When nurse Brenda Pratt Shafer assisted in three partial-birth abortions at the Women's Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio on September 30, 1993, she considered herself strongly prochoice.

During one procedure, the doctor grabbed the legs of a 26-week-old baby boy with Down syndrome. Then the physician used a pair of scissors to poke a hole in the baby's skull, while he was still in the womb. The doctor inserted a tube into the child's head and sucked out his brain.

"She screamed for God to forgive her," Pratt Shafer said of the 22-year-old female patient. "I could not believe it."

Pratt Shafer and other prolife activists are hoping that the 108th Congress, which begins its work in January, will ban partial-birth abortion. The President has agreed to sign such a law, one of several key legislative goals Republicans believe they can reach after regaining control of the Senate and strengthening their grip on the House in the November elections.

'Obstacles remain'

But conservative Christian leaders concede that legislative progress on their social agenda is likely to be slow. "Instead of a Bastille mentality, it's more of an incremental approach," said Rich Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals. "We're not going to be passing a school prayer amendment."

Former Moral Majority insider Cal Thomas said this is no time for Christians to withdraw from politics, as long as they do not see political power as their ultimate goal. "I think when you have political power, you should advance your agenda," Thomas told Christianity Today. "Certainly the Left does."

(In their 1999 book Blinded by Might, Thomas and Ed Dobson criticized the Christian Right's emphasis on politics as the best means to ...

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