Speaking from the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush addressed pro-life protestors at the Washington March for Life rally Tuesday morning, saying, “I’m proud to be standing with you.”
“I see people with a deep conviction that even the most vulnerable member of the human family is a child of God. You're here because you know that all life deserves to be protected. And as you begin your march, I'm proud to be standing with you,” the president said.
President Bush noted that the 2008 March for Life marked the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which mandated legalized abortion nationwide. He said that though Roe v. Wade had decided that an unborn child is not considered a person under the law, biology teaches us that each unborn child is a separate individual with his or her own genetic code. Medical technology, he said, now helps babies live outside their mother’s womb at earlier and earlier ages, and ultrasound technology enables us to see and empathize with the unborn.
“And the fingers and toes and beating hearts that we can see on an unborn child's ultrasound come with something that we cannot see: a soul,” the president declared.
Saying that pro-lifers are heartened by a decline in abortion numbers, Bush said the recent data showing that more than one in five pregnancies end in abortion should be a cause for action. “America is better than this,” he said.
The pro-life goal, in the president’s view, was to build a “culture of life” where women with unplanned pregnancies can find care and young pregnant women can complete their education. America must be a place “where the dignity of both the mother and child is honored and cherished.”
President Bush spoke of pro-life legislative successes that promoted adoption and extended legal protection to infants who survive abortions. Pro-lifers had worked together to ban the “cruel” practice of partial-birth abortion, he said, while stem cell research breakthroughs made it possible to advance science while respecting human life.
The president spoke of a “new America” on the horizon, a nation where life would be respected. “This America is rooted in our belief that in a civilized society, the strong protect the weak. This America is nurtured by people like you, who speak up for the weak and the innocent,” President Bush stated.
Referencing the Declaration of Independence, he reminded the marchers that the United States’ founding document speaks of the right to life as “a gift of the Creator, not a grant of the state.”
The president said that “changing hearts” is what it will take to build a culture of life. He expressed optimism about the receptivity of Americans to the pro-life cause:
“The hearts of the American people are good. Their minds are open to persuasion. And our history shows that a cause rooted in human dignity and appealing to the best instincts of the American people cannot fail. So take heart.”
President Bush ended his speech by asking God to bless the marchers.