Thursday, May 2, 2013

Abolition and Abortion

William Wilberforce
I've been reading Eric Metaxas' masterful biography of William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace.  Wilberforce was the late 18th century/early 19th century British Member of Parliament who almost single-handedly brought an end to the British slave trade.  As a Christian MP, he devoted his life to this cause, and pursued it doggedly for almost twenty years until the abolition of the pernicious trade in 1807.  During those years, he actually feared for his life on a number of occasions  as those who opposed him and other abolitionists would go to no end to defend something that was actually indefensible.  Wilberforce and others courageously exposed the evils of the slave trade year after year.  They shined a light before the British public on the stomach-crawling conditions that the Africans were subjected to on the Middle Passage between Africa and the West Indies, as well as the horrific conditions that West Indian slaves were subjected to which actually made American slavery seem tame in comparison.

As I was reading the section in this book detailing the heart-breaking condition of the slaves on these ships, I couldn't help but think of another heart-wrenching situation that I've recently become acquainted with.  Like most people, I barely paid attention until recently of the accounts of the sadistic Philadelphia abortion clinic led by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  His trial had actually been going on for some weeks before I read the courageous article in USA Today written by Kirsten Powers, which shamed the national media into covering a trial which should have been front page news.  The sickening fact is that in all likelihood hundreds of babies have been butchered outside the mother's womb in this clinic by "snipping" their spinal cords, which almost beheads the innocent children.  Other details that I've read are so sickening that I won't describe them here, but suffice it to say that it was a House of Horrors that had been allowed to flourish in Pennsylvania unregulated for well over a decade.   Since then, we've come to see more and more that the late-term abortions which pro-abortion forces want to convince us are exceedingly rare are not rare at all, and that infanticide is much more common than we dare imagined.

I see multiple parallels between the British abolition movement around the turn of the 19th century, the American abolition movement later in the 19th century, and the current pro-life movement:.
  • Both the British and American abolition movements and the current pro-life movement were and are led by persons deeply committed to their Christian faith.  Movement leaders such as William Wilberforce, American Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, and current Pro-life leader Lila Rose, are informed by the Christian commitment to "Love your neighbor as yourself."  In each case, these zealots would go to any ethical end to bring to light the horrid practices they opposed.
  • In each of these movements, effective use of current media was an influential tool in bringing to light injustice.  British abolitionists effectively used a chart (as shown on the right) which they had located
    on a slave ship to illustrate that even the legal number of slaves housed on a ship was
    Diagram Of A Slave Ship
     inhumane.  American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison used print media as editor of the highly-influential newspaper "The Liberator" to further the cause of emancipation.  Today, Lila Rose of Live Action, which styles itself as "a new media movement dedicated to ending abortion and building a culture of life", has brought to life the inhuman practices of abortion clinics through it's effective use of hidden camera videos.  (Follow this link to a video of  an abortion doctor who glibly admits that they would not help a baby born alive from a botched abortion or this link to an a video of an abortion worker who advises a client to "flush it!" ).  
  • In each case, those opposing the act of brutality, whether it be the slave trade, American slavery, or the killing of unborn (or even already born) children were at one time considered "out of the mainstream" (to use a modern phrase) of public opinion.  However, over time, as movement organizers shed light on the barbaric practices they opposed, they eventually gained majority support. In the case of today's pro-life movement, the pendulum is certainly swinging toward majority support, despite the fact that the national media is overwhelmingly pro-abortion. I believe as people are exposed more and more to the horrors of abortion facilities that Gosnell represents, that the pro-life argument will eventually carry the day.
In an 1813 before the British House of Commons, years after he had won the battle for abolition of the slave trade, William Wilberforce made these comments:

Christianity, he said, “assumes her true character… when she takes under her protection those poor degraded beings on whom philosophy looks down with disdain or perhaps with contemptuous condescension…. It was declared by its great Author as ‘Glad tidings to the poor,’ and… still delights… to succour the needy, to comfort the sorrowful, to visit the forsaken.”
Today's fight for the defenseless unborn who are being murdered every day echoes the fight of two centuries ago for the defenseless Africans who were then being enslaved and brutalized.  Whether the cause is abolition of slavery or abolition of abortion, the struggle today remains the same.

Want to read more?  Here's links to some of my more popular posts:
Reflections On 30 Years of Marriage-Part 1
My Take On "The Bible" Series
Things My Mom Taught Me 
A Colossal Failure 

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