Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Laws don't change minds. . . or hearts

Last month the NY TIMES reported that the decline in abortions predicted was but a wisp of home that changing the law would change minds and hearts.  After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year, it was predicted that the number of abortions would soon plummet across the country and many were rallied to political action within states to keep abortion available. But now new estimates show that whaat was both feared and hoped has not happened. The number of legal abortions nationwide has held steady, may even increased a bit since 2020.  How can this be?  New data from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit specializing in reproductive health, seems to suggest that people are traveling across state lines or using telemedicine to get abortions, including the increased use of abortion pills. The increase in use of those options has at least offset the decrease in abortions resulting from any bans and the SCOTUS overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Laws may change behavior but that behavior will just as likely be more creative ways to do what the heart wants and the mind wills than to accept the alternative.  The work to undo what Roe created must appeal less to the law and more to the mind and heart.  It is intimately connected to the very way our culture has deemed marriage optional, procreation an unpleasant choice, and desire without responsibility to be the things we value most.  Even in churches that have historically opposed Roe and fought for the cause of life, you seldom hear any vocal challenge to the idea that sex is normal and marriage optional, to the practice of cohabitation, to birth control being the norm and conception being the option, and to the use of pills to do what procedures once required.  

Oddly enough, the mantra of the progressives was that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.  Now it is the conservatives who are calling for the same.  The progressives have moved on.  Safe, legal, free, and normal have replaced the Clinton era phrase.  It would seem that no matter how many lives have been lost to abortion can raise an ounce of guilt or shame among the population of America.  Self-interest is perhaps the most powerful motivator and self-interest certainly does not lend itself to the idea of having or keeping a child you were not planning to have.  Long ago I suggested that conservativism as a political movement is less a choice of different outcomes than the speed to achieve those outcomes.  Liberals move fast.  Conservatives move slowly.  But both will eventually end up at the same place -- just a different times.  This is exactly what has happened to abortion.  When one generation becomes accustomed to abortion being safe, legal, free, and normal it is hard to change the minds and hearts of those who have grown up with such an expectation.  

Christians need to concentrate on changing the mind and the heart to affect a real change in the numbers of children flushed from womb on the grounds that nobody wants them.  We cannot depend upon a change in the law to do for us what only a change in heart can do.  Within the churches must come a more deliberate and faithful teaching of a Christian worldview, an appreciation and confidence in God's creative order of marriage, children, family, and home, and a renewed value upon life -- not because we value life but because God valued life so much that He gave His only begotten Son....

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