Mark Steyn reviews Amazing Grace (the book, not the movie, although he discusses both), about William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian who essentially laid the framework for ending slavery. (After a sudden and dramatic religious conversion, but of course we must all keep religion out of politics these days, right?) The quote all of us who hope for a more humane future should remember:
[T]he life of William Wilberforce and the bicentennial of his extraordinary achievement remind us that great men don’t shirk things because the focus-group numbers look unpromising.
But the theme of the book is that Wilberforce accomplished more than a change to British laws, he transformed the culture of the western world to the point that, albeit it after several painful convulsions, no civilized person found the idea of slave-owning acceptable, or even palatable. The parallel between slavery and abortion isn’t perfect, although heaven knows it’s been belaboured enough already. But it does illustrate how changing minds is more important than changing laws. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, slavery is nominally illegal but in practice common. In Canada, the US and western Europe, though, I would venture to say that even if there were no laws against slavery, common decency would prevent it from occurring; we are hardly, after all, nations of people who quietly wish we could own slaves and chafe at the laws that forbid us from doing so.
Would that we see the day when it isn’t a law against abortion that stops people from seeking one, but a deep-seated repugnance, and a profound recognition of the barbarism of the practice. Who, I wonder, will be the William Wilberforce of the pro-life movement?
Andrea asks: Anyone got the focus group numbers for the pro-life cause in Canada?