|This is, as Mark Steyn insists, a very dangerous time. In my judgment, however, it is also a time of almost unprecedented opportunity. We have options that have not been vouchsafed to the friends of liberty for more than sixty years. For, if the Republicans manage to articulate, on the basis of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the rationale for limited government as that rationale is pertinent to the healthcare bill, they will at the same time have articulated the grounds for doing away with the administrative state, and everyone will recognize the consequences… [Read More]|
The following is an analysis by the Office of the Republican Leader:
Ten Facts Every American Should Know About Democrats’ Final Government Takeover of Health Care
NUMBERS TO KNOW:
· $569.2 billion in tax increases
· $523.5 billion in Medicare cuts
· $48 billion more for Medicaid
1. A Job-Killing Government Takeover of Health Care. No amount of changes or legislative tricks can hide the true destructive nature of this bill: $17 billion in new taxes on Americans who do not comply with the individual mandate, $52 billion in new taxes on employers that do not provide health coverage deemed “acceptable” or “affordable” by government bureaucrats, and new taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest that will further stifle economic growth and job creation.
2. New Tax on Capital Formation and Job Creation. The Medicare tax on capital gains, dividends, and other investment income gets bigger, magnifying the destructive power of this new tax. The bill increases the tax from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent, pushing the top capital gains rate to 23.8 percent and the top rate for dividends to 43.4 percent in conjunction with tax relief expiring at the end of this year. As The Wall Street Journal editorialized this week, this tax will “permanently skew the incentives to work, save and create jobs.”
3. Democrats Continue to Say ‘I Do’ To Marriage Penalty. The bill leaves in place a massive marriage penalty, which will mean higher premiums for those that tie the knot. As highlighted in January by The Wall Street Journal, “the disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance … are pegged to federal poverty guidelines.” The final bill leaves this unfair penalty on married couples in place.
4. Lower Wages and More Unemployment. The final bill imposes $52 billion in new taxes on employers, including small businesses, that cannot afford to provide health coverage or that don’t offer coverage. The effect of this type of tax, similar to a payroll tax increase, would ultimately fall squarely on workers in the form of lower wages or reduced employment. In fact, the Tax Policy Center concluded that “economists generally believe that the burden of payroll taxes is borne by workers in the form of lower wages, regardless of whether the tax is levied on the employer or the employee.” The tax proposed in this bill will likely have the same effect.
5. Employers Targeted By Even Higher Taxes to Enforce Employer Mandate. The final bill incorporated President Obama’s suggestion to rake in a little more cash to pay for a massive government-takeover of health care by nearly tripling the job-killing mandate tax on employers who do not offer health coverage to $2,000 per employee. Sure enough, the President’s suggestion raises an additional $25 billion on the backs of American employers, according to CBO.
6. Individual Mandate Tax Reduced? No, Not Really. Democrats are highlighting their generosity by lowering the amount of the tax for not complying with the mandate. But just how generous are they? Not very. Democrats propose to reduce the individual mandate tax flat payment amount by a scant 14¢ a day. And, while Democrats “reduce” the individual mandate tax flat payment amount, they actually raise $2 billion more by making other alterations to the individual mandate, according to CBO.
7. The Power to Tax Our Health Care. The Democrats’ final bill doesn’t just tax individuals and employers if they don’t comply with the complex mandates in the bill. The bill sends the IRS out to tax the very products Americans use to maintain and restore their own health. New taxes on medical devices, on prescription drugs, and on health insurance itself are all targets of the bill. And, with $10 billion in new enforcement resources, you can bet the IRS will be taking its full share out of the pockets of every American who uses any of these products or services.
8. Even More Subsidies, Even Greater Threat to the Economy. The bill increases the subsidies provided under the bill from those provided in the Senate bill by $65 billion, a significant and unsustainable increase. In fact, the Associated Press reported a warning from Massachusetts’ state treasurer, who stated that Congress will "threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years" if it adopts a health care overhaul modeled after the Bay State's.
9. Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Coverage. The final bill does not include the Stupak amendment language that would prohibit federal funds from being used to fund elective abortions. Instead, states are given the option to opt-out of providing insurance coverage of abortions. Still, taxpayers in a state that opts-out would still see their federal tax dollars fund elective abortions in other states. Additionally, each state through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can provide access to two multi-state plans, and only one of them will exclude abortions. OPM’s current health care program – the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) – does not include any plans that cover elective abortion. For the first time, a federally funded and managed health care plan will cover elective abortions.
