By Jonathon Van Maren
On February 23, 1807, the Slave Trade Act passed by 283 votes to 16, and William Wilberforce sank into his seat and wept for joy. On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and church bells clanged in celebration as the news spread. And on June 24, 2022, six U.S. Supreme Court justices struck down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. My vision blurs as I write. What a historic day. What an occasion for joy, gratitude, and hope. Many believed this day could never come. It is here.
I see that “Praise God” is trending on Twitter; conservative commentator Eric Erickson simply tweeted out the Doxology. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that June 24 would be a holiday and announced: “Praise the Lord, abortion is illegal in Texas.” Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a proclamation making it illegal for doctors to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin has already halted all scheduled abortions in Madison and Milwaukee. Abortion activists are venting their rage, and some are planning a night of blood and fire. But untold thousands, likely millions, will live and not die because of what happened today.
I’ve thought several times this morning of the tireless pro-life activists who worked towards this day for decades but didn’t live to see it—men like Joe Scheidler, the godfather of the pro-life movement. How happy he and so many others would have been to see the day they struggled and prayed for so hard and so well. They fought the good fight, and in God’s good time their fervent hope that Roe would be reduced to the ash heap of history was realized. Those celebrating today reached this dawn in part due to the tireless efforts of those who labored through the dark night. May their memory be eternal.
Many are noting that with the death of Roe, the real work of the pro-life movement has just begun. This is certainly true. We are now in a post-Roe world, and while some states will act to protect the unborn, pro-lifers will have to work long and hard to see laws passed, enacted, and enforced. But the work was not done when the 1807 Slave Trade Act passed, either—it would not be until 1833 that slavery itself was banned in the British Empire. The work had just begun when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, too. But Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time to dance, to laugh—to rejoice. This is one such day. I think often of a few lines from Alfred Tennyson. They came to me again today:
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.