Each week AFL posts an Anglicans in Action video, which gives practical suggestions, resources, and ideas for life-ministry. This week’s focus is on millennials and abortion. You can see all the Anglicans in Action videos on our YouTube Channel.
If you don’t know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Sammie Franks, and I’m the Coordinator of Ministry Outreach at Anglicans for Life. I am so excited to be a part of the youth initiative that Anglicans for Life is launching, including the ySummit event in January in conjunction with the March for Life (if you want to learn more, visit ysummit.org) and the youth curriculum that is being written to equip and engage youth groups to have conversations about sex education and healthy relationships, which we’ve named “Abundant Life: You Were Made for More.”
Something that has come to my attention throughout my research is that most millennials have no idea what the history of abortion in the United States actually is. A PEW Research Center report in 2013 found that 57% of polled adults aged 18 to 29 did not know that the 1973 case dealt with abortion. While we all have strong opinions on the sanctity of life and the right to choose, we really aren’t educated on what we’re fighting for.
That’s what this episode is all about. This episode of Anglicans in Action is going to share with millennials what Roe v. Wade actually was about. Buckle up and get ready for a history lesson… here we go!
Until about 1880, abortions were allowed under common law and widely practiced in the United States. At that point, the status of abortion was left up to the states to decide, and by 1900, every state had a law forbidding abortion at any stage, whether through the use of drugs or procedures. In 1959, the American Law Institute, advocated for the liberalization of abortion law. They suggested that the law should make exceptions for women who were raped, whose fetuses were deformed, and whose mental or physical health was at stake. In the late 1960’s, a feminist movement began to argue that women could not be full citizens unless they could control reproduction. Together, these shifts pushed state legislatures to reform their abortion laws. It was from here that the anti-abortion movement, now known as the pro-life movement, was born.
Roe v. Wade was a radical Supreme Court decision in 1973. It was the turning point. Remember, before this case, abortion was illegal in the United States. Here’s the background on the case that changed everything: Norma Nelson was a high-school drop-out. She had run away from home and been sent to reform school. Her parents divorced when she was 13. She suffered abuse, was married at 16, and was on her third pregnancy by the time of the trial. She initially said that this pregnancy was the result of rape, but years later she said she had invented the rape story in an attempt to make a stronger case for an abortion. McCorvey challenged a state law that made it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion unless a woman’s life is at stake. To protect her privacy, McCorvey is listed as “Jane Roe” in all court documents.
By the end of the trial, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in all fifty states. It opened the door for 60 million abortions in America. Today, the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that permits elective abortions past 20 weeks. The case, along with others around the same time period, forced states to allow abortions for almost any reason up to birth. The decisions took away states’ rights to regulate abortions and protect unborn babies. More recent Supreme Court rulings have allowed for modest abortion regulations and restrictions, but abortions remain widely unregulated in the first and second trimester of pregnancy.
In 1995, McCorvey became a Christian, and started advocating for the sanctity of life at all stages, saying that she deeply regrets the damage that her case initiated. After coming to know Jesus, she spent the rest of her life dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death before she passed away in 2017.
Woah, that was a lot. But, as with everything, awareness truly does begin with education, especially the next generation of leaders, the millennials. Despite the rising political climate in the U.S., Norma’s life is a great reminder of what the real issue of abortion is. Abortion is a soul issue… not a political one. At the root of abortion, lies a belief that human life isn’t valuable. That somehow, our worth is dependent on age, status, or sustainability. I’m encouraged by the fact that despite these lies, a recent Gallup poll showed that more than half of Americans want all or most abortions to be made illegal.
I hope this short history on abortion in the United States brings awareness to all that the pro-life movement is fighting for. We’re fighting for life. And I for one, am so pumped that Anglicans for Life is getting millennials of our churches in this fight.