Getting My Pro-Life Advocacy Right-Side Up in SCOTUS Brief

Jun 25, 2021 by David Fowler

Getting My Pro-Life Advocacy Right-side Up in SCOTUS Brief
It has been building for a couple of years, but it hit me like a ton of bricks on Wednesday that the basis for my pro-life advocacy for the last 20 plus years has been predominately upside down and backwards. Thankfully, that mistake will not be made in a friend of the court brief soon to be submitted to the United States Supreme Court on that issue that God led me to write.
What hit me were these verses, often cited by pro-life advocates: “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5-6, KJV).

How I Had Read Those Verses

In the pro-life context, I always thought of those verses as a statement about the value of life and of each person, but that is what I mean about upside down and backwards. God was not so much making a statement about Jeremiah and the worth and value of human beings as He was about Himself. 
God was saying: “I have ordained all things before they come to be. My knowledge of these things is not dependent on their existence for me to know them as would be true for you.” In other words, God doesn’t know things simply because He has a more capacious mind than us. He ordains all things and providentially works them out according to His eternal purposes.

Why is that really the point of the passage? Because what Jeremiah really needed to know was the truth about God; otherwise, as we are told, he would become “dismayed” (v. 17) because people were going to “fight against” him (v. 19). He needed to know God had put him in the crosshairs, a thought soft-pedaled these days because we, like me, tend to read the Bible upside down and backwards.

What Upside Down and Backwards Looks Like

Most of my life I tended to read the Bible from a subject-oriented, existential perspective, meaning I tended to look at myself and my situation or, from a directional standpoint, inwardly and horizontally. Then, with that as my subconscious framework I would go to the Bible. What I was really doing was looking for a “revelation” about me for me and for my sake. Often with good motive—what would God have me do.
But from the first chapter of Genesis to the last book in the Bible, the Bible is first and foremost about the revelation of God. The Gospel is about God (Romans 1:1, 9; 15:16, 19; 1 Peter 4:17) and the knowledge of God. But the knowledge of God is objective—it comes from above and outside me, and then it comes down to me (inwardly) and I can apply it to what is around me (horizontally).
The objective knowledge of God is what is to drive my understanding of myself and all the things around me, not the other way around.
The object of awe, wonder, and amazement that I rightly experience about what it means to be human from the passage of Scripture I referenced arises from what it says about God. That is the proper order of the relational direction between God and me.

Applying This to Abortion Advocacy

So, when I start thinking about how to approach an argument against Roe v. Wade from within Roe’s framework rather than from outside and above Roe, i.e, from what I know about God and His purposes, I have it backwards. 
Getting it backwards will lead me to make legal arguments against Roe that try to undermine Roe from within Roe’s framework. This approach produces arguments limited to getting approval for clinic regulations, requiring certain physician hospital privileges, and prohibiting discriminatory abortions and fetal pain.  
Instead, I should approach Roe from a what-do-I-know-about-God-and-what-He-has-done-and-is-He-doing framework, and then let that determine how I approach Roe’s legal framework.

What the Upcoming Amicus Brief Will Say to SCOTUS.

The latter, God-centered approach, will result in a brief that says this: 
“If constitutional precept commands States to treat nascent human life as vacant of meaning and value apart from subjective individual determination or Court authorization, concurrently placed in doubt is the historic understanding of law as a force defined and constrained by a reality prior to and beyond its coercive impositions.”
In other words, at a fundamental level law is not subjective. Its proper orientation is not grounded in or developed around the subjective opinions of individuals. Law must be rooted in that which is objective and universally true. That is the historic understanding of law from which our Justices have departed. That objective “reality” defines and constrains law within certain boundaries.
It is time someone reminds the Justices that there is a law more fundamental than that which proceeds from their opinions. 
If the Justices do not heed that reminder in the upcoming case, then the words that open every session of the Court will take on special meaning, “God Save The United States and This Honorable Court.”

To learn more about this world and life view, join me for our podcast, God, Law & Liberty.

David Fowler is an attorney and served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.

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