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Pro-life, pro-abortion activists discuss the legacy of Roe v. Wade

42 years since landmark case set U.S. judicial precedent

by Peter Benyola
John Barros prays for a young women who chose life outside the abortion clinic in Orlando on Oct. 7, 2013.

John Barros prays for a young woman who chose life, outside the abortion clinic in Orlando on Oct. 7, 2013.

 

At the turn of the 20th century, abortion was essentially outlawed by almost every state in the Union. In 1971, a pregnant single woman brought a class-action lawsuit against the constitutionality of the Texas criminal-abortion laws, which prevented attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother’s life. In summary, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and on Jan. 22, 1973 — exactly 42 years ago — the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled in the favor of abortion-on-demand, “under the Fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.” That changed the legal precedent for all states in one fell swoop.

Since 1973 in the U.S., a recorded almost 57 million unborn lives have been surgically ended in the name of “the right to choose.” Some people, such as John Barros, think this problem is serious enough to work full-time to counsel women into alternatives to abortion.

John Barros preaches to young women waiting for abortion procedures outside the Orlando Women's Center on Oct. 7, 2013.

John Barros preaches to young women waiting for abortion procedures outside the Orlando Women’s Center on Oct. 7, 2013.

Barros is an evangelist who witnesses, prays and exhorts full-time at the Orlando Women’s Center, one of about six abortion clinics in Orlando. Barros, from California, became a Christian in 1975 and arrived at the Reformed tradition in 1980, and is now a member of St. Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. He began his ministry in 2003 by visiting clinics on Saturdays, and in 2009 he started going to clinics every day. He persuades women who go there to instead seek help at local crisis pregnancy centers, and his life is threatened often. People have pulled guns and knives, but they always stop short of harming him. He said that he trusts God to provide for his family in case something happens to him.

Between eight and 15 early- to late-term abortions take place at this clinic almost every day, which in 2013, closed and reopened amid an injury lawsuit.

Barros often refers to a Bible passage, Proverbs 31:8-9, as the clarion mandate for his ministry: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

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