. However, his threatening language in addressing the Court, stating that he will “launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision,” demonstrates a new depth of ignorance and hypocrisy.

The implicit statement made by President Biden’s actions is clear: the ability to end the lives of their children in the womb is the only right that women truly need. Forget safety in public restrooms and women’s prisons, access to real health care in developing areas of the world, precautions for the chemical abortion regimen that were in place for two decades, childcare plans that actually benefit mothers, and protection from the oppression of the Taliban—women are fine so long as they can get an abortion. President Biden’s priorities are deeply misguided and representative of a pervasive propaganda in modern culture that insists abortion access is the only way for women to live happy, meaningful lives.

Far from being a defender of women, President Biden has repeatedly made decisions and implemented policies that place women in greater harm. His response to the Supreme Court’s decision is consistent with every other action he has taken during his presidency. Time after time, Biden has disregarded the dignity of the human person. Hopefully, this time he will learn to change his ways. After all, you don’t mess with Texas.

This Independence Day, Let’s Recommit to Embracing Virtue

by Mary Szoch

July 2, 2021

As we approach Independence Day, it is worth reflecting on our Founding Fathers—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Jay, and many other fearless patriots. These brave men boldly set out to form a great nation—one committed to the truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Miraculously, these men succeeded. Though not a perfect nation by any stretch, historically, America has been a source of source of strength for nations under attack—as the troops were on the beaches of Normandy; a beacon of hope for the those who wish to be free—as President Reagan was as he demanded the dismantling of the Berlin Wall; and a land of limitless opportunity—as Clarence Thomas discovered on his journey from extreme poverty to the highest court in the land. 

Yet, today in America, the unalienable rights of life and liberty are under attack in the name of what some consider “the pursuit of happiness.”

America is led by a president who continuously attacks the unborn child’s right to life and has promised to codify Roe, which would enshrine abortion on demand through 40 weeks as the law of the land. In the name of public health, this past year, religious freedom was trampled, and churches were forced to limit attendance even at Christmas. Free speech has been limited in schools and on university campuses. Biological realities have been denied and males are playing women’s sports and using women’s bathrooms. Teachers who are morally opposed to doing so are being forced to call students by biologically incorrect pronouns. And the federal government is considering completely abandoning any regard for human life by removing the limitations on human-animal chimeras

America’s transformation into a nation our Founding Fathers would barely recognize has been accompanied by a decline in the religiosity of Americans. As the number of Americans identifying as Protestant and Catholic have sharply declined, the number identifying as religiously unaffiliated, as “nones,” has grown by about 20 percent from 1990 to 2019

Our nation, a nation for which the Founding Fathers sacrificed and died, a nation that was meant to be the land of the free and home of the brave, has become the land of the “woke” and the home of the godless.  

The resulting loss of freedom and constant attacks on the rights Americans have always held so dear would not shock John Adams, who so wisely commented, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Or Samuel Adams, who concluded, “It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.” Or George Washington, who in his farewell address warned, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

Though our Founding Fathers were not all Christians, all had a profound understanding of the essential nature of a moral code, of virtue, and of belief in a Supreme Being whose natural laws must be followed. Over the last several years, our country has lost this understanding, but if our nation truly wishes to be great—to be the land our Founding Fathers dreamed of—we as Americans must once again embrace virtue.

Sowing Pro-Life Seeds Among the States

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

June 11, 2021

On May 17, the Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and review Mississippi HB 1510, which bans abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation. HB 1510 cites modern medical findings about children in the womb during the first 15 weeks of life, including that infants develop a heartbeat between 5-6 weeks’ gestation and that by 12 weeks they have developed all “relevant aspects” of recognizable human form.

Since the bill challenges the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prohibit state restrictions on pre-viability abortion, both sides of the political aisle are holding their breath waiting to see whether the Court will finally reset its contorted history of abortion jurisprudence.

There has been a great deal of pro-life legislation that has been passed in the U.S. in recent years. In 2019, seven states (including Mississippi) rolled out laws that banned abortion past six weeks or after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. In 2020, “heartbeat bills” were also passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio. In 2021 alone, over 500 pro-life bills were introduced in state legislatures, and as a result, Arkansas and Oklahoma joined Alabama on the list of states to pass total abortion bans. Though these laws have been blocked by federal courts, they represent the gold standard of pro-life legislative advocacy, and reenforce the idea that the Supreme Court has no business declaring a supposed right to abortion under the Constitution in the first place.

Considering this national trend of legislative action against abortion, the pre-viability restrictions that Mississippi HB 1510 implements are increasingly in touch with the convictions of the nation. Though the bill does not meet the global 75 percent norm of restricting elective abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation, which highlights the disparity between the U.S. and the rest of the world, the bill does restrict abortion for 25 more weeks of pregnancy than the rest of the nation does.

