Never Give Up: Banning (Finally) Partial-Birth Abortion

Chuck Colson

11/6/2003 12:00:00 AM - Chuck Colson

Yesterday, Jim Dobson, Don Hodel, Mike Farris, Tony Perkins, and I met with President Bush in the Oval Office just before he signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. We had a wonderful conversation, celebrating one of the most significant days of his presidency and a great day for all who believe in the sanctity of life.

The president talked freely about his faith and how committed he is to the cause of defending human life.

I remarked to the president that the partial-birth abortion ban is simply part of a pattern that we’ve seen under his leadership. First, there was the legislation to stop sex trafficking; then the Prison Rape Elimination Act; then his efforts to stop slavery and genocide of Christians in the Sudan, an issue that may very soon have a successful outcome; and then, of course, the campaign to help AIDS victims in Africa and to promote abstinence; and the defunding of international agencies that promote abortion. We talked about how all of these things spring from a truth central to a Christian worldview: the dignity and value of every human being.

I told the president that this was the pattern followed by William Wilberforce, a conservative member of Parliament and a Christian. In the eighteenth century, he fought for twenty years to abolish slavery, the great abomination of his day, and as a result of that, a great spiritual awakening swept England. It is interesting that all through history conservatives with Christian consciences have done the great works that liberals only talk about.

This president has a deep concern for those in the margins of society—the helpless, “the least of these,” whom Jesus cares so much about. After the meeting, we took the motorcade over to the Ronald Reagan Building where the president signed the bill before 400 people, including, it seemed, half the Congress. There was a great sustained applause as the president talked about his administration’s commitment to life. Though this law will draw lawsuits, he said, “the executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts.”

When earlier, we had been sitting in the Oval Office, with the light streaming in from the Rose Garden, my mind wandered back to two previous occasions when, rather than seeing a partial-birth abortion ban signed, Jim Dobson and I, accompanied by Cardinal Bevilacqua and once Cardinal O’Connor, went all over Capitol Hill, trying to win enough votes to override President Clinton’s two vetoes of similar bans.

On one occasion, after the vote was cast, Jim and I were in the marble room just off the Senate floor, when we saw Kate Michelman and her pro-abortion lobbying team high-fiving one another. I thought to myself, what depths a society sinks to when people celebrate the killing of unborn children. Those were discouraging days, but like Wilberforce, we didn’t quit fighting.

Often Christians say the culture war is too much for us: We’re losing all the battles; we can’t win; maybe we should just give up and take care of our churches. No. No. No. Never despair. Never give up. It would have been tempting that dreary September afternoon in the marble room when we saw yet another defeat to just give up. But the movement kept pressing on. Now, finally Congress has passed a ban for the third time,  and—thank God—a president has the courage to sign it into law. The lesson? Don’t quit—truth wins in the end. Don’t retreat into our sanctuaries. Let’s do our duty and resolve to keep fighting until this dreadful villainy—taking innocent human lives—is eradicated.


For further reading and information:

President Bush Signs Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 ,” Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C., White House Office of the Press Secretary, 5 November 2003.

See White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s remarks on the signing at Wednesday’s press briefing.

View a description of the partial-birth abortion procedure , courtesy of the National Right to Life. (Warning: graphic sketches.)

Limited abortion ban fuels battle ,” MSNBC, 6 November 2003.

Judge Issues Abortion Law Injunction ,” FOX News, 5 November 2003.

Fred Barnes, “ How a Cause Was Born ,” Wall Street Journal, 6 November 2003.

The Daschle Abortion Ban ,” Wall Street Journal, 6 November 2003.

BreakPoint Commentary No. 021113, “Staying Power: Wilberforce, Slavery—and Abortion .” (Archived commentary; free registration required.)

BreakPoint Commentary No. 031103, “Mankind Is Our Business: Christians and Human Rights .”

Rachel M. MacNair, “The Nightmares of Choice ,” Touchstone, September 2003.

Mary Ann Glendon, “The Women of Roe v. Wade,” First Things, June/July 2003.

The BreakPoint Culture of Life Packet includes the Family Research Council booklet, “Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life,” and a “BreakPoint This Week” CD interview with William Saunders of Family Research Council in which he discusses what citizens can do to make a difference for life. The CD also includes a speech by Dr. Robert George, “Bioethics and the Clash of Orthodoxies.”

Call 1-877-3-CALLBP to receive a copy of “Right to Know: An Intellectually Honest Look at the Abortion Debate,” a booklet from Stand to Reason that provides the current abortion law for the United States and Canada, describes what the pro-life position is and why it is sound, discusses the four dishonest ways people argue for abortion, and provides great resources for further information for women who are in a crisis pregnancy.

Peter Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War (InterVarsity, 2002.)

Kevin Belmonte, Hero for Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce (NavPress, 2002).