A New Human Right?

The Supreme Court heard a case this week that may finally overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to decide their own abortion laws. If the Court indeed decides to overturn Roe, abortion won’t be banned in the United States, but it will be rarer. We should celebrate abortion being less prevalent. We should likewise celebrate our nation no longer acknowledging the termination of life in the womb as universal human right.

Predictably, everyone is writing about abortion right now. For the first time in almost forty years, there is real potential for movement on this life-or-death issue. Pro-life advocates are hopeful. Abortion supporters are concerned. Opinions are flooding the media.  

As I read through some of the outrage, I picked up on a recurring theme among abortion-rights advocates that I’ve somehow never noticed before. The language over “rights” has shifted. We used to hear about a woman’s “rights” over her own body, but that argument sounds hollow in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that the fetus is a unique organism. The “right” now being protected is the right for a woman to never have to experience any degree of inconvenience or discomfort.

Elizabeth Spiers was outraged by Justice Amy Coney Barrett—herself an adoptive parent—who advocated adoption as an alternative to abortion. To Spiers, adoption isn’t a valid option because it “is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous and potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages.” Setting aside her irresponsible use of “infinitely” as well as the utter disregard of the trauma that millions of women have experienced after abortions, Spiers clearly doesn’t think women should ever have to do anything that is difficult.

Amazingly, Spiers herself is an adopted child. Her birth mother chose adoption instead of abortion, and, by her own admission, her adoptive parents were loving. Her birth mother doesn’t even regret her decision, but Spiers regrets it for her. She regrets it because her birth mother had to experience trauma, and no one should ever have to experience trauma. Every person has a right to choose a trauma-free life. Spiers seemingly realizes that her birth mother’s trauma is her reason for existence, yet she doesn’t want that same opportunity granted to the unborn. That’s easy for her to say.

Or consider the New York Times dialogue (can we call it that?) between four of their own opinion columnists. Predictably, only Ross Douthat opposes abortion, and the other three had no trouble disregarding his alien views. Lulu Garcia-Navarro reminisced about her own abortion in her early 20s. She wanted readers to know that if she had not had her abortion, she would certainly not be arguing this issue in the New York Times. Can you imagine a world where a woman doesn’t get to achieve her highest dreams because of a child? Can you imagine a world where we let human life and parenting get in the way of what we most want to do? Who would want to live in such a world?

A group of over 500 female athletes have signed on to an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold Roe. What is their reasoning? “Athletic prowess depends on bodily integrity. This reality is magnified for women athletes for whom childbearing age coincides with their competitive peak in athletics. If the State compelled women athletes to carry pregnancies to term and give birth, it could derail women’s athletic careers, academic futures, and economic livelihoods at a large scale.”

Apparently, the expectation that a woman give birth to her own child equates to State compulsion. These women athletes believe they have a right to a life of no interruptions. The new universal right is a life that never presents an obstacle to one’s own desires. The new right is the right to be a god or goddess, free from limitation of any sort.

I’ve debated how best to end this essay. The ridiculousness of this claim seems self-apparent to me. Real life in this fallen world will always get in the way of our utopian dreams. If it’s not an unwanted pregnancy, it will be something else: failing health, aging, betrayal, one’s own character, take your pick. The right to a trouble-free life was forfeited a long time ago. We gave that up the first time we tried to be gods instead of serving God. Roe v. Wade isn’t bringing that back.

But for the church, I think it’s important to realize the extent to which this view of humanity is diametrically opposed to our faith. The value of human life is not measured by the number of times we get to do what we want, unhindered. Quality of life doesn’t decrease proportionally to pain, suffering, and unwanted interruptions. We live by a different rule—the rule of love. We have a Savior who gave up his rights in order to die to save us and asks us to consider a question, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” Getting everything you want will not free your soul. Giving all that you have by God’s grace—that’s liberation.

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