How One State Judicial Election May Determine the Value of Thousands of Unborn Children
On Tuesday, April 4, Wisconsin will hold one of the most important state Supreme Court elections in several years. This election has been all over the news, not only in Wisconsin, but nationwide. Why? Because of one central issue — abortion. Abortion has been illegal in Wisconsin (with only a life-of-the-mother exception) since the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade last June. In fact, as a result of Dobbs, in the first two months alone, it is estimated that more than 10,000 babies’ lives were saved from abortion.
We give thanks that so many preborn children have been spared, for they are holy images of God their Creator. We recall the words of Psalm 139: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.”
This great step forward in respect for the preciousness of human life is now at risk. Advocates of legal abortion in Wisconsin are pinning their hopes on the state Supreme Court race that is part of the April 4 election, with the winner serving a 10-year term as a justice on that court. If the composition of the court can be swung in their direction, abortion advocates believe that the 1849 state statute outlawing abortion will be struck down, opening the door once more to the killing of unborn children in Wisconsin.
Millions of dollars have been poured into this race, much of it from outside of Wisconsin, making it the most expensive state Supreme Court race in our nation’s history. The deceptive buzzwords of “choice” and “reproductive health” have come fast and furious in political ads on TV and in other media. This new dynamic, in which local and state judicial races gain national attention and massive amounts of outside spending, highlights the shifting battleground following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. What was a targeted judicial battle squarely at the U.S. Supreme Court has now trickled down to all legislatures and local courts to determine whether laws will protect all people including the preborn or not.
The issue of abortion took center stage during last week’s public debate between the two candidates in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Former Justice Dan Kelly, who has been endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin, was attacked by his opponent, Janet Protasiewicz, for these endorsements. For her part, Protasiewicz has been endorsed by several prominent pro-abortion organizations, including Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List.
How can church leaders educate their congregations ahead of elections like this one without endorsing candidates? They can remind their people that it is the responsibility of voters to inform themselves on where the candidates stand on the issues, especially a life-and-death issue like abortion. They can do this without even naming the candidates. They can then assert their own civilly protected right and duty as church leaders, which is to underscore the moral principles at stake, noting that without the God-given right to life, all other rights are meaningless.
Of course, if we are to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called not only to defend the lives of children in the womb, but also to show love and support to women facing pregnancy in difficult circumstances. In the case of Wisconsin, there are more than 80 pregnancy resource centers throughout the state, ready to welcome expectant mothers with open arms and compassion, and to assist them with any needs they may have. Choose Life Wisconsin and Care Net are great resources to find the nearest pregnancy center. No one needs to face the challenges of a difficult pregnancy alone, and it is imperative that our churches be at the forefront in supporting this compassionate care.
This overlooked off-year election will play a major role in determining whether Wisconsin will remain a state that cherishes and defends the right to life of the child in the womb. It is sobering to note that election day, April 4, falls on Tuesday of Holy Week, the week when Jesus gave his very life to show his love for us and save us from our sins. This demonstrates so clearly the need for every voter to realize the importance of their vote and how vital it is to enter the voting booth with a well-formed conscience.
Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs - Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.