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Bush Announces National Sanctity of Human Life Day

Jan 17, 2003 10:57 AM EST

WASHINGTON - In commemorating the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of abortion, President Bush proclaimed Jan. 19 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day for 2003.

The influential Roe v. Wade case which struck down state prohibitions on abortions on Jan. 22, 1973 had opened doors to more than 40 million legal abortions throughout the last three decades.

Many religious and pro-life organizations will observe the president's proclamation for every child to "be welcomed in life and protected by law," by upholding the proposed Jan. 19 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Bush said that America would "continue to build a culture that respects life" through "ethical policies and the compassion of Americans."

"By working together to protect the weak, the imperfect and the unwanted, we affirm a culture of hope and help ensure a brighter future for all," Bush said.

His administration "has championed compassionate alternatives to abortion, such as helping women in crisis through maternity group homes, encouraging adoption, promoting abstinence education and passing laws requiring parental notification and waiting periods for minors," Bush said.

During his proclamation, the president cited the Born-alive Infants Protection Act, which he signed into law in August, as an important part of the effort to protect life. The measure, especially targeted at abortion methods which let newborns survived after surgery to die, clarified a newborn child fully outside his mother's womb as a person to be protected under federal law.

The following is the full text of President Bush's designation of Jan. 19 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day:

Our Nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfill their promise in our laws and our society. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we reaffirm the value of human life and renew our dedication to ensuring that every American has access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As we seek to improve quality of life, overcome illness, and promote vital medical research, my Administration will continue to honor our country's founding ideals of equal dignity and equal rights for every American. Every child is a priority and a blessing, and I believe that all should be welcomed in life and protected by law. My Administration has championed compassionate alternatives to abortion, such as helping women in crisis through maternity group homes, encouraging adoption, promoting abstinence education, and passing laws requiring parental notification and waiting periods for minors.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which I signed into law in August 2002, is an important contribution to our efforts to care for human life. This important legislation helps protect the most vulnerable members of our society by ensuring that every infant born alive, including one who survives abortion, is considered a person and receives protection under Federal law. It helps achieve the promises of the Declaration of Independence for all, including those without the voice and power to defend their own rights.

Through ethical policies and the compassion of Americans, we will continue to build a culture that respects life. Faith-based and community organizations and individual citizens play a critical role in strengthening our neighborhoods and bringing care and comfort to those in need. By helping fellow citizens, these groups recognize the dignity of every human being and the possibilities of every life; and their important efforts are helping to build a more just and generous Nation. By working together to protect the weak, the imperfect, and the unwanted, we affirm a culture of hope and help ensure a brighter future for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 19, 2003, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. As we reflect upon the sanctity of human life, I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies in our homes and places of worship, to rededicate ourselves to compassionate service, and to reaffirm our commitment to respecting the life and dignity of every human being.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.

The president's proclamation came after the release of survey results that showed the country's abortion rate declined by 5 percent from 1996 to 2000. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is affiliated with the abortion-rights movement, reported the rate in 2000 was 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, the lowest figure since 1974. The rate's highest point came in 1980 and 1981 at 29.3, according to the institute.

In 2000, there were 1.31 million abortions, contrasted with a high of 1.61 million in 1990, AGI reported. The institute said its data was based on a survey of all known U.S. abortion providers.

Pro-life advocates hope Bush will sign more executive bills in this congregational session, upholding conservative pro-life views in many fields including abortion, cloning, child custody, violence and non discrimination.

The Partial birth Abortion Ban Act, if passed, would prohibit the killing of a nearly totally delivered child, normally in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act would bar cloning for both reproductive and research purposes. Child Custody Protection Act would make it a federal offense for a person to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion when the state in which the girl lives requires either parental notification or consent before such a procedure. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would recognize an unborn baby as a crime victim when injured or slain during a federal offense against his mother. Abortion Non-discrimination Act would clarify that federal law protects the consciences of medical students and doctors who are opposed to providing abortions and healthcare entities that do not want to offer abortion services.

The House of Representatives is expected to approve all the proposals, but approval in the highly demographic Senate remains unclear.

By Pauline C.