In this two-part series, pastors Derek and Cliff discuss the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and other issues related to the sanctity of life.
Derek: Welcome to With all Wisdom, where we are applying biblical truth everyday life. My name is Derek Brown. I am pastor and elder at Creekside Bible Church, and I am here today with Cliff McManis. He is also pastor and elder at Creekside Bible Church in Cupertino, California. We are both professors at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in Vallejo, California. And today we want to do part two of our two-part series on the sanctity of life. But before we get to our topic for today, please check out WithAllWisdom.org, where we have a large and growing collection of resources—both audio and written resources—that are all aimed to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus [and with] everything being rooted in God’s Word to help you grow in spiritual maturity. And now to part two of our sanctity of life topic, in response to that Supreme Court ruling last week. That Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade and now has said that a right to an abortion is actually not a constitutional right. It’s not a right at all. Now it’s been pushed back to the states to allow the states to determine whether or not they will uphold any kind of so-called abortion rights—whether they will ban abortion altogether. And so I want to turn it over to you, Cliff. You wanted to give some background kind of talk about the state of things right now—what the actual ruling entailed, and a few other things related to this most recent situation in the Supreme Court.
Cliff: Yeah, it was historic last week. So in June of 2022, the Supreme Court, five to three to one (that was strange [that it was] five to three to one), overturns Roe v. Wade. Now that was cause for rejoicing and celebrating. I’m glad that happened. But that’s not the end of the story. I was also (with that ruling) a little nervous because of implications forthcoming. And so I just wanted to explain a little bit what that ruling was all about—the implications. How it affects, particularly, those living in California and Christians. So, what did they rule last week? Well, yeah, they overruled or overturned Roe v. Wade, but they didn’t eradicate abortion in America.
Derek: Right, right. That’s not what happened.
Cliff: So, we need to be clear about that. Why would I be rejoicing over the ruling last week? Well, the main reason I was rejoicing is because the justice system has made a proper ruling regarding the way it should work here in America, in terms of the Constitution. The Supreme Court—the nine justices—they’re only supposed to be making rulings of what’s in the Constitution and interpreting the Constitution. If something is not in the Constitution, they shouldn’t be saying anything. So, they shouldn’t have been making interpretations or comments or giving edicts about gay marriage when they did, because marriage is not in the Constitution.
But one of the amendments of the Constitution says that anything not in the Constitution needs to be delegated to the states and to the people. And we have fifty states. And so, if it’s not in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has no authority. They shouldn’t say anything. You should just push it back to the states. And then, each state needs to decide what they’re going to do on that issue. For example, on the speed limit, the Constitution of the United States says nothing about what the speed limit should be. But at some point, the federal government got involved and used its authority and decided the maximum speed limit as you drive across America from one state to another is sixty-five, and you can’t go over that. And then finally, in the 1990s, there were some lawmakers who said, “You can’t do that.”
They said that should be left to the states because the speed limit is not mentioned in the Constitution. And, lo and behold, that happened. In the 1990s, the legislature of the United States agreed and put that ruling back into the power of the people with every state. So then the 1990s, you weren’t confined to just driving sixty-five miles an hour maximum as you drive across the United States. And every state was allowed to decide what their speed limit would be. So, it was kind of cool. You could go into some states driving through the Midwest where they didn’t even have a speed limit. A lot of them raised it up to seventy or seventy-five miles an hour. I remember that because I was celebrating,
Derek: Well, I lived in Montana during that time, and for a couple years [Montana] had no speed limit.
Cliff: That’s awesome. Actually, now that I think about it, it was fifty-five miles an hour—that was the maximum speed. Can you imagine?
Derek: No, I can’t!
Cliff: Fifty-five. So for ten-plus years, I had to drive fifty-five (max) across the country, and then in the nineties, it was left to the states. That’s the way it should be. So that’s what the Constitution allows in one of the amendments. And that’s also true of abortion. So that’s what happened last week. A majority of the Supreme Court justices were honest and said the Constitution doesn’t talk about abortion. Therefore, Roe v. Wade is illegitimate. The federal government can’t be giving mandates on this issue, and this needs to go back to the states. So that was a good thing. That’s how our Constitution and government are supposed to work.
