Protests at the Supreme Court of the United States on the day Roe vs Wade was overturned.
"2022.06.24 Roe v Wade Overturned – SCOTUS, Washington, DC USA 175 143227" by Ted Eytan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
By Georges Buscemi, President of Campagne Québec-Vie
Last year’s reversal of the Roe vs. Wade decision in the U.S. may have prompted some to believe that a tectonic shift was underway in favour of the protection of unborn life in the U.S. and around the world. However, this stunning pro-life victory, which abolishes any so-called “right” to abortion in the U.S. and grants states the right to limit—or liberalize—abortion as they see fit, as epochal as it may be, should motivate pro-lifers to deepen their view of the battle against abortion, if they wish to make any long-term progress. For, as I have argued elsewhere, the fight over abortion is symptomatic of a deeper cultural battle between two opposing worldviews: the first an a-religious “liberal” worldview, and the second a non-liberal, religious worldview. While the fall of Roe is good news for the pro-life side, the ultimate defeat of abortion will depend on each country’s success, on both an individual and societal level, at rejecting the “pro-choice” or liberal worldview and adopting the religious one.
My diagnosis seems to have been at least partially confirmed by a recent Pew Research Center study on Global Attitudes to Abortion and Religion. Published on June 20, this international survey of 24 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, first reveals a disturbing truth, that favourable attitudes towards legal abortion predominate in Europe and North America. In Canada, for example, over 75% of the population agrees that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, whereas 17% wishes it were illegal. In the UK, 84% of the population favours legal abortion and 14% opposes it, while in the U.S., 62% believe that abortion should remain legal in all or most cases, whereas 36% say the opposite. In certain European countries, the situation is far more dire: in Sweden, for example, an overwhelming 95% of the population thinks abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with a barely measurable remnant of 2 or 3 percent thinking otherwise.
But what I consider the most interesting part of this study is its demonstration that attitudes to abortion are very closely related to attitudes towards religion. This study shows that in country after country, with very few exceptions, religious adherence (or lack thereof) precisely predicts whether the country will be disposed or not to legalizing abortion. In Indonesia, for example, where 97% of the country’s 274 million people deem religion to be “very” important, fully 83% think that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Conversely, in the land of Ikea (Sweden) where 95% agree that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a corresponding 74% believe religion to be not at all or not too important to them. In other words, the more religious, the more pro-life and conversely, the more a-religious, the more “pro-choice” or favourable to legal abortion.
I believe this very strong relationship between attitudes towards abortion and views on religion to be more than a coincidence. While it is true that the abortion question is not a religious or theological one per se, it does rest on one’s conception of what it means to be human and why that matters. And this question, about the meaning of being human and our place in the cosmos, and why it matters whether innocent human life is killed, is intimately related to the question of the existence of a Creator God to whom we owe our existence and to whom we owe worship, thanksgiving, and obedience.
Respect for innocent human life, while not in principle rejected by the liberal worldview, is subordinated to the individual’s so-called right to choose what he or she thinks matters most to them. The liberal polities within Europe, the UK and North America largely leave it to individuals to decide on matters of life and death, right or wrong. This is terrible news for the unborn, whose lives literally hang in the balance of their mother’s current opinion on the inviolability of innocent human life. In non-liberal, religious societies, on the other hand, an individual’s “right to choose” is subordinated to the need to respect the commands of a Creator God. While this leaves less room for personal initiative, it very often closes the door to crimes such as abortion.
But the ill-effects of liberalism are felt far beyond the boundaries of theology. Liberalism, with its emphasis on “choice” over and above all other considerations, erodes even the concept of a common rationality that enables society to rationally justify and implement its societal goals. For the liberal ultimately believes that one’s view of what is true or false morally or even scientifically speaking is a purely subjective, or individual matter. The baffling U.S. Supreme Court decision Casey v. Planned Parenthood of 1992 (which ratified Roe v. Wade and was therefore overturned with it), perfectly summarizes, in one astounding sentence, the ideology of liberalism when it states: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” But if one has a “right” to define “one’s own concept of existence” and “the mystery of human life” this means that one has a right to define manhood, womanhood, and humanity. And lo, this is what we see today in liberal societies: the trans movement considers inviolable an individual’s right to decide what male and female mean, while the “pro-choice” movement considers sacred the right to determine at what point in gestation human life exists. In such a context, the basis for reasoned debate on any moral and even scientific topic evaporates, and what is left are the contradictory opinions of atomized individuals, the stronger, more moneyed of whom end up prevailing over the poorer and weaker. Truth and the unborn are the worst for it.
Ultimately, the pro-life movement needs to be a movement for the respect of religious and moral truth in society, against Western liberalism which banishes the question of truth about God, man, and morality to the domain of “personal choice.” While this Pew centre study could provoke despair about the future of the pro-life movement in some, I hope that for most pro-lifers it will serve as a beneficial bucket of ice water on the head, waking us up to the reality that nothing is gained by setting aside “religious questions,” but that the future of the pro-life movement and the lives of the unborn depend on individuals and society being non-liberal and religious.