Together with millions across the globe we watched the funeral of President Ronald Reagan and were touched by the pageantry, eulogies, music, and even humor that came from those who knew him best. Now, as a tribute to the Great Communicator I re-read his unusual book published in 1984, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, first published by J. P. McFadden in the Human Life Review. In book form it has comments by C. Everett Koop and Malcolm Muggeridge.
Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation
Here are Reagan’s words:
Our nationwide policy of abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy was neither voted for by our people nor enacted by our legislators not a single state had such unrestricted abortion before the Supreme Court decreed it to be national policy in 1973. . . . Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. . . .
[T]he Court’s decision so far has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation. . . We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life — the unborn — without diminishing the value of all human life. . . . Mother Teresa has said that the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children. . . .
This is not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was not overturned in a day, or a year, or even a decade, [but] we know that respect for the sacred value of human life is too deeply ingrained in the hearts of our people to remain forever suppressed. . . .
Who is the patient if not that tiny unborn human being who can feel pain when he or she is approached by doctors who come to kill rather than to cure? . . .
The real question today is what is the value of human life. Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value.
Abortion Is Un-American
Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Reagan reminds us that the framers of the Declaration of Independence spoke of God’s creatures and “their children and their children’s children, and the countless myraids who should inhabit the earth in other ages.” Reagan supported the Human Life Act introduce in 1981 to protect innocent life before birth, sponsored by Henry Hyde and Roger Jepsen. He also supported a Human Life Amendment. Reagan adds:
We must all educate ourselves to the reality of the horrors taking place [in abortion]: . . . pain . . . burnt skin . . . agonizing death that can last for hours. . . . The time to stop is now. . . . The sanctity of innocent human life is a principle that Congress should proclaim at every opportunity. . . .
As we work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps . . . at great personal sacrifice . . . to provide for unwed mothers.
Quoting a young mother, Reagan writes, “In this society we save whales, timber wolves and bald eagles, but everyone wanted me to throw away my baby.” He quotes Mother Teresa: “If you don’t want the little child, that unborn child, give him to me.”
Reagan Calls for Prayer and Action
Prayer and action are needed to uphold the sanctity of human life. I believe it will not be possible to accomplish our work of saving lives without being a soul of prayer. We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others. . .
We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion. . . There is no cause more important for preserving freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, a right without which no other rights have any meaning.
That was President Ronald Reagan. God rest his great soul.