So that was cause for celebration. Another cause for celebrating in light of that ruling is that now there were some states that wanted to ban abortion altogether, like Missouri and Texas and Oklahoma and others. And now they’re allowed to do that, because the federal government wouldn’t be intervening. So that was cause for celebration, if you live in those states. The concern that we have currently facing us is, because the Supreme Court said [that] every one of the fifty states needs to decide their own abortion rules and laws—so, if the people in each one of those states want to outlaw abortion, fine, let the people do that. And each state has to determine that. But the bad news is that each state can also decide, “No, we want to keep abortion. As a matter of fact, we want to make abortion more extreme and available.”
Cliff: As a matter of fact, we want to go beyond what Roe v. Wade allowed, which was that you can have an abortion within the first two trimesters. That’s in 1973, basically. That’s what they said. You can have an abortion until viability of the infant, and in the last trimester you shouldn’t have an abortion. But now that all changes. And there are plenty of states in America that are saying that they want to put laws on the books in their state constitution to allow abortion to happen all the way up through the third trimester—to the very moment of birth. That is worse than Roe v. Wade. So the battle really is just beginning. Now, the battle is not going to be at a federal level. It’s going to be at a state-to-state level, and you’re going to see all these measures on state ballots when they’re voting.
We have one coming up now in the state of California, in the first week of November of 2022. These liberal pro-abortion politicians in the state of California have already passed and approved and are going to put a measure to present before the people to vote on. And it will amend the constitution—the state constitution of California—basically allowing abortion all the way up until birth. So it’s horrible. It is horrific. I don’t know if a lot of people weren’t paying attention, but pro-life people are celebrating Roe V. Wade being overruled, and then quietly over in a corner, Gavin Newsom, governor of the state of California, had a press conference on Friday condemning the Supreme Court’s ruling, and then signing legislation here in the state of California. AB 1666, I think it was called, which is in effect right now, since last Friday.
And basically, what it proposes is California will be a safe haven to protect anybody from other states that want to come here and get an abortion. So basically Gavin Newsom is welcoming all the abortion doctors across America. You want to come here and have abortions? Have at it. You want to get an abortion? Have at it. Even though, in Missouri, for instance, [there is now a law] in the books that if you’re a resident of Missouri and you go get an abortion in California, you can be sued and held accountable by the state of Missouri for doing that, California’s saying, “No, our law protects the person from Missouri and you can’t lay hands on them.” They can have an abortion, and they can go back to Missouri.
So it’s going to get ugly. I mean, a year from now, Derek, we should circle back around and see all that has changed, because this stuff is going to be changing from day to day, week to week, month to month, [in terms of] of the litigation going on, states fighting one another, governors fighting one another, etc. And it’s just going to keep changing, from month to month, [in terms of] what the state laws are. And the more conservative states are going to bolster up their pro-life laws, and the more liberal states are going to seek to get even more blatant abortion laws in the books. So that’s where we see that this is kind of like how it was in the days of slavery during the civil war, where they were fighting on a state level [over whether] a black person was a person or not. That was the debate. And it’s like, is a baby a person? Is a fetus a person or not? It’s very similar to, is a black person a person or not? That’s what this is about. And it’s going to get ugly. And you know, people think our state and our country is polarized up to this point, and it is. This is going to polarize the states even more. Blue and red are going to become dark blue and dark red. You and I, here at the church where we pastor in northern California—how many people have we seen, in terms of members in our church over the last eight to ten years, move out of California to states like Texas, Florida, and more conservative states just to get away from liberal California?
Derek: Oh, it’s been a steady exodus since I’ve been here. I’ve been here for the last eight years. You’ve been here longer. And so you’ve seen the steady exodus last for several years almost. And probably ever since you planted the church in 2006. And so it’s been a steady exodus and a lot of the reasons that we are given by those who are moving out is they’re so disgusted by the politics and the laws of California that they just can’t stay here anymore. And they go to more conservative—politically conservative—states.
Cliff: Yeah. You and I— we’re pastors here in one of the most liberal areas in America. Actually, the most progressive, liberal, basically anti-Bible [places]. It’s hard to live here as a Bible-believing Christian. And I’ve been at the church a little longer than you have, and just in the last ten years here we have seen over 300 of our rock solid members move out of our church and out of California.
