What a pro-life president looks like

“More than a decade ago a Supreme Court decision literally wiped off the books of 50 states statutes that protect the rights of unborn children. Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to one-and-a-half million unborn children per year. Human life legislation ending this tragedy will someday pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does.”

– Ronald Reagan, March 8, 1983

“I know what I’m about to say is controversial, but I have to say it. This nation cannot continue turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the taking of some 4,000 unborn children’s lives every day. That’s one every 21 seconds … We cannot pretend that America is preserving her first and highest ideal – the belief that each life is sacred – when we’ve permitted the deaths of 15 million helpless innocents since the Roe vs. Wade decision.”

– Ronald Reagan, January 30, 1984

An unforgettable speech. Please listen.

The pro-life section of this speech begins at 5:00 and ends at 8:00.

Ronald Reagan’s pro-life tract: “Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation.”

President Reagan’s “Emancipation Proclamation for Unborn Children.” Beautiful!

Misrepresenting Reagan’s pro-life views.


7 thoughts on “What a pro-life president looks like

  1. Too many people don’t remember what it was like to have a sitting President who gave speeches like that, who wrote like that. I have squirmed with annoyance when people have said that George W. Bush was “more pro-life” than Ronald Reagan. Really? Really?

    Now, maybe they were basing this on some positional difference between the two of them that I don’t happen to know about, though AFAIK Reagan did _not_ think abortion should be legal, much less government funded, in cases of rape and incest. But I think it’s just some silly thing about Bush’s supposedly having appointed better justices than Reagan did. Granted, Reagan really struck out with O’Connor and Kennedy. (Or was Kennedy Bush, Sr.’s pick?) But I don’t think that was for lack of pro-life commitment. Let’s remember that at that time there was this idea that _neither_ side should ask nominees leading questions about their stances on particular types of cases that might come before them. And the Left only learned its power to spike people with Bork, after which the whole nomination process has gone steadily downhill.

    But Bush never says a word about the abortion issue. He never does. He doesn’t hold it up before the conscience of a nation. I’m not saying Bush has no convictions at all on the issue, but they are muted compared to Reagan’s.

    It’s good for you to remind us what Reagan was really like on this issue. And how they hated him for it, too.


  2. Worth noting here, as the SCOTUS decision keeps coming up, that both Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor were appointed by this pro-life President – a President who was willing to make the kind of statements you cited here.

    Contrast this to the potential judicial picks of John McCain, who said during the 2000 campaign, “I’d love to see a point where Roe vs. Wade is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

    The same McCain whom Robert Novak cited as not favoring the pick of Justice Alito, who himself was reported (by Joe Lieberman, now an endorser of McCain) to have said,
    “Roe was precedent on which people, a lot of people relied, that it had been precedent for decades and therefore deserves great respect.”

    There’s a lot to like about Palin, despite my published misgivings. But I don’t trust McCain on life issues half as much as I would have trusted Reagan, and Reagan’s choices for the bench joined the majority decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992, upholding Roe.


  3. But Steve — I heard just this morning on the radio that we will most definitely see the repeal of Roe v. Wade if McCain is elected president!

    OK, so it was a radio ad from the Obama campaign, complete with heart-rending plea to preserve the “right to choose” from the Mouth of Sanger … er, I mean, the Planned Parenthood spokeswymyn…


  4. I agree with you, Steve, about McCain. On Reagan’s appointees (please, don’t get me involved in a discussion about “judicial positivism”) if Reagan’s first pick for the Kennedy spot, Robert Bork, had been confirmed, Roe would be history long ago. I really think Reagan just did not realize at the time what lengths justices would go to uphold Roe. I think he believed these people (Kennedy and O’Connor) would have judicial integrity on the meaning of the Constitution.

    But I have cited McCain’s statement about Roe myself several times. The _best_ thing I can say about it is that now he openly says he supports the overturn of Roe. This puts the Roe situation one notch up from the ESCR situation, where he has never said, “I oppose all federal funding for ESCR,” which would at least contradict his avid earlier position. I suppose hoping for an _apology_, an “I was wrong” is far too much. But he can’t even bring himself to flip-flop on ESCR. The present stated position on Roe is a flip-flop. One can take that whichever way one likes. Myself, I don’t see McCain repenting of anything. He’s a politician to the bone.


  5. “Worth noting here, as the SCOTUS decision keeps coming up, that both Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor were appointed by this pro-life President – a President who was willing to make the kind of statements you cited here.”

    Please see Lydia’s remarks. The rules were different then. You probably don’t remember this, but there used to be an unwritten agreement that there would be no “litmus test” on specific cases when it came to Supreme Court appointments. The Democrats threw that out the window with their rejection of Robert Bork, who had published opinions on Roe that were used against him. After Bork, Reagan’s challenge was to find nominees who had never said or written anything substantive about Roe, since it was sure to be used against them in the hearings. So he had to go with relative unknowns who proved to be disappointments.

    Reagan was forced to work with a hostile Congress when it came to life issues. For better or worse, an American president is not a dictator who can overturn SCOTUS rulings by executive fiat. He did the best he could, and he used the presidential bully pulpit very effectively. I have no doubt that, if not for Reagan, the scourge of abortion would be much greater than it is today.


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