10. Medicaid Rolls And Waiting Lines to Swell Even More. CBO estimates that as a result of the Democrats’ bill, one million more Americans will get their coverage from Medcaid, which is plagued with financial woes and wreaks all kinds of budgetary havoc on cash-strapped states. The Democrats’ bill, as the New York Times highlighted, will push even more Americans into a program where they will have trouble finding doctors and have to wait for potentially months to receive care. That’s not meaningful reform by any measure.
BONUS: Republicans have proposed a health care bill based on common-sense reforms that, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, would reduce premiums for families and small businesses by up to 10 percent. It is not too late to start over.
Life & Liberty PAC is a federal political action committee dedicated to forthright pro-life public advocacy, enacting or changing laws to reflect pro-life policies, and supporting pro-life candidates for public office. Right now, through our Pro-Life Campaign, we are trying to reach every pro-life household in America with an important message about President Barack Obama’s proposed Healthcare Plan, which includes:
Obama is a strong supporter of abortion-on-demand, has a record that includes extremist support for taxpayer funding of abortion, and a long history of opposing any ban on abortion procedures – including protections for minor and parental notification laws, infants-born-alive, partial-birth abortions. But, Obama has successfully downplayed the intolerable extremism of his pro-abortion record.
Now he is proposing to nationalize the American health care system, and all the legislation in play includes taxpayer funding for abortion, and provisions that will inevitably lead to rationing of care and eugenics and euthanasia policies being enacted.
We need to reach pro-life voters with this vital information, and we can’t do it without your help. The public must be warned about the pro-abortion radicalism of ObamaCare. The truth about these proposals and indeed, about Obama’s execrable record on the life issue will NOT be widely known unless we stand up and get it done. It is only through the support of people like you that this truth campaign will be made possible. Your gift will help us educate and mobilize pro-life voters across the country, and to recruit and equip the new leaders who must be raised up if we are to restore respect for human life at every stage, from conception to natural death. Gifts to the Pro-Life Campaign are not tax deductible under federal election law, because of our activism. Thank you for your faithfulness and support!
+Charles J. Chaput
Speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Denver Archdiocese to the Cleveland Right To Life dinner, March 9, 2010
People who do pro-life work very quickly learn that there really aren’t any strangers in this movement. It’s held together by a friendship of shared beliefs and sacrifices that doesn’t care about age or social background or distance. So coming here tonight actually feels a lot like home -- and I’m very grateful to Molly Smith, Andrew Trew, the rest of the great Cleveland-area pro-life leadership and the good people from Salem Communications for welcoming me with such outstanding kindness.
I also want to thank Bishop Lennon in a special way for being here. The bishop and I have known each other a long time. He’s a man of wonderful heart and spirit, and it’s a privilege to call him a brother in ministry.
Politics can sometimes work like a virus. The simpler a political slogan is, the faster people absorb it; the faster they transmit it; and the less likely they are to really think about it – which means they don’t develop an immunity to its content.
Here’s an example. A theme we’ve heard from many of our political leaders over the past 18 months goes like this: America needs to return science to its “rightful place” in public life. Well, who can argue with that? Science does an enormous amount of good. Obviously science should have its rightful place alongside every other important human endeavor. But one thing that this theme often means, in practice, is that we need to spend a lot more money on research - especially the controversial kind. And while we’re at it, we should stop asking so many annoying ethical questions, so that science can get on with its vital work.
We could spend the rest of the day debating whether science has lost its place as a national priority. But I want to focus on those words “rightful place.” That’s an interesting phrase. A “rightful” place suggests that there’s also a wrongful place; a bad alternative. And words like right and wrong, good and bad, are loaded with moral judgment. A “good” law embodies what somebody thinks is right. A “bad” public policy embodies what somebody thinks is bad, or at least inadequate.
All law in some sense teaches and forms us, while also regulating our behavior. The same applies to our public policies, including the ones that govern our scientific research. There’s no such thing as morally neutral legislation or morally neutral public policy. Every law is the public expression of what somebody thinks we “ought” to do. The question that matters is this: Which moral convictions of which somebodies are going to shape our country’s political and cultural future – including the way we do our science?
