The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

It’s Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Pro-Abortion California May Enshrine Abortion in Its Constitution in November: It’s a Sign of Abortion Extremism in Nation’s Most Populous State

The Dobbs decision handed down by the Supreme Court in late June, that decision that reversed the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, has revealed some of the basic moral fault lines in this country in a way that simply couldn’t have been detected before. There are arguments that are being made now that were not being made just a matter of months ago. Now, those of us who have been in the fight for unborn human life for the last several decades understand that the basic moral contours of the question of abortion remain absolutely the same, and that’s been true going all the way back to the Book of Genesis. But as you think about modern technology and some modern political and sociological developments, well, there are some big game changers and some of them are incredibly revealing.

First, I want us to go to the State of California. Now, as we go to California, I want us to recognize something. California is one of the most pro-abortion pieces of real estate on the entire surface of planet Earth. If you are looking for some of the most liberal abortion laws, the most abortion-friendly legal context, you look to the State of California, which by statute recognizes what it declares to be a woman’s right to an abortion. You also have a state government that effectively pays for abortion under many, if not most, circumstances. And so, as you’re looking at the situation of abortion there in California, it’s actually hard to imagine how a law could be any more progressive or any more pro-abortion. There are certain issues related to late-term abortion and other complexities that might become an issue, but the big fact is, California is one of the most avidly pro-abortion states in the union.

And you also have a governor there, Governor Gavin Newsom, who sees for himself, it is likely a big future in the Democratic Party, perhaps even a presidential run. He has been making assurances, even taunting other states such as Florida, suggesting that people might want to move to California so that they would have access to abortion. And people in California, and even in the California government, are talking about paying for abortions not only for people in California, but for people who might go to California as something of an abortion destination.

But with that just as background, understand that the big headline right now has to do with the fact that California is bringing to voters the opportunity to enshrine a right to abortion, as it is styled here, within the California Constitution. Now, just think about that for a moment. It’s already a matter of statutory law. It is already a matter entrenched in California’s culture. It is even now something that California citizens are paying for through their taxes, confiscated from them by government coercion. Just something to think about here. So it’s hard to imagine how anyone would suggest that abortion rights would be in any sense under fire or under threat in the State of California, for crying out loud, and yet you have people saying, no, we need to enshrine a right to abortion in California’s Constitution. If it does so, it might have a ripple effect elsewhere in the country.

But let’s look at the actual argument there in California, because frankly it’s a stunner. One of the ways to see the argument being made is to look at a statement by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times. On September 5, just days ago, it released a statement. The statement opened, “When the Supreme Court obliterated the constitutional right to an abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade in June… ” Now wait just a minute. Obliterated? The Supreme Court returned the question to the states. When it came to the State of California, there was absolutely no obliteration. There was absolutely no mitigation. Nothing has changed on the ground in California. And I say that with regret. That’s a tragic truth, but nonetheless, it is the truth.

But the editorial board went on to say that lawmakers in nearly half the states, “hurried to enact bans and draconian restrictions on abortion.” They then go on to say, “But other legislators and advocates, including in some of those states hostile to abortion rights, stepped in to sponsor constitutional amendments to protect that right. This year,” says the editorial board, “five constitutional amendments on abortion, some guaranteeing a right to it, some stating that there is no right, have qualified for state ballots across the country, and more are in the process of getting on the ballot.”

But then the editors of the Los Angeles Times, the most influential newspaper in California, they get to the point, “On November 8, California voters will decide on Proposition One, an amendment to the state Constitution explicitly guaranteeing the right to abortion and contraception.” The editorial board then went on to state, “We wholeheartedly support this effort to enshrine in the state Constitution a right that the majority of the Supreme Court wrote off as not deserving protection.” Now, I just have to interject again here. That is not at all what the majority of the United States Supreme Court did. They stated that there was no right to abortion within the US Constitution. They didn’t say that right wasn’t worthy of constitutional protection. They simply said it isn’t in the Constitution. This is not a constitutional question. Roe v. Wade invented a constitutional theory, and that constitutional theory was wrong.

And in that, the majority of the justices were not only right, they were echoing arguments that had been made even by the pro-abortion side even as Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. They knew it was bogus. It turns out that California and Vermont are the first two states to consider adding a right to abortion to the constitution of their state. But when you think about California, again, you scratch your head and you say, why would such a thing be necessary? This is where the argument gets actually pretty interesting. They went on to say, “Do we need it?” Meaning the constitutional amendment. They then went on to say this: “Frankly, every state needs to have the right to abortion stated in its constitution.” They then say this: “That includes California, though it is already one of the most progressive states in the nation on reproductive rights, and lawmakers have passed new laws confirming the state’s status as a haven for abortion.”

