This Monday, January 22, 2007, the Washington Mall, home of our most sacred monuments, will be brimming with people. More than 100,000 from all over America will flood every vacant corner of free space. Why? Because Monday is the 34th annual March for Life, an annual plea to the U.S. Congress to end the tragedy of abortion on demand.
As a young man serving in the Reagan Administration, I always took the day off to participate and hear a message from my boss, President Ronald Reagan. He was a regular participant in the march.
President Reagan felt passionately about the vacuum in modern life caused by the loss of belief in God. Indeed, the two most important issues to him, school prayer and abortion, were closely intertwined. President Reagan thought abortion was a particularly grievous wrong. Indeed, he thought it was so evil that he wrote a book, Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation—the only book he wrote besides his two autobiographies.
William P. Clark, President Reagan’s national security advisor enjoys telling the story about how Ronald Reagan defied his advisors by publishing the book. His beliefs on abortion where shaped by the teachings of his “devoted and devout mother Nelle” and his “fiercely humanitarian father.” He also learned “the value of each person’s life as well as the power of one man’s actions” through his time as a lifeguard in which he saved more than 70 swimmers from drowning. Another event confirming the value of human life to him was the loss of his daughter, Christina, just three short days after her birth.
Abortion was, in President Reagan’s view, an infringement on God’s sacred command to protect innocent human life. Indeed, Reagan felt so passionately about the right to life that he felt without it, other rights had no meaning. He called the restoration of the right to life the most important challenge facing the character of America. President Reagan believed that the continuance of abortion, the taking of some 4,000 lives of children everyday, would only bring about trouble for America. He even posed the ominous question: “Do you really think… God will protect us in a time of crisis even as we turn away from him in our day-to- day life?”
President Reagan did not always take such a strong position against abortion as his rhetoric implies. Indeed, he signed into law a permissive abortion bill early in his California governorship which has resulted in more than one million abortions. He publicly later regretted this decision, and he said it was the biggest mistake he made in government.