If you and I as citizens don’t do the shaping, then somebody else will. That’s the nature of a democracy. A healthy democracy depends on people of conviction working hard to advance their ideas in the public square – respectfully and peacefully, but vigorously and without apologies. Politics always involves the exercise of power in the pursuit of somebody’s idea of the common good. And politics always and naturally involves the imposition of somebody’s values on the public at large. So if a citizen fails to bring his moral beliefs into our country’s political conversation - if he fails to work for them publicly and energetically - then the only thing he ensures is the defeat of his own beliefs.
We also need to remember that most people – not everyone, of course, but most of us – root our moral convictions in our religious beliefs. What we believe about God shapes what we think about the nature of men and women, good human relationships, and our idea of a just society. This has very practical consequences, including the political kind. We act on what we really believe. If we don’t act on our beliefs, then we don’t really believe them. As a result, the idea that the “separation of Church and state” should force us to wall off our religious beliefs from guiding our political behavior makes no sense at all, even superficially. If we don’t remain true in our public actions to what we claim to believe in our personal lives, then we only deceive ourselves, because God isn’t fooled. He sees who and what we really are. God sees that our duplicity is really a kind of cowardice and that our lack of courage does a lot more damage than simply compromising our own integrity. It also undermines the courage of other good people who really do try to publicly witness what they believe. And that compounds a sin of dishonesty with a sin of injustice.
I’d like to dwell on the issue of science for just another moment, because it will lead us into the rest of our discussion today. I want you to listen to some thoughts from two very different sources. Here is the first source:
“Science, by itself, cannot establish the ends to which it is put. Science can discover vaccines and cures for diseases, but it can also create infectious agents; it can uncover the physics of semiconductors but also the physics of the hydrogen bomb. Science [as] science is indifferent to whether data are gathered under rules that scrupulously protect the interest of human research subjects . . . [or by] bending the rules or ignoring them altogether. A number of the Nazi doctors who injected concentration camp victims with infectious agents or tortured prisoners by freezing or burning them to death were in fact legitimate scientists who gathered real data that could potentially be put to good use.”
The same source goes on to worry that, today, many of the bioethicists who claim to counsel and guide the moral course of American science “have become nothing more than sophisticated (and sophistic) justifiers of whatever it is the scientific community wants . . . In any discussion of cloning, stem-cell research, germ-line engineering and the like, it is usually the professional bioethicist who can be relied on to take the most permissive position of anyone in the room.”
Now listen to these words from my second source:
“What is our contemporary idiocy? What is the enemy within the [human] city? If I had to give it a name, I think I would call it ‘technological secularism.’ The idiot today is the technological secularist who knows everything . . . about the organization of all the instruments and techniques of power that are available in the contemporary world -- and who, at the same time, understands nothing about the nature of man or about the nature of true civilization.”
The words from my first source appeared in 2002. They come from the author and scholar Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama strongly supports the benefits of science and technology. He is not – to my knowledge -- a religious believer. And based on his writings, he seems to have very little use for Christianity. But he’s also not a fool. He sees exactly where our advances in biotechnology could lead us if we don’t find an ethical way of guiding them.
The words from my second source were written nearly 50 years ago, in 1961. They come from John Courtney Murray, the great Jesuit priest and Christian scholar. Murray was a thoughtful man, and he chose his language very carefully. He used the word “idiot” in the original Greek sense of the term, which is quite different from its meaning in modern slang. For the Greeks, the “idiot” was not a mentally deficient man. Rather, he was a man who does not possess a proper public philosophy; or as Murray says, “a man who is not master of the knowledge and skills that underlie the life of a civilized city. The idiot, to the Greek, was just one stage removed from the barbarian. He is the man who is ignorant of the meaning of the word ‘civility.’”
As I said, these two sources are very different. One was a believer. The other is not. Father Murray died more than four decades ago, long before today’s stem-cell debates. But both men would agree that science and technology are not ends in themselves. They’re enormously valuable tools. But they’re tools that can undermine human dignity, and even attack what it means to be “human,” just as easily as they can serve human progress. Everything depends on who uses them, and how. Fools with tools are still fools -- and the more powerful the tools, the more dangerous the fools. Or to put it another way, neither science nor technology requires a conscience to produce results. The evidence for that is the record of the last century.
