So-called States' Rights and Abortion


Some God-fearing pro-lifers claim that abortion is a "states' rights" matter. The claim is that the very principles of justice (i.e., God Himself) would have federal governments tolerate a state's decriminalization of murder generally, or decriminalization of murder for any particular group of victims. (Whether the victims would be Jews, Christians, or children, the principles remain the same.) But the abortion states' rights position is as immoral as Roe v. Wade itself. The federal government has no authority to decriminalize child killing and neither do the states.

USA mapIn America, as with slavery, so too with abortion, it was the states themselves and not the U.S. Supreme Court that launched our abortion holocaust. The historical revisionism of Ron Paul and others aside,  in the seven years before Roe v. Wade, 19 states were striking down their own laws banning abortion or otherwise explicitly permitting child killing to varying degrees. The state-sanctioned slaughter began in Mississippi in 1966. Prior to 1973, the states permitting abortion for various reasons were MS, CO, CA, OR, NC, NY, AK, HI, WA, FL, AL, AR, DE, GA, KS, MD, NM, SC, VA, and New York which allowed "elective" abortion on demand through six months.

The Bible can help pro-lifers think through all of this. Adhering to the principles of justice presented in Scripture would benefit not only America but of course any nation at any time in history. Israel's 12 tribes are sufficiently similar to America's original 13 states to draw some lessons regarding "states' rights." For the Bible is not silent on the question of whether subdivisions of a national (federal) government have the authority to refrain from prosecuting the murder of the innocent. The Bible approves of local law enforcement, even local prosecution for murder (Deut. 21:1-9). But Scripture indicates that there is no local right to refrain from the prosecution of murder.

  • Negative Evidence: No Scripture says the king should tolerate tribes that permit murder.
  • Positive Evidence: The Book of Judges chapter 21 teaches that God does not recognize a local right to decide whether or not to prosecute murder. Rather, when one of the twelve tribes of Israel refused to prosecute the murder of a concubine, for that lawlessness, the rest of the nation was justly outraged and moved to action, and with God's endorsement, they lawfully used force to punish Benjamin including of course any local authorities and magistrates who "would not listen..."

So all the men of Israel were gathered... united together as one man. Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What is this wickedness that has occurred among you? Now therefore, deliver up the men... that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!" But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. ... [So] The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel. And the children of Israel destroyed that day twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites; all these drew the sword. Judges 20:11-13, 35

God's Word makes it clear that there is no "right" for a state to decriminalize murder nor to refuse to prosecute murder. As in Benjamin, such a "right" is tantamount to lawlessness. And such lawlessness, being manifestly destructive of all rights, cannot itself be an instance of any "right", state or otherwise. Righteous anger at any federal government does not validate perversion of justice. Those angered at a wicked federal government should exercise self-control to avoid claiming that the evil government can go ahead and look the other way and ignore crimes committed anywhere within its borders against the innocent.

It's hard to image evangelical Christians being killed in Massachusetts rejecting protection from federal marshals; but it's easier to claim state supremacy when the blood is not one's own. Claiming that any subdivision of government, whether state, district, tribe, or province, should be tolerated even if it decriminalizes the shedding of innocent blood is an example of giving man's law supremacy over God. No true principle of justice, but only unrighteousness, would lead a nation to tolerate murder within its borders, whether of concubines (Israel), of Jews (Germany), or children (America).

Another lesson from the Bible regards the head of Israel's "federal" government. Even though Ahab was not the one who ordered the killing of a man named Naboth, the Scriptures teach us that Ahab himself was guilty of murder (1 Kings 21:19). Why? By not prosecuting that murder, he became an accessory after the fact.

