In Colombia, they have a saying that goes, “If it’s raining in the US, prepare for rain.” Pastor Anderson Ocampo in Medellín explains, “Practically everybody assumes that whatever happens in the United States will happen here. Since the United States is the most powerful country in the world, the Dobbs decision to overturn Roe will encourage our pro-life work in Colombia.”
I agree. The end of Roe is strengthening the ongoing effort around the world to end abortion and secure equal rights for all people, born and unborn. Abortion advocates also agree. As South African writer and journalist Matthew Blackman posted, “The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has set off a tsunami of concern around the world among public health experts and women’s rights groups.”
Ripple Effects of Roe
Prior to this, Roe had brought the hard rain of legal abortion to country after country.
“The end of Roe will strengthen the ongoing effort around the world to end abortion and secure equal rights for all.”
Abortion advocate Nina Sun explains, “Roe has . . . been influential in court decisions in other countries that have achieved significant gains in reproductive freedoms. For example, in Kenya, the High Court of Malindi, in affirming that abortion care is a fundamental right under the Kenyan constitution, specifically references and considers key points from Roe.”
In contrast, Nigerian writer Obianuju Ekeocha sees the influence of Roe in Africa as the “ideological neocolonialism of the twenty-first century.” She explains, “The recognition of human life from the womb to the tomb is a common thread that runs through many tribes and towns of Africa.” Yet the West’s unrelenting ideological deconstruction of traditional values — the hyper-sexualization of youth, the normalization of homosexuality, the mainstreaming of gender dysphoria, and of course, the legalization of abortion — rains down on African countries. Are these the new values that must be adopted to be considered part of the modern world?
Leading Countries for Life
Let’s look at this from the reverse angle. A map from Our World in Data shows birthrates by country. The highest rates closely align with countries where the human rights of unborn children are still respected in law to various degrees — mostly in Africa and Central America.
Organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization look at this map as their mission field — the unreached peoples still to be persuaded that legal abortion equates to personal freedom. I look at this map and see these countries as our best examples for recovering the inherent, equal, exceptional, and eternal value of human life rooted in the Bible.
As Ekeocha says, “The most precious gift that Africans can give to the world right now is our inherent culture of life. Most Africans understand, by faith and tradition, the inestimable value of human life, the beauty of womanhood, the grace of motherhood, the blessing of married life, and the gift of children.”
The end of Roe fundamentally helps leaders like Ekeocha in Nigeria. It emboldens the church throughout Africa to petition their governments to reject the billions of dollars in aid offered on condition that they liberalize their abortion laws. It shows people like Pastor Anderson in Colombia that mobilizing the church to defend the value of life in their culture and law can work. “In the most advanced and powerful nation in the world,” they can say, “abortion is now being rejected.” That sentiment may overstate the Dobbs decision, but that is the ripple effect felt in many countries.
In my view, the end of Roe impacts abortion worldwide in one particularly positive way; though in the short term, it invites retaliation. For example, Roe has unleashed waves of vandalism against pregnancy help organizations (PHO) and a resurgence of the slanderous “fake clinic” charges designed to shut them down. The PHO I helped start in Miami was heavily vandalized right after Roe. Then last fall, while I was speaking at their fundraising gala, angry activists stormed in and ran through the crowd, shouting, “Fake clinic! Fake clinic!”
The next day, I got a note from a PHO in Romania. “After the decision that overturned Roe, the media in Romania started an attack against Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Their ‘concern’ was that we are pushing Romania back into the communist era by speaking against abortion and by providing care for women with unwanted pregnancies.”
The Christians who have started PHOs in Bogotá, Santiago, Cuba, and elsewhere know that storms are coming, if they haven’t already. They will be targeted in due time. It is a cross-bearing work.
Message Heard Round the World
Yet long term, the end of Roe sends out a powerful and welcome message to the world. In turning the legality of abortion back to the states, the highest court in the most powerful country has declared that there is something about abortion that is legitimately debatable as a matter of morality and justice. That might appear as a small stone thrown into the pond. But I think it is the one stone that makes all the difference.
The opening sentence of the Dobbs decision reads, “Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” These words have the effect of saying, “There is something about abortion that might be wrong.” In a government that derives its “just powers” from the “consent of the governed,” the people must consider abortion openly and then decide.
“The end of Roe has framed the legitimacy of abortion worldwide as a preeminently moral question.”
The morality or immorality of abortion is precisely what abortion advocates seek to avoid. The decision belongs, they argue, to the category of chocolate or vanilla — a matter of personal choice void of morality. By contrast, the pro-life position is always a moral argument. It is morally wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Since abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being, abortion is wrong.
Slavery too was defended throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by sidestepping the morality of it. But over time, the moral question, as crafted by Josiah Wedgwood in 1784, pierced the darkness: “Am I not a man and a brother?” So today, the Supreme Court has returned the question to the nation as a moral question: “Are the unborn human?” If the answer, biologically, is yes, then you can believe in abortion rights or you can believe in equal rights, but you cannot believe in both at the same time.
More Equal Than Others?
Mary Elizabeth Williams writes, “Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about. . . . A fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss.” That is a position hard for fair-minded people to hold. To try is to sound Orwellian, like saying, “All humans are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
The end of Roe has framed the legitimacy of abortion worldwide as a preeminently moral question. That, in turn, exposes the injustice of abortion and cripples the unrelenting push for legalized abortion worldwide. If it is coupled with a rising church answering the call to rescue the innocent from slaughter (Proverbs 24:11), that would be righteousness at work, and “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34). Let’s pray earnestly for more victories to come.