Now I’ve talked about these things so far for a simple reason. The struggle we face today in defending human dignity is becoming more complex. I’ve believed for many years that abortion is the foundational human rights issue of our lifetime. We can’t simultaneously serve the poor and accept the legal killing of unborn children. We can’t build a just society and at the same time legally sanctify the destruction of generations of unborn human life. The rights of the poor and the rights of the unborn child flow from exactly the same human dignity guaranteed by the God who created us.
Of course, working to end abortion doesn’t absolve us from our obligations to the poor. It doesn’t excuse us from our duties to the disabled, the elderly and immigrants. In fact, it demands from us a much stronger commitment to materially support women who find themselves in a difficult pregnancy.
All of these obligations are vital. God will hold us accountable if we ignore them. But none of these other duties can obscure the fact that no human rights are secure if the right to life is not. And unfortunately, abortion is no longer the only major bioethical threat to that right in our culture. In fact, the right to life has never, at any time in the past, faced the range of challenges it faces right now, and will face in the immediate future. Physician-assisted suicide, cloning, genetic engineering and developments in biotechnology will raise profoundly serious questions about the definition of “human nature” and the protection of human dignity in the years ahead.
This raises a pressing question: What do those of us in pro-life work need to do in preparing for whatever lies ahead? Let me offer a few dos and don’ts that might help guide us, and we can talk about them in greater depth during our discussion time.
Here's the first don't: Don't let divisions take root.
Unity is a sign of God’s Spirit. Division is the sign of someone very different. St. Augustine said that we need to be united in the essentials, free in the debatables, and charitable in all things. It’s good advice. Differing pro-life opinions go with the movement's richness. As a bishop, I've been baffled by the energy wasted on internal pro-life bickering. We can never allow our differences to become personal. Acrimony among us is a gift to the other side. It's also a form of theft from the unborn children who will suffer the consequences of our division.
Here's the second don't. Don't create or accept false oppositions.
Dialectical thinking - and by that I mean the idea that most of our options involve "either/or" choices - is usually untrue and also un-Christian. During the 2008 election, a number of new and so-called pro-life organizations argued we should stop fighting the legal struggle over abortion. Instead we should join with "pro-choice" supporters to seek "common ground."
Their argument was pretty simple: Why fight a losing battle on the legal front? Let's drop the "divisive" political battle. Instead let's all work together to tackle the economic and health issues that might eventually reduce abortions.
The trouble is, Americans didn’t take the gradual, social-improvement road to "reducing" racism. Quite the opposite. We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nor have I ever heard anyone suggest that the best way to deal with murder, robbery, sexual assault or domestic abuse is to improve the availability of health care and job training. We make sexual assault illegal - even though we know it will sometimes still tragically occur - because it’s gravely evil. It’s an act of violence, and the law should proscribe it. Of course, we also have a duty to improve the social conditions that can breed domestic and sexual violence. But that doesn't change the need for the law.
Likewise, if we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence – and of course, it is - then we can't aim at anything less than ending abortion. It doesn't matter that some abortions have always occurred, or that some will always occur. If we really believe that abortion kills a developing, unborn human life, then we can never be satisfied with mere "reductions" in the body count.
The Catholic bishops of our country have argued for more than 30 years that government needs to improve the economic conditions that can lead some women to abortion. But good programs for economic justice don't absolve anyone from the legal struggle to restrict and eventually end abortion. We can do that incrementally, but we need to do it. Protecting the unborn child is not an "either/or" choice. It's "both/and." We need to help women facing problem pregnancies with good health care and economic support; and we need to pass laws that will end legal abortion. We need to do both.
Here's the third don't. Don't hate the adversary.
People who support so-called “abortion rights” are opponents to the cause of life. But they rarely understand the full gravity of what they’re doing, and they’re never our "enemies." Our enemy is the Evil One, not other human beings. Abortion-friendly lawmakers and organizations, and even people who despise us for what we believe, are still our brothers and sisters. We need to trust in the power of love, the true power of God. St. Irenaeus of Lyon warned the early Christians that we've been sent like sheep into the midst of wolves. The moment we become wolves ourselves, we lose.
Now here's the first and most important do. It's very simple: Do become martyrs.
I said it was simple. I didn't say it was easy. “Martyr” is originally a Greek word, and it simply means “witness.” We need to witness our beliefs about human dignity with the example of our daily choices and actions. But public witness can be costly. We need to be ready to pay a price for our convictions. We may never be asked to bleed for what we believe. But we do see character assassination, contempt and calumny against good people every day in our public media. We need to prepare for that. Nothing, not even our good name, should stop us from doing what we know to be right.