Notice also that the pro-life emphasis that "judges don't make law" misses the mark. Hundreds of states and nations have enacted legislation condoning the killing of innocent children. This argument only makes sense when used opportunistically, to exploit some incidental public anger against the judiciary. But it is not a fundamental argument against child killing. If judges don't make laws, but legislators do, then legistlators will. In reality though, true law is discovered, not invented, by any governing official. Further, in the slightly askew phrase, "make law" is ambiguous. If a righteous judge in an evil nation asserts that a human being has the right to convert to Christianity, for example, he is not "making law", but recognizing basic human liberty given by God to every man. If a righteous judge in Germany had ruled against the killing of Jews, he would not have been therefore evil for "making law", but righteous for upholding the foundation of all human law, God's enduring command, Do not murder. Thus, "judges don't make law" is another attempt in a centuries-long series of seeking process solutions to fundamental moral questions.

If you love any governing official, federal or otherwise, you will not lead him to ignore Solomon's warning from almost 3,000 years ago:

Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, "Surely we did not know this," does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? - Proverbs 24:11-12

"The law condemns and punishes only actions
within certain definite and narrow limits;
it thereby justifies, in a way,
all similar actions that lie outside those limits."
- Leo Tolstoy widely attributed

Please see also the pro-life profile of Ron Paul for further discussion of abortion and states' rights. And you're invited to watch online Focus on the Strategy III (or via DVD).

Update -- 1966 or 1967? What's in a year? There's a reason why some people wrongly think that the modern U.S. abortion era began in 1967 in Colorado, instead of 1966 in Mississippi. That reason is Nat'l Right To Life.

NRTL supports politicians who hold the same position that began the U.S. abortion holocaust. That is, NRTL supports politicians who will kill various children, including for example, if the father is a criminal. So NRTL's website at Abortion History Timeline omits the 1966 "legalization" in Mississippi of the killing of the baby of a rapist. Why? Because how could they highlight that grave wickedness without exposing the same wickedness in the politicians that they misrepresent as 100% pro-life? While NRTL's two timeline charts omit Mississippi, 1966 is included in their text (i.e., in the fine print), which most readers ignore (including those who innocently repeat NRTL's misinformation, e.g. Students for Life).

Federally, Roe v. Wade was decided by a Republican court, written by a Republican justice, and passed with mostly Republican votes. At the state level, the "Model Penal Code on Abortion" permitting child killing for fetal handicap, maternal health, rape and incest, was first signed into law by Republican governors John Love in Colorado and Ronald Reagan in California. Since 1973, the court has always had a Republican majority yet has never overturned its own Roe opinion; working toward that as the primary way of ultimately ending abortion is a politically naïve strategy; and not a single sitting justice has ever acknowledged the unborn child has a right to life. Yet with all this, of course American RTL opposes all Democrats (see our unfurling of the world's largest protest sign against Barack Obama) and all Republicans (as we exposed the radical pro-abortion record of Mitt Romney) who support the intentional killing of any innocent children. Jesus rebuked hypocrites and while the general public, not surprisingly, give liberals a pass, they quickly condemn as hypocrites conservatives who have double standards. Thus American RTL makes an effort to avoid double-mindedness (James 1:8), differing measures (Proverbs 20:10), and hypocrisy (Luke 6:42).

Taking yet another page from liberals, Nat'l RTL has been guilty of their own partisan revisionist history with a political spin on reality that makes it particularly hard to end child killing, since the responsible parties are often misrepresented as blameless (e.g., Republican Justices, Romneycare, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, etc.). Like lawyers, NRTL covered themselves in the fine print. (Their section, How the Nation's Largest and Most Effective Pro-Life Group Began, mentions 1966.) So for decades, NRTL has led activists to think that the current U.S. abortion holocaust began in 1967 in Colorado because the actual truth shines too bright a light on their own child-killing candidates and regulations, which are similar to the very ideas, child killers, and laws that started today's abortion holocaust in the first place. If you'd rather not know such things, then don't bookmark our ARTL website, don't sign up for our 40 Days Pro-life Education, and whatever you do, don't watch our Focus on the Strategy documentary. Instead, you can get all your information at

Tragically, America elected Donald Trump, a pro-abortion child killer for president,
who began spending taxpayer dollars by fully funding Planned Parenthood
and who says he'd be happy for states to kill unborn children.