By the President of the United States of America
On January 21, the United States will observe a Federal holiday honoring the birth of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his efforts to end legal segregation in America, Dr. King believed that achieving peace and goodwill among all peoples depends on obedience to the will of God and the affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. "Every man is somebody," Dr. King said, "because he is a child of God."
It is this conviction -- the recognition that all people are made in the image of their Creator -- which guides our observance of National Sanctity of Human Life Day and our efforts to reaffirm in our Nation the sanctity of human life in all its stages.
For more than two hundred years, America has been the home of freedom. Our national commitment to fundamental human rights -- the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" -- was eloquently proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and has been reaffirmed countless times in legislative halls; in a free and unfettered press; on battlefields around the world; and, most important, in our hearts.
Despite this deep national commitment, however, there have been times when realities have not lived up to our ideals. The United States was once a land of slavery and racial segregation. For far too long, many persons with disabilities have not been able to participate fully in the mainstream of American life. And the prevalence of abortion on demand in America calls into question our respect for the fundamental right to life.
The tragedy of abortion in America affects two persons, mother and child. While sincere persons may disagree, my position is that the lives of both must be cherished and protected. We must recognize the dignity and worth of every human being in our laws, as well as in our hearts. Abortion robs America of a portion of its future and denies preborn children the chance to grow, to contribute, and to enjoy a full life with all its challenges and opportunities.
Scientific advances reinforce the belief that unborn children are persons, entitled to medical care and legal protection. We must turn from abortion to loving alternatives such as adoption. All levels of government and all sectors of society should promote policies that encourage alternatives such as adoption and make adopting easier for families who want children and will give them loving homes, particularly children with special needs.
Across America, many people are involved in efforts to protect unborn children and to assist pregnant women in need. Through their compassion, generosity, and hard work, they are helping to ensure that the value of every human life is never forgotten. We hope and pray for the day when the principle of life's sanctity will guide both private thought and public policy on this question throughout our Nation.
On this occasion we also recall with gratitude and thanks to Almighty God the millions of Americans whose work in many and various ways likewise upholds our fundamental belief in the sanctity of human life. Members of the health professions and scientists work for cures to dread diseases and to alleviate the suffering of the ill and infirm. Parents, teachers, and community leaders work together towards ending the scourge of drugs. And volunteers throughout our Nation visit the sick, the elderly, and the lonely; care for the dying; help children in need; and bring joy to the lives of our fellow citizens.
In affirming the sanctity of life, we realize the highest ideals of our country. We deny our very heritage when we do not. Today, mindful of our heritage and our convictions, let us not only resolve to uphold the sanctity of human life but also work to promote policies that affirm our highest ideals as a Nation. All stages of human life are precious; all demand recognition of their sanctity.
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 20, 1991, 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 the dignity of every human being.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, 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 fifteenth.