- - Friday, January 31, 2014

I’m a conservative. I’m pro-life. I’m a Southern Baptist. I don’t live in Texas.

So you’d think that I’d be upset about the gubernatorial candidacy of Wendy Davis, the famous, pink-wearing state senator from the Lone Star State.

After all, she’s extremely liberal, she’s massaged parts of her personal biography, and she’s made clumsy attacks on her opponent, the wheelchair-bound attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott. This is not exactly the type of candidate whose candidacy I applaud.

Still, I’m glad Ms. Davis is running for governor of Texas. Why? Because, thanks to her 11-hour filibuster on the floor of the Texas Senate last year and her subsequent coronation as a left-wing heroine, America is about to have a national conversation about the gruesome, inhumane, un-American procedure she fought so valiantly to keep legal and restriction-free.

Filibusters are an exercise in American activism. As a child, I remember the inspiration I felt while watching the grainy, black-and-white images of Jimmy Stewart as a naive senator in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Recently, we’ve seen the rise of the filibuster as a means of driving the conversation. Last year, Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz tested their stamina (and our patience) while championing causes they believe in. It’s a tool our constitutional government gives to the minority party.

I’m thankful for the filibuster. Anyone who has the fortitude to stand for that long in one place deserves some credit. No lesser reward should go to the one who listens all those hours, enduring endless political talking points and, at the end of most, blathering nonsense.

Let’s not be confused, though, about what the #standwithwendy groundswell represents. Ms. Davis stood for 11 hours and is running for governor of our second-most populous state to protect the right to kill babies in the womb more than 20 weeks old.

This is well after a baby’s heart begins to beat; the organs, nerves and cells are fully functioning; sexual organs begin to form; and the baby may begin to feel pain.

Let that sink in for a minute. This is the catalyst for the pink sneakers and the Twitter love from feminists and liberals. The candidacy of this state senator from Fort Worth is built on the notion that it’s good to end the life of babies even after the fifth month of pregnancy.

The bill, up for debate in the Texas Legislature, later passed and signed into law, would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, enforce health guidelines on women’s clinics and would require an abortion-performing doctor to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital.

This was not some draconian measure, but legislation keeping up with public opinion, which by an overwhelming majority favors a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. What’s more, it protects women’s health by ensuring that abortion providers are held up to the same standards as other health care providers.

It also allows a baby who survives an abortion to have a chance at life by ensuring a doctor can quickly access the services of a hospital.

Ms. Davis’ filibuster might have been a stand for principle, but was it courageous? Have we made such an idol of personal autonomy that we’re willing to sacrifice the preciousness of human life in the womb, even human life older than five months?

I’m old enough to remember when liberal Democrats acknowledged abortion as a “tragic choice” and something to keep “safe, legal and rare.”

Liberals like to talk about common ground, about keeping abortion legal, but working to reduce the number. This seems disingenuous when a politician like Ms. Davis is lionized as a hero by the left for opposing legislation proven to reduce the number of abortions. Not to mention the new mayor of New York’s commitment to shutting down the very life-giving clinics designed to encourage young women toward options other than abortions.

I find it troubling that the liberal movement, so motivated by protecting the downtrodden minority, is such a willing participant in the slaughter of those who can’t defend themselves; namely, the unborn. This is particularly troubling in the wake of the murder conviction of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

As one who believes each life, born and unborn, bears the image of God, I welcome the candidacy of Ms. Davis for governor of Texas. I say to my fellow Americans, let’s have this conversation. Let’s bring to light what really happens in the dark rooms of abortion providers around the country.

I have a feeling that the people of Texas will speak loudly for the majority in celebrating a culture of life.

This, I believe, is a cause worth standing for.

Daniel Darling is vice president for communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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