WASHINGTON -- Pro-life leaders expressed hope regarding the state of their cause upon the 38th anniversary of abortion's legalization in the United States.
Meanwhile, President Obama acknowledged the Jan. 22 observance by reaffirming his support for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision but again failing to call for a reduction in the number of abortions.
Tens of thousands of pro-lifers rallied and marched Jan. 24 at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., after a weekend filled with pro-life events in the capital and around the country. Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land spoke at one of those on Roe's anniversary -- the Louisiana Life March in Baton Rouge.
The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission decried Roe's effect but said there is "good news." The Roe ruling struck down all state bans on abortion and, coupled with the Doe v. Bolton opinion issued the same day, effectively legalized abortion throughout pregnancy for virtually any reason.
"It is both a disgrace and a tragedy that we have killed somewhere between 50 and 55 million unborn Americans over the last 38 years," Land told Baptist Press Jan. 24. "We have killed more of our unborn citizens every year than all the deaths of all of our military in all of the wars we have ever fought from colonial times through the latest deaths in Afghanistan.
"The good news is that America is awakening like the prodigal son from her moral slumber and the pro-life movement is gaining new strength every day," Land said. He pointed to polls that show "pro-life is the new majority, the new normal."
"When one attends pro-life rallies, you cannot help but be struck by the youthfulness of the crowds," Land said. "That majority will grow and with it ever more protection for our unborn citizens until Roe v. Wade is justly put on the ash heap of history along with Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson."
The Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that Dred Scott, an African-American slave, was not a U.S. citizen and had no rights. In the 1896 Plessy opinion, the high court upheld racial segregation.
"Young pro-lifers proclaim at every rally both with their voices and with their hand-drawn signs, 'We survived Roe, Roe won't survive us.' The most pro-life segments of the country are those born since 1973, and they will restore America's moral compass sooner rather than later," Land said.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said of Roe's 38th anniversary, "[W]e hold heavy in our hearts the 52 million lives lost and the countless mothers hurt by the horror of abortion.
"But with this great sadness comes great optimism," she said in a written statement. "Americans have shown in poll after poll, and especially in the last election, that they find 'pro-choice' rhetoric empty of meaning and find abortion-friendly policies a violation of their consciences. The new pro-life House leadership has shown it is dedicated to translating this public opinion into real public policy that saves lives and ends taxpayer funding of abortion."
Speaker of the House John Boehner has demonstrated in his first month in the position his support for legislation to ban federal money for abortion. He said in a Jan. 22 written statement the Roe opinion "tore asunder a right to life our Founding Fathers described so indelibly in our Declaration of Independence. The decision denigrated the respect we must have for life at all stages, especially the innocent unborn."
The Ohio Republican said, "The new House majority has listened to the people and pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion. A ban is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land.... This is critical, common-sense legislation that deserves the support of the people's representatives and the president."
As expected, Obama showed no evidence in his Jan. 22 written statement of joining an effort to prohibit -- or reduce -- federal funding of abortion.
He described Roe as the high court's ruling "that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters." Obama said he is "committed to protecting this constitutional right."
The president also affirmed his commitment to "policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption."
For the second year in a row, Obama did not say in his brief statement that Americans are united in "our determination" to "reduce the need for abortion" -- a comment he made in 2009 on the Roe anniversary.
The president's statement followed by only three days the news that Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia, Pa., abortion doctor, had been charged with murdering a woman and seven babies after their deliveries in a filthy clinic where he allegedly had harmed scores of women and killed thousands of late-term, unborn children over more than three decades. It also was released barely two weeks after it was reported that four in 10 pregnancies in New York City still end in abortion.
Obama's Jan. 22 statement shows how radically pro-abortion he is, said R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The president's statement included nothing "that indicated any recognition that abortion is in any case or in any sense a tragedy," Mohler wrote in a Jan. 24 blog post.
"How can any President of the United States fail to address this unspeakable tragedy? There was no hope expressed that abortion would be rare. ... The only words that even insinuate any hypothetical reduction in abortion were addressed to reducing 'unintended pregnancies' and promoting adoption," Mohler wrote. "But no goal of reducing abortion was stated or even obliquely suggested. No reference at all was made of the unborn child. There was no lament -- not even a throwaway line that would cost him nothing in terms of his support from abortion rights forces."