Here's the second do. Do keep hope alive.
Cultivating a spirit of joy is not self-deception. It's a way to acknowledge that God really is on the side of human life and dignity, and that human nature, created by God and despite the wound of original sin, is also on our side. Nothing is more inspiring than happy warriors. I've never in my life seen a joy-filled pro-abortion event. And I've always found that instructive.
Here's the third do. Do use the best means for your message, especially the new technologies.
Today's new technologies can be a mixed blessing. But they're also cheap and useful tools that pro-lifers – like Brian Burch at catholicvote.org and many others -- can use very effectively. Many of the traditional, mainline media are losing influence. But blogs, social networks and YouTube channels are thriving. They offer huge pro-life opportunities.
Here's the fourth and final do. Do remember that renewing the culture, not grasping at power, is our real goal. Political and social action is vital. But it’s not an end in itself.
Culture is our "human ecology” - the environment where we breathe not only air, but ideas, beliefs, art, music, social manners and values. Our job is to carry out, according the talents and skills God gave us, what John Paul II called the "evangelization of culture."
Many things in American life today fuel a spirit of greed and self-delusion. Our adversaries often have far more resources than the pro-life movement can ever hope to muster. It doesn’t matter. Culture can be changed in small but powerful ways. But achieving that change demands from each of us a lifelong commitment to education; to studying and really understanding the issues that face us in science, medicine, technology and law; to deepening the character formation of our children and ourselves; and ultimately, to personal action and personal witness in the public square. Nobody will do these things for us. The task of renewing our country belongs to you and me. It starts with each one of us individually, and it spreads outward to other people through our personal acts of courage. If we change the environment around us one heart at a time, while we save one unborn life at a time, the day will come when we won't need to worry about saving babies, because they'll be surrounded by a loving, welcoming culture.
I want to leave you with two final thoughts.
Here’s the first. Nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world.
Don’t ever underestimate the beauty and power of the witness you give in your pro-life work. You may think I came here today to encourage you; and of course that’s true – I did. But I also came here for me, to see your dedication and to draw friendship and strength from you. One thing we learn from Scripture is that God doesn’t have much use for the vain or the prideful, for big shots or celebrities. But He loves the anawim – the ordinary, simple, everyday people who keep God’s Word, who stay faithful to His commandments, and who sustain the life of the world by leavening it with their own goodness. That’s the work you’re really doing here today. Don’t ever forget it. If you speak up for the unborn child in this life, someone will speak up for you in the next, when we meet God face to face.
Here’s my second and final thought. I was in Texas last week, and a friend shared with me the unofficial motto of the Texas Rangers. It goes like this: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fella that’s in the right, and keeps a-comin.” I believe that. I believe it because the message is true. Virtue does matter. Courage and humility, justice and perseverance, do have power. Good does win. And the sanctity of human life will endure. It will endure because people like yourselves will remember that if “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16), then the odds look pretty good, and it’s worth fighting for what’s right.
So let’s pray for each other, and support each other, and thank God for the privilege of being together in His service.
(Editor's note: This essay originally ran in the spring of 1983 in the quarterly journal Human Life Review.)
The 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is a good time for us to pause and reflect. 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.
But the consequences of this judicial decision are now obvious: since 1973, more than 15 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortions. That is over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation's wars.
Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court's result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion "is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."
Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a "right" so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.
As an act of "raw judicial power" (to use Justice White's biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court's decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.
Abortion concerns not just the unborn child, it concerns every one of us. The English poet, John Donne, wrote: ". . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life — the unborn — without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of "Baby Doe" in Bloomington because the child had Down's Syndrome.
Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that "the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children."
Over the first two years of my Administration I have closely followed and assisted efforts in Congress to reverse the tide of abortion — efforts of Congressmen, Senators and citizens responding to an urgent moral crisis. Regrettably, I have also seen the massive efforts of those who, under the banner of "freedom of choice," have so far blocked every effort to reverse nationwide abortion-on-demand.
Despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart. 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. At first, only a minority of Americans recognized and deplored the moral crisis brought about by denying the full humanity of our black brothers and sisters; but that minority persisted in their vision and finally prevailed.
