Eleven years ago, when U.S. senators were in the midst of a fierce debate over partial-birth abortion, the proceedings were abruptly interrupted by a baby's cry.
I was there that day and will never forget that electrifying moment, a reminder of what we were fighting for: nothing less than the lives of innocent babies.
I thought of that baby's cry this past week when the Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It took thirty-four years to get from Roe v. Wade to the first significant prescription of so-called "abortion rights." It's a reminder that when it comes to eradicating social ills, we must never give up.
That lesson was taught to us more than two hundred years ago by the British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce, a man who fought another great social evil: slavery. Wilberforce knew what a fight it would be because the British Empire depended heavily on the slave trade. So he learned all about slavery and the conditions on the slave ships. And he and his allies organized government inquiries into the horrors of the slave trade, exposing them to a horrified public.
The first victory was a small one, but it proved that the slave industry was vulnerable. A vote in 1788 restricted the number of slaves that a ship could be allowed to carry based on the ship's tonnage.
For the next nineteen years, Wilberforce introduced bills banning the slave trade. Year after year, his opponents found ways to defeat them, often playing dirty. But after nearly two decades of hard work, in 1807, the House of Commons voted by an overwhelming majority to abolish the slave trade. It took another quarter century to abolish slavery outright.
Despite repeated losses, you see, Wilberforce kept working. By God's grace, he made incremental gains. He didn't demand all or nothing, but eventually he carried the day.
Like Wilberforce, pro-lifers are learning to seek small, incremental victories: parental notice; informed consent; the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act; and now, of course, the biggest yet: banning the barbaric form of abortion, crushing the skull of a baby inches from birth, which rightly sickened most Americans.
Christian conservatives have often over recent years despaired when they have lost a vote in Congress or an election. And many have said lately, "Why are we bothering with politics? We're not getting anything from these politicians we elect." Wrong.
Jim Dobson and I talked about this issue with President Bush when he was first elected. He stood strong, and we ought to all be grateful to him. Not only did he push this law, he also appointed nothing but strict constructionist judges, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, who cast the deciding vote this week.
Jim and I and others have worked hard to get those judges confirmed, and pro-life senators led the fight. I hope this decision by the Court will silence those who say we have gotten nothing for our efforts and cause us all to renew our commitment to continue the fight until, just like slavery, this abominable evil is ended in this country.
Never despair. It's a sin, because it denies the sovereignty of God.
From BreakPoint®, April 20, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries