On a hot, sunny day in late June, David Hill visited his mother in a nursing home.

 

He had some great news.

 

“I’m not sure how much she could comprehend, being an Alzheimer’s patient, but she did live to see the day,” Hill, Tennessee Bible College president, said.

 

The significance of that “day”—June 24, 2022—was that more babies would live to see another special day.

 

Their birthday.

 

That “day” also meant that the work of Billie Hill, founding president of Putnam County Right to Life, made a difference in a war against the unborn that had waged nearly half a century.

 

“I must say that I’d lost hope of seeing Roe v. Wade stuck down, so it was a wonderful surprise and somewhat unbelievable to me,” Hill said of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned what had been deemed a constitutional right to abortion since Jan. 22, 1973.

 

Hill was just a boy at the time of the original decision, unable to comprehend the enormity of what it meant. Later, as he learned more, he wondered, “What could bring a woman to the place of taking the life of her unborn child?”

 

He recalled that his mother became an activist immediately after the decision. 

 

“Until 1973, her life was a keeper at home as God instructs, but she was so hurt and offended by the court’s ruling that she began to educate herself on the issues. She networked with other Christian ladies across the state and began to accept public speaking and teaching opportunities to educate others on abortion and why we must choose life.”

Billie’s advocacy led to the founding of Putnam County Right to Life, an organization dedicated to protecting and defending the fundamental right to life of human beings from conception to natural death.

 

Hill remembers his mother working in Nashville with the late Tottie Ellis, a political activist who campaigned nationally against the Equal Rights Amendment, in Texas with well-known author Lottie Beth Hobbs, and others.

 

“They were active in Nashville with legislators and went on many trips to Washington, D.C., trying to get this immoral decree—not legislation—of the high court rescinded,” Hill said.

Lois Irby, secretary at TBC, also recalled the early days of the pro-life movement.

“Prior to all the discussion in 1973, I knew practically nothing about abortion,” she said. “Much of the public seemed to think since it was ‘only a blob of tissue’ and as a matter of convenience for the mother, this law was very timely in the age of enlightenment and freer thinking.”

Irby joined Putnam County Right to Life in 2008, served as its secretary for several years and then was its president in 2013 and 2014. She also helped coordinate the annual Life Chain as well as a booth at the Putnam County Fair.

“We always had on hand the life-size models of fetuses in each trimester for the fairgoers to see and were quite surprised how many people were totally unaware of the size, weight and appearance of the baby at each particular stage of development,” she said.  

In 2014, when the Yes on 1 campaign was at the forefront of the pro-life movement in Tennessee, Irby spoke at various meetings and congregations in Putnam County regarding the upcoming vote. 

“I’ve personally kept on hand the little baby feet pins to give people to wear, reminding others of the sanctity of life,” she said.

Irby, like Hill and so many others, was amazed at the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

“I personally thought never in my lifetime would we see this occur, and along with many others, tears of joy and thanksgiving were shed at hearing this remarkable event,” she said.

Kerry Duke, TBC vice president, noted the “staggering death toll” since 1973—more than 63 million aborted children.

“By the grace of God and the persistence of pro-life advocates, the fatal decision of the Supreme Court on this issue came to an end,” he said.

“We must continue to teach biblical truths on this subject: life begins at conception, taking the life of an unborn child is murder, and sex outside of marriage is sinful. This last issue is where Christians need to step up and be heard. Surveys reveal that over 80 percent of women who have abortions are not married. If we are going to address the problem of abortion, we will have to double down on why women have these ‘unwanted pregnancies’ to begin with.”

 

This, Duke said, is something Congress and the Supreme Court cannot do.

 

“And we must keep in mind that women will still be able to have abortions in other states just as they did before Roe v. Wade,” he said. “But this is definitely a moral and cultural victory and a statement to the rest of the world.”

-Amy Davis, TBC Correspondent

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