by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
God pulled off some pretty cool judo. Did you catch it?
Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS for short, handed down a 5-4 victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case. If you’re not familiar, the case was a challenge to the government over-reach of a California State Assembly law (AB775) in favor of free speech by local, non-profit, pregnancy help centers. The law had a carefully twisted criteria that singled out these pro-lifers to compel them, among other things, to advocate abortion access provided by the State of California.
The decision itself was an answer to prayer – and there had been lots of prayer about the law and in particular as it was being heard and decided at the Supreme Court. Certainly God was in that, as it affirmed His value for championing His Gift of Life. The judo comes in when we step back and look at the whole story from the beginning of the journey to the victorious ruling at the highest court in our land (SCOTUS).
The original draft of the bill, AB 775, that would become the law that would be challenged, did not arise just from a concerned California elected official. The original draft came from none other than Big Abortion itself. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and their ilk leveraged their political muscle by planting the framework for this bill with one of their elected lackeys. The party of abortion that dominates the California political landscape voted favorably with their Governor Brown making it official. Finally, in their minds, the pregnancy help centers would have to fall in line with their abortion agenda through the might of their government power.
Fortunately, the California pregnancy centers didn’t buckle to this raw abuse of government power. The majority refused to comply pending the outcome of the NIFLA lawsuit. A few were bullied into compliance by the zealous Los Angeles County attorney who, seemingly, has little better to do than threaten pro-lifers trying to help women make the healthiest choice for their baby.
A fundamental principle of judo is to defend against attacks by using the strength and momentum of the attacker. The insistence of Big Abortion to use government to do its bidding was the very strength and momentum that God used to defeat them. Instead of codifying their allegations against pregnancy centers and compelling each to convey their pro-abortion message, the result of their efforts is to have the free speech and right of conscience confirmed by the highest court in the land! Other states (Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois, for example) that folowed California's lead can expect to watch similar laws fall like dominoes after the decision this week. In fact, we've already seen progress in the City of Hartford, Connecticut where Hartford Women's Center is breathing a sigh of relief.
This echoes from what Joseph understood (Genesis 50:20), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” There’s the judo! God turned the narrow (California) legislative attack to a national (all of the U.S.A.) affirmation of pregnancy help centers.
But that’s not all. Through NIFLA v. Becerra, more and more people are hearing about the good work of pregnancy help centers. Lawyers will cite this case for their own free speech battles. Young attorneys-in-training will learn about this case in law school. Multiple media outlets – secular and religious – have been highlighting the conflict between free speech and conscience and the State of California’s overreach. In the process, they’ve conveyed the life-affirming work of PHCs to hundreds of thousands, maybe over time millions, who would never have heard otherwise.
Thank you, God, for the masterful judo lesson. (Understanding that judo was only invented in the 1800s and you’ve exercised the principle philosophy for a lot longer than that.)