Given that 90 percent of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks of gestation, the law addresses only the remaining pregnancies that survive to 15 weeks. This means that the battle to preserve life, even within Mississippi, is far from over. HB 1510 nevertheless demonstrates the earnest attempts of Mississippi legislators to reflect the views of their state, where only 36 percent of citizens believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the talents, which focuses on a man who goes on a journey and leaves varying degrees of money with each of his servants. When the master returns, he rewards the servants who earned interest on the talents that they were given; to these, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

This parable demonstrates that the Lord blesses the intentions and faith of those who seek to serve Him. The servant with two talents made the most of what he was given and pleased his master just as much as the one who doubled five talents.

For Christians across the nation evaluating their state’s abortion laws, some may feel that they have been given a harder lot to work with than other states. Not every Christian lives in Arkansas, where in March, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a total abortion ban with an exception only to save the life of the mother. For those living in Alaska, where virtually no barriers to elective abortion exist, it may seem that even a massive victory such as overturning Roe v. Wade provides no real hope for a state hostile to life.

According to the words of Christ, however, the Lord reaps even where He has not sown.

Christians living in states with radically unrestrictive abortion laws must not give up the fight for the sanctity of life. To these states that have been given less “talents” or opportunities to pass legislation defending life, the Lord will be pleased with attempts to follow His ordinances, even if legislative success is impossible. For the states that are in the position to protect life, the message is clear: utilize the momentum in the Court to take action; invest the talents that have been given to you, and your strivings will lead you into the joy of your Master.

As Mississippi fights for a 15-week ban on abortion, the Lord is able to accomplish His will through even minimal acts of progress. Through this bill, the Lord could work to reward the strivings of generations of pro-life advocates to overturn Roe v. Wade. Though the outcome of Dobbs remains to be seen, it is certain that the Lord is moving in the hearts of the nation to convict many about the brutal truths of abortion.

Advocates across the country ought to take notice of this progress and be encouraged to do what they can to advance life in their own states, knowing that the Lord will reward their work even in the absence of success.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Fidelity to the Constitution Requires Roe’s Reversal

by Mary Szoch

May 27, 2021

Before joining the policy world, I taught history in Catholic schools. One of my favorite units was on the Supreme Court. Students were required to memorize the justices’ names, review various cases, and argue how the justices should rule in each case. The biggest challenge I faced as a teacher was convincing students that their determination of how justices should rule needed to be based in the United States Constitution, not in personal opinion. Sadly, this is not a problem only middle school teachers face but one confronting all Americans who recognize the role and purpose of the highest court in the land.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to review Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—a case asking whether Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks is constitutional. The Court’s decision to review this case is terrifying pro-abortion activists across the country because not only does Dobbs have the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but if the Supreme Court justices follow their obligation to the Constitution, the Dobbs decision should overturn Roe and Casey.

In Roe, the Court argued that under the 14th Amendment, the Due Process Clause, a woman has a right to privacy, and as such, she has a constitutional right to an abortion. As part of this decision, the Court said that the states had the power to regulate abortion in the first trimester for any reason, in the second trimester in the interest of the woman’s health, and in the third trimester, the state could outlaw abortion. In the Court’s 1992 decision Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court reaffirmed Roe’s finding that a woman has the right to an abortion but changed the requirements for outlawing abortion from the trimester framework to a viability framework.

As any former student of mine should be able to attest, the words “right to privacy” that are used to justify the right to an abortion in both Roe and Casey do not appear anywhere in the Constitution—neither do the words “viability ” or “trimester.” The seven justices who ruled in favor of Roe, and the five justices who ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood fell into the same trap that plagued my 8th graders. They ruled based on their personal opinion—not on the United States Constitution.

Many have speculated that the outcome of Dobbs will be less than satisfactory to those in the pro-life movement—suggesting that the decision will likely favor a more incremental walk-back of Roe and Casey rather than a full reversal. I hope they are wrong.

If my middle school students (who were very bright, but still, middle school students) were the ones deciding Dobbs, I could understand another failure to decide an abortion case based on the Constitution. I could understand that for a third time, middle school students might substitute their own opinions and create their own framework for when and how abortion should be allowed. But the nine individuals deciding this case have been educated far beyond middle school by teachers and professors far more knowledgeable than me. In fact, these nine men and women are some of the best and the brightest this country has to offer, and more importantly, they have taken an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.

As the Dobbs case is argued and the opinion is written, the pro-life movement must pray that the nine justices are able to recognize that overturning Roe and Casey is not a form of judicial advocacy, a decision based on religious principles, or an ideological answer to the pro-life movement. Overturning Roe and Casey is what fidelity to the Constitution requires.

