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.