So again, they go on to say that not only is California so liberal on the issue of abortion already that it has become something of a destination for abortions, they say that it needs nonetheless to be enshrined in the state Constitution. And that’s where the issue gets even more interesting, because the California Supreme Court has already ruled some time ago that the right to privacy in California’s Constitution is sufficient to undergird and to demand what’s defined as a woman’s right to an abortion. And so it’s not just legislation, it is also a Supreme Court of California decision making very clear that the current Constitution, in the view of that liberal court, also protects a women’s right to an abortion, by their styling.

But here’s where the editors of Los Angeles Times offer what they consider to be a nightmare scenario. So hold on, nightmare coming. “For example, consider this possible scenario. A conservative majority takes control of the California legislature and governor’s office and passes a six-week abortion ban.” The editors understand just how ridiculous this sounds, and they put in parenthesis, “Sounds farfetched? Since the fall of Roe and the assault on democracy, nothing should be taken for granted.” They then go on to say, “Of course, abortion rights advocates would sue, arguing that the ban was illegal because the California courts had interpreted a state constitutional right to privacy to include a right to abortion.” But they then warn, “Future California judges could rule differently.”

Now, let’s just think about this for a moment, because it’s actually hard to imagine a more ridiculous argument that we might confront, and it also underlines something else that people just failed to recognize, and that includes any number of liberals, but also conservatives. There’s a basic fact of politics we just need to keep in mind. As you are looking at the current state government in California, there isn’t, and hasn’t been for some time, a single statewide elected Republican. Not just a few, not just one, none. The number would be zero. When it comes to California state government, overwhelmingly Democratic, so much so that the Democrats don’t even have to think about the Republicans. And so there is absolutely no threat whatsoever in any envisionable future that we can see from 2022 in which there could be anything like a Republican takeover of California state government.

And furthermore, we also have to say that in the State of California, since the era of Ronald Reagan, many of the statewide Republicans, elected now some decades ago, turned out not to be very conservative. So the idea that there would be a conservative Republican electoral coup in California, that’s frankly beyond the most exaggerated dreams of the Republican Party.

And the editors of the Los Angeles Times understand the complexity of their scenario. You have to have an overwhelming Republican majority in the General Assembly. Not only is that not likely, it’s really not imaginable. Then you would have to have a conservative Republican governor, and you would have to have a conservative Republican governor appointing a significant number of judges and justices to tilt California’s court system in a very clearly conservative direction. Again, does anyone actually imagine that such a thing could happen?

But the editors of the Los Angeles Times actually imply something beyond this. They imply that if such a development were to happen in California, and of course they speak of it with a kind of ominous unimaginable dread, if indeed there might be a conservative Republican governor and a conservative Republican majority, pro-life majority in the General Assembly, and if there could be a sufficient number of years for there to be a sufficient number of judges and justices who would rule against abortion, well, if you look at that, you recognize that would mean that the voters decided these things.

Here’s the quandary. If you believe in an electoral system, you believe in an electoral system. And so what’s implausible even just in the math and in the moral context of this atrocious argument is the fact that if those things did happen, it would not be because people on Pluto and Venus elected that conservative governor, it would be the people of California, which is to say elections have consequences. It’s hard to imagine any series of elections in the present or near future doing anything like what is posed as the threat behind this constitutional amendment.

But it just goes to show something else. Even as you’re looking at this kind of issue, both sides in the conflict understand that constitutions really matter and that even if there were to be a political reversal in California, it’s actually less likely that there would be a change to California’s Constitution. That would take even further years of political and moral struggle. That’s what’s really behind this. The pro-abortion forces are just trying to build a new wall and then a wall beyond that and then a wall beyond that.

And in mirror image, that just reminds us of the challenge faced by pro-life Americans, and for that matter, the very much outnumbered right now pro-life Californians. If indeed we have the opportunity anywhere to uphold the dignity and sanctity of unborn life, just passing a law or a statute or establishing a policy won’t be enough. We also have to build a wall and then a wall and then a wall. That’s just the way it works, in order to try to preserve anything in a society.

But this development in California is also a reminder that the two sides in this argument are actually now in a position of such utter opposition that what one side works for, the other side works against. And what one side, in this case the pro-abortion side, hopes for, the pro-life side must pray against. As we all knew the day that Roe v. Wade was reversed in the Dobbs decision, that didn’t end a war, it only opened the door for nearly countless battles. But those are battles we have to fight and seek to win.

