Good morning, and welcome to the nation's capital. It's good to see you. In our system of representative government, you have not only the right, but the duty, to make yourselves heard. And America needs to hear your strong and compelling voice on behalf of the voiceless.
Let me also add how inspiring it is to see so many young faces, willing to brave the elements, in this crowd today. It assures me that the future of this movement is strong.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of two notable events--Roe vs. Wade, and four decades of Margie Montgomery's fight for the unborn. Thank you, Margie, for your leadership of this movement.
Our country may still be divided on the issue of life, but I believe we are gaining ground.
Recent data shows that both the number and rate of abortions has dropped to an all-time low since 1973. That is good news.
And much of the credit must go to you, the movement that has advocated relentlessly for a culture that respects the sanctity of life. However, the tragic news is that in 2009, the most recent year for which the federal Centers for Disease Control have released data, over 780,000 abortions took place in the United States.
We cannot stop now. Washington being what it is, this fight will continue.
President Obama won re-election on a campaign of supporting groups like Planned Parenthood. In his second term, he will continue to nominate judges to federal office, and send them to the Senate for consideration.
While I don't want to prejudge his selections, I hope he will resist the calls from some in his party to pack the bench with activist judges, and that he does not nominate judges based on their ability to "empathize" with or favor certain political constituencies.
In the Senate, we've lost several good members who were reliable on life issues. And while we still have a strong contingent of pro-life Senators, we are well short of a majority.
So it's clear that elections matter. This election certainly didn't go the way I wanted it to. At the same time, wherever we can work with the president and the other side of the aisle in Congress to advance our cause forward, I'm eager to do so.
And I will continue to stand firm on the protection of innocent life. I'm pleased to announce that one of the first bills in the new Congress I have pledged to sponsor and fight for is the Child Custody Protection Act.
This bill protects the rights of parents against those who would knowingly transport a minor across state lines for an abortion with the intent of circumventing a parental consent or parental notification law that is in effect for the minor's state of residence.
Hopefully this bill will be just the first of several we can advance in the 113th Congress.
Of course, how much success we have here in Washington depends in large part on you, the Kentucky Right to Life Association, and your steadfast commitment to protecting the unborn and promoting a culture of life.
Your continuing efforts help fuel me and others in Washington who are working to guard the rights of the unborn. Please never forget that your tireless advocacy is making a difference here in the nation's capital. Together, we can continue to change laws and change hearts.
Thank you for your dedication to this important cause. Thank you for making the moral case to preserve and protect life to your friends, family, and neighbors.
You've got many friends in Washington--not only me, but my fellow Kentucky legislators who I've partnered with on life issues. Where we can work in a bipartisan manner to move forward, we will. Where we can't we'll hold our ground.
Either way, we won't stop advocating for a culture of life. And neither should you. The 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is a time to affirm the principle that all human life has inherent dignity and is thus deserving of the protection of the law.
A just society is measured by the manner in which it treats the most defenseless of its citizens, at every stage of life. I applaud you for your witness to this timeless truth. And I share your commitment to the cause of life.
Thank you. Enjoy your visit in Washington.