One of Donald Trump’s main campaign promises and the only major one to date he has managed to fulfill was to appoint a “pro-life” justice to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia. Many of the people who voted for Trump did so solely based on this vacancy. Their justification? But, but, the Supreme Court.
While some hope that by filling the Supreme Court with “pro-life” justices, which due to the age of many of the current justices is within the grasp of the current President, the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion might somehow be overturned, this is unlikely. Gorsuch himself made it clear that he supports the legal concept of “stare decisis” – the decision stands – during his tenure as an appellate judge. Whether or not he reverses himself as a member of the Supreme Court remains to be seen.
What is significant in understanding Justice Gorsuch’s approach to being a pro-life justice was his vote in his first major case on the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, Gorsuch cast the deciding vote to allow Arkansas to execute its first inmate Ledell Lee since 2005. The urgency by the state of Arkansas was based on the fact that the drugs used to administer the execution by lethal injection were due to expire.
Gorsuch voted for death, not life.
While there are opponents to abortion who also support the death penalty, the best explanation on the hypocrisy of this position is provided by the Catholic nun Sister Joan Chittester, OSB, who wrote:
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many ways, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.” [emphasis added]
Sister Joan is absolutely correct. We do need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is. Do we allow children to be born, but are not willing to provide them with the basic necessities of life?
Christians would do well to heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:41-45 [NKJV]
“Then He will say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, your cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”
“Then they will also answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then he will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
One certainly does not need to be a Christian to weigh in on the morality of abortion or the death penalty. Doubtless, many who do so are not even religious. This is a serious conversation that needs a thoughtful and deliberative approach. It is an ethical and moral question to be weighed carefully.
But as you do so, you did need to seriously consider the question: Are you pro-life, or are you just pro-birth?