Paul  Kengor

Given the somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade—source of 40 million abortions since 1973—I thought I’d share an excellent but forgotten speech by President Ronald Reagan. The speechwriter was Peter Robinson, featured guest of our Reagan Lecture last year.

Reagan’s remarks, made in July 1987 to pro-life leaders, are moving to read and watch (or listen to). They are prescient in light of the widening abortion abyss we face under the Obama administration and Pelosi-Reid Congress.

Reagan began with a reminder I often share with my secular-liberal friends. He told the pro-life activists: “[M]any of you, perhaps most, never dreamed of getting involved in politics. What brought you into politics was a matter of conscience, a matter of fundamental conviction.”

That point cannot be underscored enough. Few things rile me more than demands that pro-lifers—especially those motivated by their faith—keep out of politics. Quite the contrary, many did just that, quietly going to church and reading their Bibles, until one day they awoke to learn the Supreme Court had passed Roe v. Wade … and the hellacious assault was on. They entered pro-life activism reluctantly, as a reaction to what was thrust upon their culture and country. The last thing they wanted was to get involved in politics. The Death Culture came to them.

Reagan next added: “Many of you’ve been attacked for being single-issue activists or single-issue voters. But I ask: What single issue could be of greater significance?”

Agreed. For me, the life issue is my starting point, of far greater value than where a politician stands on social security or the minimum wage. Obviously, other issues matter. The right to life, however, is the first and most fundamental of rights, without which other rights are impossible. And if you, personally, are unsure when life begins, consider Reagan’s recommendation: “If there’s even a question about when human life begins, isn’t it our duty to err on the side of life?”

Reagan saw the onslaught against America’s unborn as so ferocious that he favored a “human life amendment” to the Constitution. At the time, this seemed extreme, but we’ve learned that unless amendments are attached to bill after bill—the Hyde Amendment, the Stupak Amendment—anonymous powers ensure all sorts of “unintended” consequences, including taxpayer funding of abortion.