NRL News

Ronald Reagan: Abortion a “tragedy of Stunning Proportions”

by | Jan 20, 2015


By Dave Andrusko

Ronald_Reagan099On Monday Andrew Bair wrote an outstanding post headlined “Reflections on ‘Sanctity of Human Life Day’ in light of the challenges of 2015.” It combined a thoughtful look back at January 13, 1984, when pro-life President Ronald Reagan “designated Sunday, January 22nd as Sanctity of Human Life Day” with a reminder that Kansas had introduced the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. This first-of-its-kind legislation would protect unborn children from the brutality of dismemberment abortion.

We posted a link to “Proclamation 5147” and I realized I had not read President Reagan’s remarks on National Sanctity of Human Life Day for many years. They are brief, but extremely powerful. After you have a chance to read them, I will offer some additional thoughts.


National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 1984
January 13, 1984
By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The values and freedoms we cherish as Americans rest on our fundamental commitment to the sanctity of human life. The first of the “unalienable rights” affirmed by our Declaration of Independence is the right to life itself, a right the Declaration states has been endowed by our Creator on all human beings — whether young or old, weak or strong, healthy or handicapped.

Since 1973, however, more than 15 million unborn children [now more than 57 million] have died in legalized abortions — a tragedy of stunning dimensions that stands in sad contrast to our belief that each life is sacred. These children, over tenfold the number of Americans lost in all our Nation’s wars, will never laugh, never sing, never experience the joy of human love; nor will they strive to heal the sick, or feed the poor, or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights, and we are infinitely poorer for their loss.

We are poorer not simply for lives not led and for contributions not made, but also for the erosion of our sense of the worth and dignity of every individual. To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all. Slavery, which treated Blacks as something less than human, to be bought and sold if convenient, cheapened human life and mocked our dedication to the freedom and equality of all men and women. Can we say that abortion — which treats the unborn as something less than human, to be destroyed if convenient — will be less corrosive to the values we hold dear?

We have been given the precious gift of human life, made more precious still by our births in or pilgrimages to a land of freedom. It is fitting, then, on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that struck down State anti-abortion laws, that we reflect anew on these blessings, and on our corresponding responsibility to guard with care the lives and freedoms of even the weakest of our fellow human beings.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 22, 1984, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on that day in homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life, and to reaffirm our commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of each human life.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 13th day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth.

Ronald Reagan


I will not belabor the obvious. Our current President is lavishly praised for being an articulate spokesman. Compare what you will hear in President Obama’s State of the Union Address tonight (or pretty much anything else) to President Reagan’s remarks and you will quickly grasp what real eloquence is.

Ponder this at length, for it simply too often is overlooked. Abortion is “a tragedy of stunning dimensions that stands in sad contrast to our belief that each life is sacred.” More than 15 million lives were lost by 1984, more than 57 million lives lost by 2014. “Stunning” is not too strong and what President Reagan did was to recall the startling contrast between our professed belief that EVERY life is sacred and the assembly-line slaughter of over one million unborn babies every year.

It cannot be said enough that the lives of unborn children are the first casualties. But ripping their tiny torsos apart does not happen in isolation. A mother—and a father—have abandoned their commitment to safeguarding their children. And, as we talk about constantly, the deadly impact extends to the web of relationships these children, and their parents, have.

In the abstract, my guess is many to most people would agree with President Reagan that “To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all.” It’s only when you remind them that “one category of human life” includes defenseless unborn children that they start to hem and haw and look for excuses.

And then there is keen observation. Blessed with liberty as we are, we also have a “corresponding responsibility to guard with care the lives and freedoms of even the weakest of our fellow human beings.”

And while all of us should be guardians, it is the pro-life movement that is the first line of defense for unborn children, children born with disabilities, and the medically vulnerable.

I would conclude with a reminder that so long as one child is thrown into the maw of the abortion machinery, it is one baby too many. But remember that not so long ago there were a million and a half abortions each year and our benighted opposition was celebrating the impending collapse of our Movement.

Now who is on the defensive? Who is writing editorials (such as the New York Times—the mouthpiece of the Abortion Establishment– just did) with the headline “A Perilous Year for Abortion Rights”?

Who is seeing its opposition (that would be us) continue to out-organize them and convert the younger generations to the cause of life?

You get the point. There is great reason for optimism.

Please read President Reagan’s remarks again. You can find them not just above but here.

Categories: Pro-Lifers