Zell Miller's March to Life

“I watched the demonstrators as they came to Washington, and the advocates for life, and the number of 42 million human beings having been killed because of Roe vs. Wade,” Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia told me last week in an interview, “and it just grabbed hold of me very strongly that what if one of my four great-grandchildren or four grandchildren had been one of those that never did get to enjoy the life that they have now.”

I asked: “So, now you’ve actually come all the way around to the opinion that you would like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned, and you would like to see unborn children protected in law in this country?”

“That’s exactly right,” said Miller. “I’ve come to feel very strongly about that.”

In his best-selling book, A National Party No More-The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, Miller dedicates a chapter (entitled “Abortion and a God Above”) to describing his conversion from a pro-choice Democrat who supported Roe vs. Wade, to a pro-life Democrat who doesn’t. Many sources influenced his thinking. They range from the birth of his great-grandchildren, to Sean Hannity’s apt comparison of Roe to Dred Scott, to Newsweek‘s cover of an unborn child, to two female college students who challenged him on the right-to-life, to signs carried by some women in the March for Life.

“The most poignant sight for me at this year’s annual pro-life march and demonstration in Washington, D.C.,” wrote Miller, “was the large number of women holding signs saying they regretted their abortions.”

Unlike some pessimists who argue that abortion is a settled issue, Miller, a former history professor, brings a positive perspective to the cause. “Just as Dred Scott was overturned, I believe Roe vs. Wade someday will also be rejected,” he writes.

His optimism reminds me of a concept I learned in college Shakespeare lectures. It is called discordia concors: To mirror nature, art must show how order inevitably emerges from chaos. The perceptible rational design of God’s creation is the inalterable template against which all works of music, literature and public policy must be judged. It is the natural law, which St. Paul said is written on every heart, and which America embraced as our founding creed in the Declaration of Independence. Any human law that acts against this divine law cannot be deemed right any more than caterwauling can be deemed a symphony.

Just as sound without design is mere noise, a story of human suffering without moral resolution would be, well, a tale signifying nothing. Shakespeare ends even his most bitter tragedies by pointing the way back to moral and civic order. The weak and vacillating Hamlet gives way to the strong and steady Fortinbras. Things will be rotten in Denmark no more.

Zell Miller is no Hamlet. Ask him a straight question, and he gives you a straight answer. I asked if he believed that by continuing the debate on abortion in America “more Democrats such as yourself can be converted and that in the end we can actually overturn Roe vs. Wade and return to being a pro-life country?”

“I think without any question it ought to continue to be debated,” he said, “because I think there are more and more people out there hopefully like I am who are troubled by the way that it is now. And I think the more discussion, the more troubled they may become, until they finally come to the same conclusion that I came to.”

In his book, Miller noted a “national trend” toward the pro-life position. “Support for abortion rights,” he wrote, “has steadily dropped for a decade from 67% in the early 1990s to 54% in 2003.” He concludes: “I think the reason this is happening is that the debate has shifted from the right of the woman to the right of the baby.”

Pro-lifers take heed. Raise your signs high, and march on. The Supreme Court cannot declare dissonance a song, nor make human hearts embrace the killing of unborn children. There will be a happy ending: the chaos let loose by Roe will give way to restored justice.

Zell Miller, a Democrat, has bravely pointed the way.