So I’ve got a running tally. So our church of 200 people would be a church of 600 people if people decided to stay. But over 200 people have left for the sole reason that it’s too liberal here. And it’s so antithetical to Christianity. So that’s the polarization that I’m talking about. And that’s going to increase all the more. You’ve got these conservative people, and they are going to continue to move out of California, and then California’s just going to be a magnet for pro-abortion, radical politics. So that’s why I said in a year from now the demographic, I think, is going to change in these states. Hopefully, the people do the right thing in November, and vote for life, but that’s coming up. So that’s just something to be aware of. This decision did not end abortion by any means, but it was the right ruling.
Derek: Yeah, exactly. So that’s a good reminder, but a good balance that something is to be celebrated—it was the right ruling. And yet, like you said, the fight is certainly not over and it did not end abortion.
Cliff: Yep. Then I just want to run through some stats real quick. Just to remind us, since 1973 with Roe v. Wade, when abortion was protected as law of the land here in California, because it’s been about 50 years. They say that 50 to 70 million babies have been killed through abortion since then.
Derek: Right. Just here in America.
Cliff: So about an average of a million babies each year, for the last 50 years. 1.5 billion babies have been slaughtered around the world. 1.5 billion. There’s only 8 billion people on earth right now.
Derek: That is just a stunning number. Since when, did you say?
Cliff: For the last 50 years. So about the same time frame.
Derek: Okay. Gotcha.
Cliff: That’s mind-boggling.
Derek: It is.
Cliff: Now, in light of the recent decision, here’s where all the 50 states are as of today. And this will change tomorrow. This will be different next week because there’s all this litigation going on in the states, and there are judges trying to block conservative governors, etc. But right now, even though they made this decision and overruled Roe v. Wade at the federal level last week, abortion remains legal in 35 states out of the 50. So in the majority of the states, full-term abortion is still legal all the way up until birth. Nine months in the womb, you can still kill a baby in the following four states: Colorado (where I was born), New Jersey, Oregon, Delaware, plus the District of Columbia.
Now, what’s interesting, in 1973 with the ruling of Roe v. Wade, you couldn’t kill a baby up to the point of birth. So something happened. When did that change? Well, there was another big case a couple decades after Roe v. Wade. So the original Roe v. Wade was, you can’t have an abortion in the third trimester. That changed with the Supreme Court, which allowed you to have a full-term abortion all the way up to birth. And so, four states have put that on their state constitutions, and that’s still true today. So you can go to Colorado today and get an abortion all the way up until the last minute.
Derek: That is unbelievable.
Cliff: Now today, abortion is illegal in six states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Only in six states is it completely illegal, for the most part. Soon to be illegal potentially in another 11 states.
Derek: I’ve seen those scenarios.
Cliff: So we’ll see how this pans out over the weeks and the months as this all goes to the courts.
Derek: And just to be clear, based on what we had said from Scripture last episode, we would say that the states that are saying that abortion is illegal are the states that are actually correct in their moral judgment—that it should be illegal.
Derek: Because it’s the taking of life. It is a human person.
Cliff: Here’s the status in California. The current law here in California is that abortion is legal up to fetal viability, which means up to 24 to 26 weeks.
Cliff: So basically, you’re not supposed to have an abortion in the last trimester. Gavin Newsom wants to extend this. You can have an abortion all the way up until birth. Nancy Pelosi—same thing. So this is radical. That’s what we’re voting on in November. Currently 154,000 babies are killed in abortion every year in California. 154,000.
Derek: Is it stunning to you at all? I said this in the last episode, but I just still can’t wrap my head around like what you just said in terms of full-term abortion. That that could be advocated. I just can’t wrap my head around how a person can argue for the legitimacy of killing a baby who’s at full-term, where the only difference between that baby in terms of their legal rights are that they are separated by a layer of skin inside the womb. And not outside that womb.
Cliff: Yeah. It’s unthinkable. But there are politicians and lawmakers here in America that have been arguing for partial birth abortion and supporting it for decades. Where you could literally—part of the baby’s foot comes out and you can perform an abortion because part of the baby is still in the womb. And the process of aborting a child in the third trimester is just absolutely gruesome. If you ever saw it or heard about it described as they stick a long needle in there in the top of the baby’s head—it’s disgusting. It’s called vacuuming. Dissection and vacuuming. It’s worse than what the Nazis did.
