The Value of Human Life: The Gipper Was Right

Chuck Colson

The Value of Human Life: The Gipper Was Right

A few weeks ago a friend sent me something he thought I would enjoy reading -- something that had been published nearly 30 years ago by Ronald Reagan. I found it so moving, I wanted to share it with BreakPoint listeners.

In 1983, then-President Reagan sent an unsolicited manuscript to the editors of Human Life Review, who published it in a small book. It was a heart-felt plea to the American people to recognize the sanctity of life of unborn babies -- and to never give up working to protect them in law.

Reagan reminded readers that neither the American people nor our legislators had ever had a chance to decide if they really wanted to legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy: That’s still true today.

Nor is abortion a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Reagan wrote that Roe v. Wade was “not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives.” The Dred Scott decision affirming slavery has that dubious distinction.

He wrote of the great need to clearly frame and present the issue of abortion -- just as abolitionists exposed the terrible truth about slavery.

And what is the real issue? Reagan asked. “The real question today is not when human life begins,” he wrote, “but What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the [torn-apart] arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been [removed] from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.”

And in 1981, Senate hearings on the beginning of human life involved many medical and scientific witnesses who agreed, based on scientific evidence, “that the unborn child is alive, is a distinct individual, [and] is a member of the human species.”

So “the real question,” Reagan wrote, “… is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law -- the same right we have.”

Reagan quoted Lincoln, who wrote that “nothing stamped with the divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on.” He quoted sociologist William Brennan, who warned: “The cultural environment for a human holocaust is present whenever any society can be misled into defining individuals as less than human and therefore devoid of value and respect.” And he quoted Malcolm Muggeridge, who said that “Either life is always and in all circumstance sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some [cases] the other.”

How right these men were.

In order to bring back protection for the unborn, which involves fighting the powerful abortion lobby and activist judges, Reagan said, quoting Mother Teresa, we must become “a soul of prayer,” In fact, we must be like William Wilberforce and his friends, who, Reagan recalled, prayed for decades for the end of British slavery. “Let his faith and perseverance be our guide,” Reagan wrote.

The Gipper would be pleased to know that, thanks to the ceaseless efforts of many Christians, more Americans now call themselves prolife than ever before.

Come to our website,, and we’ll tell you how to get a copy of this wonderful little book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.

This article published on May 19, 2011. Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.