Friday (Jan. 22) marks the 37th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Taken together, the two rulings (authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, a United Methodist) effectively voided dozens of state laws aimed at protecting unborn children from abortion.
Since then, abortion doctors have performed 50 million abortions in the U.S. — primarily for purposes of birth control rather than for medical reasons. On average, five abortions occur in America every minute of every hour of every day.
The pro-life prayer guide below is adapted from material prepared by Lifewatch, also known as the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality. A PDF copy of the prayer guide, designed for use as a church-bulletin insert, is here. (UM pastor Chris Roberts has prepared additional material that can be used as bulletin insert.)
Lifewatch will host its annual worship service Friday at the United Methodist Building, next door to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bishop Scott Jones, who presides over the Kansas Area of the UMC, is scheduled to deliver the message.
In previous years, Bishop Will Willimon (North Alabama) and Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Florida) have addressed the Lifewatch gathering.
At the 2004 service, Bishop Whitaker said a church that supports abortion undermines its proclamation of the gospel.
“[W]e who are United Methodists…have a responsibility to live according to our first rule [of the Methodist General Rules], which is to do no harm,” he declared. “Do no harm to the unborn! Do no harm to the witness of the Church as a peaceable people! Do no harm to the Gospel of peace!”
In 2008, the United Methodist General Conference passed legislation acknowledging “the sanctity of unborn human life” and noting that United Methodists are bound to “respect the sacredness of life and well-being of [both] the mother and the unborn child.”
The United Methodist Book of Discipline also states that the UMC “cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control” (¶161J).
Shortly after Friday’s Lifewatch service, the annual March for Life begins on the Mall in Washington, D.C.The event, which draws tens of thousands of pro-lifers each year, will be aired live (beginning at 11 a.m. ET) on EWTN, the Roman Catholic cable/satellite TV channel. (EWTN’s coverage will be repeated at 10 p.m. ET.)
Go here for live audio and video online.
The March for Life has been held annually since 1974.
Many churches will observe this Sunday as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.