Part II

‘You Give A Lot of Your Prime Reproductive Years to Being the Best Athlete in the Building’: Women’s Sports Collide with Reproductive Reality

But next I want to shift to another story on the abortion front, and this one’s received a lot of coverage, no surprise here, from USA Today. Now, on so many different issues, USA Today, owned by Gannett, has simply swerved to the left, so much so that it basically is trying to outflank other major newspapers, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, even The Los Angeles Times, in terms of liberal advocacy and in one sense, in terms of odd angles on so many of these moral issues. Because one of the most interesting and for that matter infuriating aspects of USA Today is how the sports page, the sports section of this particular newspaper, has become so utterly radical, and they might style themselves progressive, on moral issues. I mentioned that on the LGBTQ issue, but on abortion as well.

Two interesting articles that are originating from the sports reporting of USA Today, one of them by Lindsay Schnell, and the headline is this: “As women athletes compete later into their lives, family planning and fertility take center stage.” Now, this one is not first and foremost about abortion, but it is about human reproduction and it is incredibly revealing. Schnell tells us about female athletes who due to their athletic careers and their training and their performance, they are putting off having babies. They’re putting off having children. And it turns out that they’re putting off having children in such a way that, well, there’s no surprise here, they are endangering their ability to have children.

Now, a medical doctor is likely to tell you that the most likely period for a woman to become successfully pregnant and to bear a pregnancy to term is in the twenties and thirties. Basically, that is the golden era for pregnancy to take place and for women to successfully deliver babies. Now, there are women who have delivered babies quite successfully under age 20 and over age 39, but the fact is that the golden period for reproduction is right in that just about 20-year period. And furthermore, it is just a medical reality that that’s tilted towards the earlier part of that period.

But the big issue in worldview analysis I want to bring to this particular article in USA Today is what’s implicit in the article, and that is that sports would be far more important than the endeavor of, say, having a child. Now, marriage isn’t even referenced here, but just having a child. But the entire point of this article is that women athletes are now competing later into their lives, which complicates the possibility of a reproductive future. Now, this would mean professional athletes, but also non-professional athletes such as Olympic athletes.

But the point is, the question of children comes up too late for some of these women athletes, and then the issue is, well, what could be done about this? This is where it turns out that fertility treatments, reproductive technological treatments, are very much the point of the story, but they’re also extremely inefficient in some cases and extremely expensive in almost all cases. This is presented by USA Today as an equity issue. In fact, one of the subheads simply states, “Fertility is 100% a pay equity issue.” And the article goes on to say, “Fertility treatments often set women back tens of thousands of dollars, a price tag that cuts deep when you consider the paltry salaries and considerably smaller endorsement deals professional female athletes get compared to their male counterparts.” One of the athletes said, “This is 100% a pay equity issue.”

But the implication of this article is that the smart thing to do here is for women to freeze eggs or embryos for future transplantation, IVF technology. Now, I have written extensively about the worldview, the moral complications when it comes to IVF technology, but in this case, none of that is simply addressed. It is instead just a matter of saying, look, here’s a technology, and the only real barrier here is the fact that some women don’t give it enough attention, and of course it is also extremely expensive.

But by the time the article ends, well, we’re on new terrain, because by the time the article ends, there’s an open discussion about the fact that some female athletes are only going to be able to have children, and put “have children” in quotation marks, by not actually having them themselves. And so it’s not just IVF technology that’s referenced here, but surrogate motherhood, surrogate parenting. One agent for female athletes told USA Today Sports “that some of her other clients have used the WNBA’s fertility money for freezing, surrogacy, and embryo transfers.”

Now, my point here is not about the rightness or wrongness of women in any arena of sports. That’s not the point of this conversation. My point is that something’s basically wrong in the entire set of cultural priorities, not just at the individual level, but at the social level, when all of a sudden it becomes at least sane in one perspective represented in this article in USA Today Sports for a woman to simply say, “My sports or athletics career, my athletic life is just without any concern far more important than having children, to the extent that it becomes an equity issue with men.” And I’m simply going to remind you that that was key to the argument for abortion itself in the 1960s and the 1970s, and it continues today.

But if you go back to the ’60s and the ’70s, you will see that the feminists who were then early on arguing for abortion rights were making the case that only abortion could allow equity or equality, the word they used more often, arguing that a woman would not be free until she was free to be just as un-pregnant as a man. My goodness. I can’t imagine going back to explain that to Adam and Eve.

