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Public Statements

Anniversary Of Roe V. Wade

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, today is the 37th anniversary of a double tragedy for our Nation. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States twisted the Constitution to create a right to kill babies before they are born. Since then, nearly 50 million babies have lost their lives. That is more than 40 times the number of Americans who died in all of our Nation's wars. Those babies were living human beings, and they were killed by abortion.

Less than 25 years earlier, inspired by the experience of World War II, the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States voted for it, and it is said to be the most widely translated document in the world. Its very first words declare that ``recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'' Article 3 of the Declaration states that ``everyone has the right to life.''

I belong to the human family because I am a living human being. So does
every Member of the Senate, every citizen of this country, every human being on this planet. Each of us was no less a living human being, no less a member of the human family, before we were born than we are now.

The facts did not change, but Roe v. Wade represented a radically different set of values. In January 1983, President Ronald Reagan said that the 10th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was a good time to pause and reflect. He said that the real issue with abortion ``is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life?'' That is still the real issue today. Do human beings still have, in the words of the U.N. Declaration, inherent dignity and inalienable rights? Or do we have, as President Reagan described, ``a social ethic where some human lives are valued and others are not''? I will ask to have printed President Reagan's profound essay titled ``Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation'' in the Record following my statement.

We have not done enough to address the reasons that many women feel they have no alternative but abortion. I applaud the thousands of selfless women and men who volunteer and give and work to help women choose life. I understand that today there are more pro-life centers than abortion clinics in America. But abortion is right or wrong not because of why it is done, but because of what it is. Abortion is the killing of living human beings.

A few years ago, Congress considered bills to ban the killing of horses and to promote humane treatment of farm animals. A House member who supported these bills and co-chaired the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus said: ``The way a society treats its animals speaks to the core values and priorities of its citizens.''

I believe that the way a society treats babies also speaks to the core values and priorities of its citizens. As President Reagan said, we ``cannot diminish the value of one category of human life--the unborn--without diminishing the value of all human life.''

The result of the Roe v. Wade decision is the first tragedy we should mourn today. The second tragedy is the means the Supreme Court used to achieve that result. The real Constitution, the one that the people established, the one that is the supreme law of the land, the one that protects liberty by limiting government, does not contain a right to abortion. To achieve the result they wanted, the Justices effectively created a different Constitution, and in so doing asserted control over the charter that is supposed to control them. The Justices became masters over the Constitution they had sworn an oath to support and defend.

So the result of Roe v. Wade diminished the value of human life. The means of Roe v. Wade diminished the value of liberty. The Supreme Court attempted to impose upon the people a set of values that they still reject. Most Americans still oppose most abortions, and last year more Americans called themselves ``pro-life'' than the alternative label for the time in the 15 years Gallup has asked that question. As President Reagan said in 1983, ``despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart.''

Today, we are challenged to reach out and to give of ourselves to help others. I championed the legislation to help make service a national priority. In July 2008, before he was elected President, Senator Obama said that when you serve, ``you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves but for all Americans. That's why we call it the American dream.'' It might even be called the human dream.

Is that still our dream today? What are our core values and priorities? Do we still embrace those universal human values of inherent dignity and inalienable rights for all members of the human family? Today, Roe v. Wade still gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect. That tragic decision, in President Reagan's words, ``has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.''

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record President Reagan's essay titled ``Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation'' to which I referred.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record


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