Bishop Doug Beacham the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a time for reflection.

On January 22, 1973, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was protected under the right of privacy in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. On the 40th remembrance of this decision, many of us will pause to reflect on what has transpired over these years. The number of abortions is difficult to determine, especially since California and several other states have not reported their abortion numbers in recent years. But it is a reasonable figure to consider that there have been nearly 60 million abortions in the United States. Think of that number: sixty million; 60,000,000. Any way you write it, it means that our population is 60 million less than the over 315 million people that should be alive today.

I find myself thinking of the unintended consequences. Did our generation miss another Rembrandt, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Corrie Ten Boom or Billy Graham? Putting aside any specific religious issues, what about the sheer economics of it? Ten thousand Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day until 2029. That’s about 65 million people who will be drawing taxpayer-funded retirement benefits. We sure could use those 60 million we’ve aborted, and continue to abort at a rate of about 1 million a year.

The IPHC has consistently been pro-life. Our Covenant of Commitment states, “We affirm every person’s right to life and maintain a strong position against abortion and euthanasia, both of which undermine the biblical sanctity of life” (2009 IPHC Manual, Article VII, p. 56). We believe that human life begins at conception, and we oppose arbitrary human efforts to end that life. We affirm that regardless of the circumstance, the Creator is at work in every human life.

We are also sensitive to the immense personal struggles women face when confronted with an unwanted, unplanned or uncertain pregnancy. The breakdown of marriage and the societal celebration of sexual license have not led to greater genuine relationships. Instead, these trends have led to an environment that encourages men to have little or no responsibility and to view a woman as an object for physical gratification. Does it seem odd that the proliferation of abortion on demand, sexual license and pornography have all occurred in the same time frame?

For us who seek to walk in grace, truth and love, it is not enough to shout against the darkness. In fact, maybe we would be better off not to shout at all. The biblical command to “walk in the Spirit” (Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:1, 4; Galatians 5:16, 25) calls us to live with the tensions of grace, mercy and truth. Sometimes we are afraid that mercy will be interpreted as permission and approval, so we project righteous anger or disapproval at the expense of mercy.

The girl or woman struggling in the aftermath of careless decisions or the pain of difficult choices could care less how we look to one another in our sanctified shells. I suspect she would want the same thing that all of us who have walked in the isolation and shame of our choices want: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). In other words, we want someone to lovingly care for us.

I’m thankful that there are people in the IPHC family who are doing this. In 1990, Marvin and Joyce Whitfield, pastors in Fayetteville, N. C., would pass an abortion clinic every day and see women entering to terminate the lives of their unborn children. One day Marvin and Joyce said, “Enough.” Instead of yelling at the darkness, they worked with Falcon Children’s Home to begin the IPHC Alternative to Abortion Ministry (ATAM) in eastern North Carolina. They established a refuge where women could find love, training and guidance. Since then, over 300 children have been saved! Thankfully, this story is multiplied across our land by other people who decided to do something constructive.

During Thanksgiving week, there was a groundbreaking for a new facility in honor of this couple. It will be in Falcon near the Children’s Home, and it will provide even more space for girls and women who choose life for their children. At the luncheon honoring the Whitfields, a small cake and candle were brought out to celebrate Joyce’s birthday. As nearly a hundred people sang “Happy Birthday,” I could not help but think that because of the love of Jesus in this couple, there are over 300 children today who have birthdays.

Too many have had “death days.” Let’s do our part to make sure there are more “birth days”!