Today, January 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. While Roe is more commonly remembered, these two judicial decrees legalized surgical and chemical abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. And though states have since been allowed to enact limited restrictions, government-sanctioned abortion remains the law of the land for virtually any reason – or no reason at all.
The day before this grim anniversary, the nation watched another milestone: the second inauguration of America’s first African-American president. In yesterday’s inaugural speech delivered to millions lining the National Mall and watching on television, President Barack Obama declared that:
What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“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.”
While I disagree with our president on many matters of policy, he spoke the truth yesterday. Our country was founded upon the idea that each member of the human race is “created equal,” that they each are “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, not given by any government or court, but rather so fundamental as to be called “unalienable.” Wisely, our founders recognized the very first among these as being the right to “life,” for without life, how can any of us have liberty or pursue happiness?
Tragically, over the past four decades, more than 55 million unborn Americans have been legally denied this most basic right. They were denied it not by their Creator, but by seven judges in a courtroom in Washington, D.C.
This reality seems to stand in stark contrast to our president’s stated vision for America. Later in his inauguration speech, President Obama confidently asserted that:
… a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune… And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
President Obama stated that failing to advance these principles of “human dignity and justice” actually represents a threat to “peace in our time.” And I agree! Yet this same president who speaks so eloquently about “tolerance and opportunity” currently leads a government which funds Planned Parenthood (the nation’s largest abortion provider) with over 542 million of our tax dollars each year – more than 45% of the abortion giant’s annual budget. How can our president say in this same speech that “the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still”?
Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that President Obama doesn’t care about human life. Anyone who has seen him interact with his daughters or heard him speak about the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut can see that he cares about children. As he spoke yesterday about the unfinished work of the American dream, he charged that:
Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm. That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.
This is indeed our generation’s task. We must work to ensure that our nation’s children are loved and protected. But Mr. President: shouldn’t “all our children” include those waiting to be born? Are they not equally deserving of “these words, these rights, these values”?
President Obama may see no contradiction between the words in his speech and his vigorous support of legalized abortion. But I believe that our nation cannot deny human equality or unalienable rights to one group of people without endangering them for all people. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Ironically, President Obama’s speech was delivered at the opposite end of the National Mall from where Dr. King spoke almost 40 years ago. And his inauguration took place on the third Monday of January, the same day our nation observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I pray that one day our president realizes the truth of Dr. King’s words.
Despite so obviously excluding the unborn in yesterday’s speech, President Obama ended his remarks with a final call to action with which we can all agree:
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
I couldn’t agree more. You and I have the power, and the obligation, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Now is the time to lift our voice “in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.” Now is the time to remind our nation that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Now is the time to stand up and “rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11).
As we mourn 40 years of legalized abortion, I hope you’ll join us in the cause of life. We cannot – we must not – allow justice to be denied for another 40 years.