HARRISBURG (BRN) – In the first week after the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned Roe v. Wade, Senior Regional Alliance Director for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Harrison Smith opened up a webinar addressing “The Church After Roe” in prayer. 

Smith thanked God for this victory and asked for guidance in the ongoing pursuit of protecting the unborn and their mothers. 

During the hour-long webinar, Smith was joined by ADF’s Director of Center for Life Denise Harle; Executive Director at Alternative Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California, Heidi Matzke; and Senior Counsel for ADF’s Legislative Advocacy Team Denise Burke.  

Together they walked pastors and ministry leaders through the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the importance of this decision and what this means for the future of the Church.  

What Happened 

During the hour-long webinar, Director of Center for Life at ADF Denise Harle gave a brief overview of what happened inside the walls of the U.S. Supreme Court the day Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

She stated that, in short, the Supreme Court decided that Roe was a “legal fiction” and that nowhere in the text of the Constitution, or the history of the United States, has there been some fundamental right to terminate a human life. 

In a 5-4 opinion, SCOTUS decided to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case on June 24, 2022, granting power over abortion laws back to the states. 

“They did what’s right,” stated Harle. She emphasized that SCOTUS did not make their decision on a religious basis, but rather on the simple understanding that the text of the constitution does not consent Americans to the right of taking the life of a human being. 

She added that “legally” Roe v. Wade should have never happened 50 years ago and that abortion facilities don’t have a “strong legal argument, other than you shouldn’t go back and change it (Roe v. Wade) now.” 

For nearly 50 years, abortion has been legal in America, making it only one of six countries in the world that allow abortion.  

“75% of all nations do not permit abortion after 12 weeks,” said Senior Counsel for ADF’s Legislative Advocacy Team Denise Burke. 

Although SCOTUS overturning of Roe v. Wade is a victory for pro-life communities, Harle informed that there’s still a long road ahead.  

“There is a lot of work to be done…states can do whatever they want now,” she said.  

Harle added that the Church’s role is to now engage with those who oppose the Supreme Court’s decision, and remain “confident” in what God’s Word says about life and protecting the unborn. 

Why it Matters 

Executive Director of Alternative Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California, Heidi Matzke added to the conversation by sharing how God placed women facing unplanned pregnancies on her heart long ago.  

Both Matzke and her younger sister were raised in a Christian home and very active about sharing their faith during their high school years. After Matzke graduated and went off to college, her sister entered a relationship that was not “God blessed.” 

Her sister broke off the relationship, but later found out that she was pregnant. Young, nervous and dreading ridicule from the Christian community, Matzke’s sister found herself at an Alternative Pregnancy Center. 

The center encouraged her to keep the baby and provided essential resources for her and the child – a little boy who became Matzke’s beloved nephew and has grown up to be a youth pastor at his church.  

Years later, Matzke and her husband found themselves in Sacramento and just miles away from an Alternative Pregnancy Center.  

She quickly got involved by volunteering at the center and eventually was offered the Executive Director position. She has served at the Alternative Pregnancy Center for seven years. 

“When you speak the words, ‘You’re pregnant’ over a woman, those are the most powerful words a woman will hear in her life,” said Matzke.  

“They need hope, they need a listening ear, they need medical assistance…they need Jesus…[and] we have the privilege of serving them not only with free resources, but with the hope of Jesus Christ.” 

Matzke explained that Alternative Pregnancy Centers offer every service Planned Parenthood offers, with the exception of abortion, for free. The centers are independently funded, meaning they do not receive any funding from the government. Alternative Pregnancy Centers are nationwide and also offer OB/GYN services, prenatal care and STD testing. 

“There are women in every state who are going to experience unplanned pregnancy and we need to give them a safe place,” expressed Matzke. 

“More than ever before, we need your prayers,” she added, noting how pregnancy centers have been bombed, attacked and vandalized since the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade was first leaked. 

Churches can help Alternative Pregnancy Centers and other pro-life women’s care centers by praying, staying educated on the issue and giving financially.  

“It is vital that pastors and lay people understand what abortion is…we forget what abortion really is,” shared Matzke, pointing out that a lack of understanding is common due to the political stigma surrounding abortion.  

“On the side of compassion, when we talk about this issue, it’s important that we remember that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

Matzke wrapped up her portion of the webinar by urging pastors to give a theological definition as to why abortion is opposing to God’s Word in a “voice of compassion and love.” 

What’s Next 

Building upon Harle and Matzke’s thoughts, Senior Counsel for ADF’s Legislative Advocacy Team Denise Burke addressed what the overturning of Roe v. Wade means moving forward – for the church, the states and for America. 

“We have to prepare ourselves for the work that lies ahead,” said Burke. She noted the importance of churches working with allies within their states, such as pregnancy centers, state representatives, businesses and nonprofits who function under the same biblical standard. 

“First, I would encourage you to educate your congregations on the state of abortion laws [in your state]…[and] connect with local groups that are advocating against pro-abortion laws.” 

Burke continued: “Look for avenues where you can voice your support for pregnant women and their families.” 

On a national level, Alliance Defending Freedom is working to provide legislative resources for all 50 states. 

“It is our goal to work in all 50 states to provide the most protection for women and their unborn children,” said Burke. 

Already, ADF has created model language to help states provide the most protection for the unborn as well as generated pro-life constitutional amendments, pro-life declaration policies and other foundational documents that support pro-life legislature at the state level. 

To keep pastors and churches informed on the latest state legislation, ADF has created a map that identifies the post-Roe laws in each state. 

Currently, 15 states protect life, 14 states protect life in some circumstances and 22 states allow late-term abortions. 

Burke stated that while the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a “tremendous victory…we will [truly] achieve this victory when abortion becomes unthinkable.” 

To help churches effectively communicate and minister in a post-Roe America, ADF has set up a Resources After Roe page and a donation drive for local pregnancy centers.  

Churches can join the donation drive by filling out a short form on ADF’s website. The drive will run through July with items being dropped off at a local pregnancy center on or around August 12. 

Once signed up for the drive, churches will receive access to a toolkit that will include a sample pro-life message, a PowerPoint template, social media post samples, a sample bulletin announcement and more. 

Churches can also visit the Baptist Resource Network’s How to talk to your church about Roe v. Wade resource page for further assistance in engaging in healthy, informed and Christ-like conversations with their communities.

Watch “The Church After Roe” Webinar