This was quite a week for pro-lifers, who are used to suffering setbacks at the hands of legislatures and courts.

On the same day, the Florida legislature passed a bill empowering Gov. Jeb Bush (search) to grant the equivalent of a stay of execution to an invalid woman who suffered brain damage a decade ago when her heart stopped for 10 minutes. And the Senate passed and sent to President Bush a bill banning a procedure that kills a baby as it emerges from the womb by sucking out its brains. Not incidentally, quite a few pro-choice Democrats in the House and Senate voted to ban this gruesome practice.

In the Florida case, the parents of Terri Schiavo (search) wanted her to live. Her husband wanted her to die, saying that's what she would want, though she had no legal documents indicating her intentions. Hard cases make for bad law.

Great inhumanities are often ushered in over difficult cases. Roe vs. Wade (search) was about a woman who claimed she had been raped and became pregnant. The woman, Norma McCorvey (search), later recanted some of the facts in that case and is now pro-life, urging women with problem pregnancies to get help, not abortions.

Circumstances can change if people don't play God. In the partial birth abortion matter, even the pro-choice American Medical Association says there is no medical necessity for the procedure. And the health exception some want in the measure is a legal loophole large enough to allow the killing of the baby for any reason.

The first obligation of government is to protect life. In our pursuit of pleasure and comfort we have gotten away from that. What happened to Thomas Jefferson's acknowledgment that we have an inalienable right to life, which is not granted by government, but "endowed by our Creator?"

The Florida case and the partial birth abortion bill, which President Bush says he will sign, are small efforts to reverse what Pope John Paul II has rightly called "the culture of death." There will be more court challenges, but for the sake of the unborn — 40 million of whom have perished since Roe vs. Wade — and the handicapped, let's hope that a new culture of life emerges from the ashes we have created.

And that's Column One for this week.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.