Spiritual Considerations During Miscarriage

by Mary Szoch

May 27, 2021

This is the final part of a three-part series on miscarriage. Read part 1 on how to support a friend who has gone through a miscarriage and part 2 on the practical considerations during miscarriage.

The information contained in this post may be difficult to read.

If you are or have gone through a miscarriage, or if you are supporting a loved one going through a miscarriage, there are several spiritual considerations that may help you to grieve the death of your child and celebrate the life of your child.

Consider bringing these thoughts to prayer, especially reflecting on how Christ unites His experience of the cross to your pain. Invite Him to be with you in the midst of suffering, in order that He may fill it with His presence and transform it. Christ is carrying His cross and suffering with you. As Pope John Paul II said, “Christ, through His own salvific suffering, is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of His spirit of truth, His consoling spirit.” 

  • God loves your child. In fact, God has had a purpose for him or her since before your child was conceived. Regardless of how many weeks old your child was when he or she died, you can rest in the knowledge that God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I sanctified you and appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Your child’s life made a difference. Acknowledge your child as a unique person. Recognize that the grief you feel is proof that your child’s life made an impact.
  • Isaiah said, “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name” (49:1). God already knows your child’s name. You and your spouse should consider spending time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you what He wants you to name your child. You can share this name with others or keep it to yourself. Naming your child acknowledges his or her existence and connects you to him/her.
  • Your unborn baby’s death is not punishment. Their death is not because of anything you or your child did (John 9:2). God loves you. Isaiah 55:8 gently reminds us that we can’t always look into God’s purposes for the pain and suffering we experience: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” You will likely not understand why your unborn baby died until you meet Christ on the last day. It is okay to wonder what God is doing. Ultimately, trust that God loves you and your baby—even when you have no idea what His plan is.
  • Though Scripture tells us, “the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31), you and your husband will experience your miscarriage differently. A woman will undergo physical and emotional pain, while a man’s experience of pain will be purely emotional. You and your husband may grieve in different ways at different times. This is ok—in fact, it’s helpful. When one of you is falling apart, the other can be a source of comfort.
  • Isaiah 64:8 teaches, “We are the clay and you are the potter. We are all the work of your hand.” God does not make mistakes. Your child was and is a beautiful gift from Him to you. Consider keeping the ultrasound of your baby, your positive pregnancy test, and any other mementos of your child’s time on earth in a special place, and yearly—perhaps on your unborn child’s due date—consider remembering your child in a special way, even if just in a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift he or she was during his or her short time on earth.
  • An unborn baby was the first person to recognize Jesus as the Son of God without anyone telling him who He was: “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (read the whole story in Luke 1:39-45). While your baby was never formally introduced to Jesus, we know from Scripture that an unborn child can recognize the presence of the Lord even in the womb. Trust in God’s mercy and love and know that you will see your child in heaven one day. (On the question of about whether unborn babies go to heaven, read this short book or this article for biblical backing.)
  • Scripture also tells us, “In your book were written the days that were formed for me, every one of them…” (Psalm 139:16). Your child is part of God’s plan. Do not be afraid to share the experience of losing your child with others—especially with your other children and family members. This is a personal decision, and your decision on this may develop and change over time. Allowing your other children to grieve the loss of their brother or sister at an appropriate age is important. Knowing there is a sibling in heaven can have a huge impact on a child’s life. Sharing about the loss of your child with others not only acknowledges your child’s existence, but it also allows your child to continue to have an impact on this world. The following books have been helpful for other parents talking to their child about the loss of a sibling through miscarriage.
  • Trusting that God is all good and all loving is especially hard when grieving the loss of a child. Ask your pastor to preside over a memorial service to remember and celebrate the life of your unborn child. If your pastor is not able or willing to do this just for you, suggest a service for all parents mourning the loss of a child through miscarriage. Running to Jesus—even if only to cry out “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24”—is the first step to healing your heart. 
  • As a gift from God, your child will always be a part of you. For moms, your child will not only always hold a place in your heart, but it has been scientifically proven that an unborn baby’s DNA stays within his or her mother, and in fact, may help the mother’s body heal from certain diseases. This connection will unite you and your baby until you meet him or her in heaven.
  • Remember that you are a mom and that your husband is a dad, and that you have a child in heaven. This is a great gift. Do not forget that your child always belonged to God, and now your child is with God for eternity. May you be able to say with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
  • If you are a Christian, take hope in the reality that you will see your child again. This is the hope of the resurrection. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul wrote, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” The hope for those in Christ is that we will see our loved ones again—born and unborn.
  • At some point, the wound of miscarriage can become a source of strength. “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17).   When you feel ready, do not be afraid to share your story. Your unborn child’s life has and will continue to change the world. This article may be helpful in discerning when, how, and if you want to share your story.
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