Public Papers - 1991
Proclamation 6397 -- National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 1992
By the President of the United States
Throughout our Nation's history, Americans have treasured these timeless words from our Declaration of Independence: ``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.'' These stirring words summarize the fundamental moral vision of the United States, a vision that affirms the inestimable dignity and worth of every human being, each of whom is made in the image of God. They were not words uttered lightly. Signers of the Declaration pledged to uphold them with their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. On this occasion, we reflect on the first and most fundamental right enumerated by our Nation's founders: the right to life.
Thomas Jefferson noted that ``the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time,'' and much of his writing reflects his belief that ``the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.'' Thus, respect for the sanctity of human life is deeply rooted in the American tradition. Today we Americans are rightfully proud of our physicians and scientists, who have helped lead the way in the fight against disability and disease; proud of the thousands of American service members and volunteers who have responded to calls for help around the world; and grateful to the many fire fighters and law enforcement officers who work to protect the public safety. These are just a few of the millions of Americans who demonstrate, through their daily labors, our Nation's traditional reverence for human life.
While the United States boasts a long and honorable tradition of respect for human life and the rights of individuals, one key issued related to the sanctity of life is a divisive one in America today: the issue of abortion.
Fewer than 20 years after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, the prevalence of abortion on demand in the United States stands in stark contrast to our Nation's most deeply held values and beliefs. While sincere persons may disagree, my position is that the lives of both mother and child must be cherished and protected.
Advances in science and technology continue to provide evidence that the child developing in the mother's womb is a distinct, living individual who bears all the basic attributes of human personality. How terribly ironic that an unborn child in one medical facility may be carefully treated as a patient while at another facility -- perhaps just a few blocks away -- another unborn child will become the innocent victim of abortion.
Women and men who operate crisis pregnancy centers across the country recognize the fear and desperation that compel some women to consider abortion. Yet they also know that, in a Nation as prosperous as ours, where people are known for their open hearts and their unfailing generosity, this tragic choice is unnecessary.
On this occasion, we acknowledge the selflessness and compassion of all those volunteers who offer emotional, physical, and financial support to women facing crisis pregnancies. We also salute those courageous women who choose life for their unborn children and thank the dedicated counselors, social workers, and other professionals who, where needed, offer assistance in adoption. As a Nation, we must continue to dismantle legal, financial, and attitudinal barriers to adoption, to make adopting easier for families who want children and who will give them loving homes -- particularly children with special needs.
On this ninth National Sanctity of Human Life Day, let us renew our determination to ensure that all, born and unborn, receive the protection and care they deserve. Together, let us choose life, so that America might always be known as a good and giving Nation, a Nation where the stranger is welcomed and the needy are served with dignity and kindness. That is the sure and noble path chosen at our Nation's founding and the path to which we must always return.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 19, 1992, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call on all Americans to reflect on the sanctity of human life in all its stages and to gather in homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life and to reaffirm our commitment to respect the life and dignity of every human being.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:02 a.m., December 23, 1991]
Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on December 24.