House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today delivered opening remarks at the 39th March for Life. Following are Speaker Boehner's remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Thank you, Nellie, and let me thank all of you for braving the elements. I'm truly honored to be here.
"I come before you as Speaker of the whole House of Representatives and leader of the bipartisan pro-life majority in Congress. With your help, this bipartisan majority is standing up for life and working to restore the damage of Roe v. Wade. We are heeding the voice of the people, who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. The House has passed bipartisan legislation to codify the Hyde Amendment across all federal programs. And we'll continue to press the Senate for a vote.
"It's an honor to serve with men and women committed to protecting the sanctity of life. We may disagree in other areas, sometimes starkly, but we are one and the same on this. Because human life is not a political or economic commodity. And defending life is not a matter of party it's about standing on principle.
"In that spirit, I think it's important we take a moment to reflect on the first principles that bring us all here today.
"We're blessed to gather on this National Mall, hallowed ground kept hallowed by footsteps and echoes. Here, half a century ago, John F. Kennedy let the world know Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship' to keep freedom alive and well.
"Like many of you, my family of Kennedy Democrats was moved by those words. I'm from what you might call a big family I've got 11 brothers and sisters. It wasn't easy for my mother to have 12 children. But I'm sure glad she did.
"Respect for life, at every stage, was instilled in us early on. My heart still grows restless at the story in Scripture that says "whatever you do to the least of my people you do unto me.' No life is an island we're all taught that. We're taught to extend a helping hand, especially to those in need.
"So I've never considered "pro-life' to be a label or a position. It's just who I am. It's who I am, and it's who we are as a people. If you're like me, when you climb the steps on the other side of the Tidal Basin, you're awed by Jefferson's immortal words: "God who gave us life gave us liberty.'
"These two founding principles, life and liberty, are intertwined. Together, they form the core of our national character. They comprise the standard by which the world looks to us. When we affirm the dignity of life, we affirm our commitment to freedom. When we don't affirm life when life is cheapened or weakened, here or abroad, freedom itself is diminished.
"Here on this Mall, many solemn vows have been made in the long fight for freedom. America is an idea, and our duty is to preserve its blessings, the first and dearest of which is life.
"That is why Nellie Gray marches on. Let us rise to Nellie's example and raise our voices together in defense of life. Let us pray that more of our countrymen, whether you belong to one party or no party, will join this noble cause.
"God go with all of you, and God bless the United States of America."