Part III

‘If You Played at a Top 10 University, You Didn't Have Babies’: USA Today Contends Abortion is Key to Women’s Success in Collegiate Sports — But What’s Really Going On Here?

But if you thought that USA Today probably couldn’t top that article in short order, you would be wrong, because over the weekend, USA Today Sports ran a front page article in print with the headline, “Colleges, coaches face post-Roe uncertainty.” The subhead, “Patchwork laws and outdated guidelines offer no clarity for athletes.” Nancy Armour, very liberal writer for USA Today Sports, Lindsay Schnell, the same reporter who wrote the previous article, and Steve Berkowitz combined in this article. And they come to the University of Kentucky, actually, and a female athlete, and they raise the fact that women in athletics, particularly in college athletics, are now uniquely vulnerable, because if abortion is not legal in the state, it’s not legal in the State at Kentucky, then you could have a real conflict with women’s sports and the ability of women to continue in sports.

Now, looking at this article, and it’s a massive article, the continuation of the article is one full dense page of print on an internal page, the reality is, it raises the huge question, just how many abortions are being done when it comes to women in collegiate athletics? What’s really the story here? Because if it’s not that many, then it doesn’t deserve this kind of coverage, but if it deserves this kind of coverage, you have to wonder just how many abortions are actually taking place in the name of women’s collegiate athletics or a women’s right to choose, in this case to choose athletics over a baby or not having a baby to complicate life.

The report in USA Today Sports tells us, “Two-thirds of the 38 schools in the SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 are in states with near total abortion bans or ones where lawmakers are pushing for them. Women in states such as Indiana or Missouri will be able to go across their borders to Illinois or Kansas, but athletes in the Deep South will be hundreds of miles, possibly more than 1,000 miles, away from the closest abortion clinic.” The tie between abortion and at least elite college women’s athletics was made clear in one statement in USA Today by a woman identified as “a former volleyball All-American.” She said, “If you played at a top 10 university, you didn’t have babies, you won championships.” She went on to conclude, “Think about that.”

The article in USA Today goes on and says, “There are other big issues, including the right to privacy. There are other issues related to college policy and to political pressure coming from states.” Several people in the article said they didn’t want to be quoted, simply because they didn’t want to be publicly associated with the question. And USA Today goes on and reports this: “At a basketball tournament in Chicago in July, one coach at a Power Five school physically backed away when asked about Dobbs.” That’s the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe. “Coaches of some top women’s volleyball teams, defending national champion Wisconsin, number two Nebraska, number four Minnesota, and number 13 Florida, declined to comment, as did Keegan Cook, coach of number 14 Washington and President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Also declining to comment was the CEO of the group known as Women Leaders in College Sports.”

But as you’re thinking about collegiate athletics, the big worldview issue here of course has to do with someone missing from this article, absolutely missing, not even acknowledged in this article, and that is the unborn child. Now, that unborn child is simply not considered in this context, in this report, even a morally significant factor. In fact, abortion’s not presented as a morally significant issue. The assumption here is that a woman has to have a right to abortion, and that includes female athletes at the intercollegiate level. Otherwise, they simply can’t have true equity, which is the current demand. And furthermore, the implication is, that could well violate the Title IX rules, guidelines, stipulations, and policies that are established by the federal government.

But here you also have the fact that state by state the picture is quite different. And you’re also looking at the fact that it is not a simple matter of something like the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body, just deciding, we are going to come down very clear on this issue, and the states that are out of line are going to be out of luck. One of the reasons for that, by the way, or at least an ironic fact about that, is that the headquarters for the NCAA is in the State of Indiana, which has a very solid restriction on abortion.

Again, I had to come back to what I said earlier. The really haunting question in all of this is just how many abortions are being done on female collegiate athletes. Now, those who hold to the pro-abortion position would say that is just none of your business. It’s none of your concern. But evidently it is at least an issue significant enough that it’s worth this level of concern by USA Today Sports. Again, front page of the section, entire dense print page inside.

Finally, as we bring everything to a conclusion today, just remember that one reality that the Christian worldview underlines again and again is the interconnectedness of all dimensions of life. And where a society or a culture puts a particular emphasis and priority, well, you begin to see these issues very clearly. And where those interests and priorities and near obsessions collide, well, that’s how you end up with a story like this.

And that’s why the sports section at USA Today has become one of the most interesting barometers of the moral life of our nation, at least from the progressive side. They run an article like this this past weekend, and you look at it and you wonder how in the world could they possibly top that? But just wait a few days. They will.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).