They did it by appealing to the hearts and minds of their countrymen, to the truth of human dignity under God. From their example, we know that respect for the sacred value of human life is too deeply engrained in the hearts of our people to remain forever suppressed. But the great majority of the American people have not yet made their voices heard, and we cannot expect them to — any more than the public voice arose against slavery — until the issue is clearly framed and presented.
What, then, is the real issue? I have often said that when we talk about abortion, we are talking about two lives — the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child. Why else do we call a pregnant woman a mother? I have also said that anyone who doesn't feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.
The case against abortion does not rest here, however, for medical practice confirms at every step the correctness of these moral sensibilities. Modern medicine treats the unborn child as a patient. Medical pioneers have made great breakthroughs in treating the unborn — for genetic problems, vitamin deficiencies, irregular heart rhythms, and other medical conditions. Who can forget George Will's moving account of the little boy who underwent brain surgery six times during the nine weeks before he was born? 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 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.
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.
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.
The 1981 Senate hearings on the beginning of human life brought out the basic issue more clearly than ever before. The many medical and scientific witnesses who testified disagreed on many things, but not on the scientific evidence that the unborn child is alive, is a distinct individual, or is a member of the human species. They did disagree over the value question, whether to give value to a human life at its early and most vulnerable stages of existence.
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. Some have said that only those individuals with "consciousness of self" are human beings. One such writer has followed this deadly logic and concluded that "shocking as it may seem, a newly born infant is not a human being."
A Nobel Prize winning scientist has suggested that if a handicapped child "were not declared fully human until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice." In other words, "quality control" to see if newly born human beings are up to snuff.
Obviously, some influential people want to deny that every human life has intrinsic, sacred worth. They insist that a member of the human race must have certain qualities before they accord him or her status as a "human being."
Events have borne out the editorial in a California medical journal which explained three years before Roe v. Wade that the social acceptance of abortion is a "defiance of the long-held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life regardless of its stage, condition, or status."
Every legislator, every doctor, and every citizen needs to recognize that the real issue is whether to affirm and protect the sanctity of all human life, or to embrace a social ethic where some human lives are valued and others are not. As a nation, we must choose between the sanctity of life ethic and the "quality of life" ethic.
I have no trouble identifying the answer our nation has always given to this basic question, and the answer that I hope and pray it will give in the future. American was founded by men and women who shared a vision of the value of each and every individual. They stated this vision clearly from the very start in the Declaration of Independence, using words that every schoolboy and schoolgirl can recite:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We fought a terrible war to guarantee that one category of mankind — black people in America — could not be denied the inalienable rights with which their Creator endowed them. The great champion of the sanctity of all human life in that day, Abraham Lincoln, gave us his assessment of the Declaration's purpose. Speaking of the framers of that noble document, he said:
"This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all his creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on. . . They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children's children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages."
He warned also of the danger we would face if we closed our eyes to the value of life in any category of human beings:
"I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?"
When Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee the rights of life, liberty, and property to all human beings, he explained that all are "entitled to the protection of American law, because its divine spirit of equality declares that all men are created equal." He said the right guaranteed by the amendment would therefore apply to "any human being." Justice William Brennan, writing in another case decided only the year before Roe v. Wade, referred to our society as one that "strongly affirms the sanctity of life."
Another William Brennan — not the Justice — has reminded us of the terrible consequences that can follow when a nation rejects the sanctity of life ethic: The cultural environment for a human holocaust is present whenever any society can be misled into defining individuals as less than human and therefore devoid of value and respect.
As a nation today, we have not rejected the sanctity of human life. The American people have not had an opportunity to express their view on the sanctity of human life in the unborn. I am convinced that Americans do not want to play God with the value of human life. It is not for us to decide who is worthy to live and who is not. Even the Supreme Court's opinion in Roe v. Wade did not explicitly reject the traditional American idea of intrinsic worth and value in all human life; it simply dodged this issue.
The Congress has before it several measures that would enable our people to reaffirm the sanctity of human life, even the smallest and the youngest and the most defenseless. The Human Life Bill expressly recognizes the unborn as human beings and accordingly protects them as persons under our Constitution. This bill, first introduced by Senator Jesse Helms, provided the vehicle for the Senate hearings in 1981 which contributed so much to our understanding of the real issue of abortion.
The Respect Human Life Act, just introduced in the 98th Congress, states in its first section that the policy of the United States is "to protect innocent life, both before and after birth." This bill, sponsored by Congressman Henry Hyde and Senator Roger Jepsen, prohibits the federal government from performing abortions or assisting those who do so, except to save the life of the mother. It also addresses the pressing issue of infanticide which, as we have seen, flows inevitably from permissive abortion as another step in the denial of the inviolability of innocent human life.
