CHRISTIANITY TODAY/August 18, 1989

A Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of a new era in the abortion debate, an era long awaited by abortion foes.

Within days following last month’s long-awaited Supreme Court abortion decision, prolife activists around the country began plans to implement a new stage in antiabortion strategy. Likewise, in prochoice quarters, advocates of abortion were pulling out contingency plans they once thought would never be needed.

As the dust from reaction to the Webster decision settles, both sides are digging in for the battle ahead. Agreeing on little else, they acknowledge that the Court, in paving the way for more state regulation of abortion, has thrown the emotion-laden debate into a different arena, one wherein the issue will be addressed in a far wider variety of social and political contexts.

Roe’S Questionable Future

The Court’s five-to-four decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services upheld several Missouri restrictions on abortion. It prohibits the use of public buildings for medically unnecessary abortions; prohibits public employees, including doctors and nurses, from performing or assisting in abortions; prohibits public funds that encourage abortion; and requires medical tests to determine the viability of a fetus at least 20 weeks old. In addition, the Court allowed a preamble to the law proclaiming that life begins at conception.

Though the immediate impact of the ruling is limited (see “What Webster Did for Missouri,” next page), prolife forces declared it a major victory. “For 16 years, we’ve fought the effects of Roe v. Wade, and time and time again the Court has turned us down,” said Tom Glessner, executive director of the Christian Action Council (CAC). “Now, we finally ...

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