Derek: Yeah. We’re supposed to be civilized Americans, but that’s where we’re at in California. So if you’re a believer, you can keep praying and staying informed. Trust God. He is sovereign. These are his people; his babies. They’re precious to him. He is in charge, so he’s not going to let this go unaccounted for. God is in charge, and that’s an encouragement. Now you were talking about how unthinkable it was—this late term abortion. I don’t know if you remember, two years ago, during COVID, when the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, was on video, basically condoning abortion and condoning late term abortion. And he went on to describe even post-birth abortion. Condoning that. The irony is, he’s a pediatrician, who is supposed to care for babies and children. And here’s a governor of a state, painting a scenario where, well, it’s possible that a woman could have a baby and we’d take care of it—and he kept calling it a “baby.” We’d take care of its life there until mom and the family make a decision about what they want to do for it. Then if they want to terminate it, then it would be terminated.
Well, I mean, that is the logical end, because the pro-abortion argument is illogical at its beginning. You have to eventually get to that point where that is the conclusion—that there must be the moral allowance to kill the baby outside of the womb. We said earlier that one of the things that abortion proponents have to say is that this being—whatever it is inside the womb—is not a child. And once you start saying that, then you can go all the way to full-term and still be able to take that life. But then it becomes very, very fuzzy—the distinction between when it’s allowed and when it’s not allowed. And now you’re getting to a point where once the child is completely out, you’re still now pondering whether or not you can take that child’s life. There’s the logical outcome of the whole pro-abortion argument. It has to kind of end there, and some pro-lifers have made that argument for a long time—that your argument has to end in infanticide.
Cliff: It does. So it’s infanticide, whether the baby is two months in the womb or two days old after it’s born. Derek, I wanted to get your thoughts on this. During COVID, we’ve heard a lot of Christians say that we need to obey the government, obey the law, and submit to the government—which we would agree with.
Cliff: Romans 13—we’ve talked about that. So we believe in submitting to the government, we believe in Romans 13. No authority exists except that which has been established by God. Well, if you applied that to abortion and follow the law and follow the science, then we would say, let’s follow the law of the land—which, for us, is the constitution. We should support the constitution. We would come to the following two conclusions: number one, the constitution doesn’t talk about abortion. At all. And it does not provide a right to an abortion. Therefore, Roe v. Wade was illegitimate all along. And then number two, if we follow the constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment actually explicitly protects life. That’s the irony—that no state shall make a law that interferes with the life of a human being. That’s in our constitution.
Derek: Yeah. It is. It is the great irony. And you hear this even with those who defend abortion. You’ll hear them talk of protecting the woman’s rights for her to be able to conduct her life how she wants. And yet, at the very same time, protect her rights to kill her baby. You’re not considering protecting the life of that potential woman in the womb—that little girl, potentially, if it is a female. Nevertheless, protecting that right to life in the womb. It’s just a very logically contradictory position.
Cliff: Let me read that phrase. Section one says, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life.” There it is.
Derek: Well, this has been a sobering yet very important discussion. Cliff, I just appreciate you taking us through all these important points. And we encourage you to check out Episode number 42. That was The Sanctity of Life: Part One. This was The Sanctity of Life: Part Two. We hope this has been helpful. We hope it encourages you to pray. If you’re a resident of California, pray for California. Pray for our lawmakers. Pray that God would do a mighty work, even here, and that the churches and that Christians would stand up for life and speak from the Scriptures and uphold life. And just pray that God would do a mighty work so that these kinds of things like late term abortions could be prevented, and even someday, outlawed. And some people didn’t think Roe v. Wade could ever be overturned. And here we are. And honestly, I probably was one of them, thinking that that’ll never happen. Well, here we are. I was one of them.
Cliff: Yeah. I was a doubter.
Derek: Yeah. And so we should continue to be encouraged to pray that the Lord can do amazing and mighty works beyond what we can even begin to ask or think. And so let’s continue to pray, particularly for the states that are now in the trenches of fighting for abortion rights and to even escalate what those will look like in the legislature. So we encourage you to check out WithAllWisdom.org. You’ll find resources related to being pro-life, the sanctity of life, and a host of other practical, theological, and social issues. And until next time, keep seeking the Lord and his Word.