I have endorsed each of these measures, as well as the more difficult route of constitutional amendment, and I will give these initiatives my full support. Each of them, in different ways, attempts to reverse the tragic policy of abortion-on-demand imposed by the Supreme Court ten years ago. Each of them is a decisive way to affirm the sanctity of human life.
We must all educate ourselves to the reality of the horrors taking place. Doctors today know that unborn children can feel a touch within the womb and that they respond to pain. But how many Americans are aware that abortion techniques are allowed today, in all 50 states, that burn the skin of a baby with a salt solution, in an agonizing death that can last for hours?
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?
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.
Our society has, fortunately, become sensitive to the rights and special needs of the handicapped, but I am shocked that physical or mental handicaps of newborns are still used to justify their extinction. This Administration has a Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, who has done perhaps more than any other American for handicapped children, by pioneering surgical techniques to help them, by speaking out on the value of their lives, and by working with them in the context of loving families. You will not find his former patients advocating the so-called "quality-of-life" ethic.
I know that when the true issue of infanticide is placed before the American people, with all the facts openly aired, we will have no trouble deciding that a mentally or physically handicapped baby has the same intrinsic worth and right to life as the rest of us. As the New Jersey Supreme Court said two decades ago, in a decision upholding the sanctity of human life, "a child need not be perfect to have a worthwhile life."
Whether we are talking about pain suffered by unborn children, or about late-term abortions, or about infanticide, we inevitably focus on the humanity of the unborn child. Each of these issues is a potential rallying point for the sanctity of life ethic. Once we as a nation rally around any one of these issues to affirm the sanctity of life, we will see the importance of affirming this principle across the board.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the English writer, goes right to the heart of the matter: "Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other." The sanctity of innocent human life is a principle that Congress should proclaim at every opportunity.
It is possible that the Supreme Court itself may overturn its abortion rulings. We need only recall that in Brown v. Board of Education the court reversed its own earlier "separate-but-equal" decision. I believe if the Supreme Court took another look at Roe v. Wade, and considered the real issue between the sanctity of life ethic and the quality of life ethic, it would change its mind once again.
As we continue to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer to unwanted pregnancy. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps, often at great personal sacrifice, to provide for unwed mothers. I recently spoke about a young pregnant woman named Victoria, who said, "In this society we save whales, we save timber wolves and bald eagles and Coke bottles. Yet, everyone wanted me to throw away my baby."
She has been helped by Save-a-Life, a group in Dallas, which provides a way for unwed mothers to preserve the human life within them when they might otherwise be tempted to resort to abortion. I think also of House of His Creation in Catesville, Pennsylvania, where a loving couple has taken in almost 200 young women in the past ten years. They have seen, as a fact of life, that the girls are not better off having abortions than saving their babies. I am also reminded of the remarkable Rossow family of Ellington, Connecticut, who have opened their hearts and their home to nine handicapped adopted and foster children.
The Adolescent Family Life Program, adopted by Congress at the request of Senator Jeremiah Denton, has opened new opportunities for unwed mothers to give their children life. We should not rest until our entire society echoes the tone of John Powell in the dedication of his book, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, a dedication to every woman carrying an unwanted child: "Please believe that you are not alone. There are many of us that truly love you, who want to stand at your side, and help in any way we can." And we can echo the always-practical woman of faith, Mother Teresa, when she says, "If you don't want the little child, that unborn child, give him to me." We have so many families in America seeking to adopt children that the slogan "every child a wanted child" is now the emptiest of all reasons to tolerate abortion.
I have often said we need to join in prayer to bring protection to the unborn. Prayer and action are needed to uphold the sanctity of human life. I believe it will not be possible to accomplish our work, the work of saving lives, "without being a soul of prayer." The famous British Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, prayed with his small group of influential friends, the "Clapham Sect," for decades to see an end to slavery in the British empire. Wilberforce led that struggle in Parliament, unflaggingly, because he believed in the sanctity of human life. He saw the fulfillment of his impossible dream when Parliament outlawed slavery just before his death.
Let his faith and perseverance be our guide. We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others, a value of which Malcolm Muggeridge says:. . . however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened."
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.
(This article is reprinted courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.)