As president, Ronald Reagan viewed the defense of innocent life as an urgent matter for the nation as well as for individuals. Here are several excerpts from his 1983 essay, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation:
Human life has intrinsic value:
The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law — the same right we have.No life for the unfit:
What more dramatic confirmation could we have of the real issue than the Baby Doe case in Bloomington, Indiana? The death of that tiny infant tore at the hearts of all Americans because the child was undeniably a live human being — one lying helpless before the eyes of the doctors and the eyes of the nation. The real issue for the courts was not whether Baby Doe was a human being. The real issue was whether to protect the life of a human being who had Down's Syndrome, who would probably be mentally handicapped, but who needed a routine surgical procedure to unblock his esophagus and allow him to eat. A doctor testified to the presiding judge that, even with his physical problem corrected, Baby Doe would have a "non-existent" possibility for "a minimally adequate quality of life" — in other words, that retardation was the equivalent of a crime deserving the death penalty. The judge let Baby Doe starve and die, and the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned his decision.Infanticide:
Federal law does not allow federally-assisted hospitals to decide that Down's Syndrome infants are not worth treating, much less to decide to starve them to death. Accordingly, I have directed the Departments of Justice and HHS to apply civil rights regulations to protect handicapped newborns. All hospitals receiving federal funds must post notices which will clearly state that failure to feed handicapped babies is prohibited by federal law. The basic issue is whether to value and protect the lives of the handicapped, whether to recognize the sanctity of human life. This is the same basic issue that underlies the question of abortion.
Another example: two years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a Sunday special supplement on "The Dreaded Complication." The "dreaded complication" referred to in the article — the complication feared by doctors who perform abortions — is the survival of the child despite all the painful attacks during the abortion procedure. Some unborn children do survive the late-term abortions the Supreme Court has made legal. Is there any question that these victims of abortion deserve our attention and protection? Is there any question that those who don't survive were living human beings before they were killed?America's survival:
Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide. The time to stop both is now. As my Administration acts to stop infanticide, we will be fully aware of the real issue that underlies the death of babies before and soon after birth.
Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning. [emphasis added]He wrote that almost thirty years ago. The message is even more urgent today. Experience has confirmed that all human life is cheapened by abortion. If a baby's life is worthless, so is his mother's. That's one of the lessons taught by Kermit Gosnell. He and his staff treated women, girls, infants, and unborn alike with inhuman brutality. And they got away with it for decades; the authorities who could have stopped Gosnell didn't deem his victims worthy of protection.
Gosnell has also proven beyond doubt the accuracy of Reagan's observation that infanticide "flows inevitably from permissive abortion as another step in the denial of the inviolability of innocent human life." We are seeing this truth play out before our eyes.
The editors at National Review note that Reagan wrote his piece without solicitation. His belief in the sanctity of human life was genuine and deeply felt. Compare and contrast that with the views of our current president. Click here for Illinois state senator Obama's cold-blooded arguments against protecting aborted-alive babies, here for candidate Obama's "punished with a baby or an STD" statement, and here for his extensive pro-abortion record as president.
Looking ahead, I will have a hard time supporting a presidential candidate who calls for putting this issue on hold. That suggests, to me, a basic misunderstanding of what's really at stake. Mitch Daniels:
I would like to think that fixing it and saving our kids future could be a unifying moment for our country and we wouldn’t stop our disagreements or our passionate belief in these other questions, we just sort of mute them for a little while, while we try to come together on the thing that menaces us all.Abortion is the menace that is literally destroying our kids' futures in alarming numbers every day. Reagan never "muted" this issue.
Related: A multitude of Reagan tributes, here.
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