Kentucky Baptist leaders are encouraging churches to pray and continue serving women and families facing unplanned pregnancies as the fate of landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.
In a leaked copy of a first draft majority opinion overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, another Supreme Court case that reaffirmed the right to abortion in 1992, Associate Justice Samuel Alito said that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”
The draft noted: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”
While the legitimacy of the leaked document was not immediately verified Monday night, the Supreme Court announced it was authentic on Tuesday afternoon. Chief Justice John Roberts said the draft “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, invited churches across the commonwealth to pray that the leaked decision would be the final word.
“When the final decision of the court is rendered, Kentucky Baptists will rejoice at the overturning of Roe and Casey,” Gray said. “In the meantime, we must continue to work and pray to assure legalized abortion will be abolished in Kentucky and ultimately across the nation and beyond. Followers of Jesus cannot rest until abortion is viewed as the human rights atrocity and human dignity scourge that it is, and until every unborn child is protected from it… We stand ready to support mothers and their children, and to help families flourish.”
Harold Best, who currently serves as president for the KBC, said that believers should pray that the high court justices would “not cave to the cultural pressures that will be coming.”
“It is highly likely this draft was leaked for subversive reasons,” Gray said while encouraging Kentucky Baptists to pray for the justices. “I can only imagine the threat to personal safety each of (the justices) must be feeling today. We must ask our elected leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, to see to it that the highest level of protection and security is afforded these justices.”
Best, who also pastors Burlington Baptist Church, added that churches should continue to proclaim that life is a gift from God.
“There will continue to be a real battle to protect the lives of the unborn and to minister to mothers who are trying to raise their children,” Best said. “The church cannot let up on their efforts to protect and defend lives, and at the same time demonstrate the love of God to those who disagree with us adamantly. The work is not done until abortion is abolished, and the gospel is proclaimed unto the ends of the earth.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Kentucky is among 22 states with near or total abortion bans on the books.
Kentucky is also one of 13 states with a “trigger law” that would immediately ban abortions if the high court does indeed overturn Roe v. Wade. The law makes exceptions for abortions deemed necessary by a physician to prevent the death, or serious damage to a life-sustaining organ, of a pregnant woman. An abortion provider would be guilty of a Class D felony, but a woman obtaining an abortion would be protected from any criminal conviction or penalty.
Other pro-life laws on the books include a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected—at around 6-weeks gestation—and a 15-week abortion ban that is temporarily blocked while under consideration by a federal judge. Voters in the commonwealth will also have an opportunity to make their voices heard on the issue in November, when a pro-life constitutional amendment will be on the ballot.
Where the layers of Kentucky abortion law fall into place remains to be seen if the Supreme Court affirms the leaked opinion in their official ruling sometime in late June or early July.