Senator's change of heart: from pro-choice to pro-life
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Democrat Sen. Zell Miller sees parallels between Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, and Dred Scott v. Sandford, the decision that said slaves had no rights.
Miller hasn't always felt that way. He was once pro-choice.
The Georgia senator's move from the pro-choice to pro-life cause is recounted in his book, "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat," published by Stroud & Hall.
Miller spends much of the book criticizing the Democratic Party for what he sees as a drift to the left that has ended the party's appeal to Southerners.
But Miller, who is retiring next year, also describes how his position on abortion began to change in the 1990s when his great-grandchildren were born.
"I believe the thinking of many Americans is changing on this subject," he writes. "New science and technology can now show the heart of the unborn baby beating in the mother's womb. I saw it on the front page of Newsweek, no less. I remember my grandson, only twenty, carrying a sonogram around to show off his yet unborn, but so alive daughter. It gave new meaning to the old Roberta Flack song 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.'
"I know it is wrong to take these lives. For me it is no longer a political issue but a moral one, as it should have been from the beginning. I hope someday Roe v. Wade will be reversed."
There was a time, Miller writes, when he answered questions about abortion by saying, "Leave it to the woman, her God, and her doctor." Even when he was governor of Georgia in the 1990s, he considered himself pro-choice, with a few exceptions. He believed minors should receive parental consent before obtaining an abortion and he opposed using public funding for abortions.
"Then, as governor, I signed a state law in 1997 outlawing the terrible procedure of partial-birth abortion," he writes. "Still, I stuck with my position of supporting abortion, but with all these qualifications."
He dates his transformation on the issue back nine years, when his great-grandchildren were being born.
"I began to seriously wrestle with where I was on the real question," he writes. "I began to pray earnestly for God's guidance."
Reflecting on a Christmas spent with his great-grandchildren, Miller writes, "I know how richly blessed we are that they were not four of the 42 million who have been aborted over the past thirty years, that they are alive, a fifth generation to celebrate Christmas in that old house."
Miller says he agrees with conservative Sean Hannity's comparison of Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott decision. Miller sees one striking parallel.
"The elite, arrogant plantation owner believed his own self-interest to be more important than the slaves' self-interest," Miller writes. "A woman who favors abortion believes her self-interest comes before the unborn's self-interest. In each case, the judgment is a moral one, made deliberately. What could be more arrogant than to believe one has the right to designate a life not worth living?"
The most inconsistent position, Miller argues, is taken by those who are for abortion but against the death penalty.
"It seems strange they shed tears for someone who has been found guilty of having committee heinous crimes, but cannot find equal compassion for an innocent infant who has hurt no one," he writes.
Miller, who says he does not believe an abortion litmus test should exist for judicial nominees, says he believes Americans will reject Roe v. Wade someday. He points to polls showing both a decrease in support for abortion rights and an increase in the number of young people who are pro-life.
"Ultrasound technology has proved the unborn baby is human, and abortion has become the moral and ethical issue my mother -- that strong woman -- always maintained it was."
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